An Argentine judge has rule in favor of
allowing a gay couple to marry, opening the door to gay marriage for
the first time in Latin America, the AFP reported.
Judge Gabriela Seijas ordered
government officials to allow two men, Alejandro Freyre, 39, and Jose
Maria Di Bello, 41, to marry. Seijas issued her order on Wednesday
but it was not publicized till Thursday.
The couple, who filed a complaint in
April, said they were overjoyed and a bit surprised.
“We are very happy, moved, but we
also feel the heavy weight of responsibility because it's not just
about us, it's encouraging legal equality in Argentina and the rest
of Latin America,” Di Bello told the news service.
The ruling only impacts the progressive
city of Buenos Aires, where gay couples are allowed to enter civil
City officials appeared to support the
decision. Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri told reporters that the
city would not pursue an appeal, saying: “We have to live together
and accept reality … The world is heading in this direction.”
The ruling could improve the odds for a
gay marriage bill currently being debated in the Argentine Congress.
If approved, Argentina would become the first Latin American country
to legalize gay marriage and only the second country in the Americas,
A similar measure introduced in 2007
fueled a backlash from the Roman Catholic Church, which opposes the
measure. The church wields huge influence in the country of 40
million. Until 1994, the nation's president and vice president were
required by law to be members of the Catholic Church and married.
“Claiming heterosexuality as a
prerequisite for marriage is not discrimination,” Archbishop Jose
Maria Arancedo of Santa Fe told the paper La Nation.
In 2002, Buenos Aires, the nation's
capital and largest city, legalized civil unions for gay and lesbian
couples, a first in Latin America. Four other Argentine cities
followed. Uruguay is the only Latin American country to recognize