Argentina today became the first country in Latin America to embrace same-sex marriage nationwide. Until now, only cities had legalized such rights, as did Mexico City in December.
Argentina's Senate early Thursday passed the bill 33-27 to grant same-sex couples all the legal rights of marriage that heterosexual couples enjoy.
The bill had been passed in May by Argentina's lower house, and is firmly supported by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is expected to sign it into law when she returns later this week from a state visit to China.
The debate pitted traditional voices and the Roman Catholic Church against President Fernandez and widespread public sentiment. Nearly 70 percent of Argentines support same-sex marriage, according to a June survey by Buenos Aires-based firm Analogias. Just seven years ago, a poll found that nearly half of all Argentines opposed a law that legalized civil unions in the capital.