On Tuesday the Uruguayan Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill 23-8, almost ensuring the country will be the second in South America—and the 12th worldwide—to allow gay and lesbian couples the same legal standing as heterosexual pairs.
The proposed Marriage Equality Law now returns to the lower house, where it was already approved in December, to be voted on again with changes.
“This is an issue of liberty, of people’s choice and justice,” said Sen. Rafael Michelini. “Liberty because the state should not meddle in who you should marry; of justice because if you marry abroad with someone of the same sex and later return to Uruguay, your marriage should be recognized.”
The law—which will shore up rules for adoption and in-vitro fertilization—is also a boon to straight couples: It alters Uruguay’s divorce laws to allow men to end a marriage without specific grounds. (In 1912, the country passed legislation that allowed only women to file for a no-fault divorce, as a means of equalizing the balance of power.)
Oddly enough, one of the sticking points was deciding whose last name would go first—Latin countries almost always require parents to give their children two last names, with the father’s traditionally coming first.
Parents will now be able to decide whose name comes first.
Predictably, the country’s Catholic Church is against marriage equality, but has only mounted a limp offense against it. “It seems logical that two people of the same sex who care for each other and want to share their lives can have some kind of civil recognition, but it can’t be the same as what governs marriage,” said Bishop Jaime Fuentes.Gee, why can’t we hear that kind of rhetoric from the clergy in America?