Marriage Equality's Hero of the Month for August

5 Aug 2010

84781276 (3) Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Marriage Equality has chosen Argentina's President, Cristina Fernandez, as its Hero of the Month for August.

Argentina legalised same-sex marriage last month, becoming the first country in Latin America to put same-sex couples on an equal footing with heterosexual couples. Mexico City until now has been the only place in Latin America where same-sex couples had the same rights as heterosexual couples to marry and adopt children.

During the marathon 15-hour debate, 33 senators voted in favour, 27 against and three abstained. Argentina's lower house had already approved the bill and President Fernández was a strong supporter on human rights grounds, declaring that it would be a "terrible distortion of democracy" to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to get married.

The President pointed out that it was time for religious leaders to recognise how much more liberal and less discriminatory the nation's social mores had become. A campaign against the bill by the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups had drawn 60,000 people to march on congress, with parents in churches and schools urged to fight the plans.

On the evening of July 21, President Fernández convened a ceremony at the Casa Rosada government house in downtown Buenos Aires to formally sign into law a bill legalising gay marriage.

"Today we are a society that is a little more egalitarian than last week," President Fernandez said at the signing ceremony to cheers of "Equality, equality" from representatives of gay and lesbian groups.
"We haven't enacted a law, but rather a social, transversal, diverse, plural, all-encompassing construction, which doesn't belong to anyone but society," she continued.

The law foresees a modification of article 2 of the Argentine Civil Code, which establishes matrimony as being between two individuals of different gender. The new legislation will replace the expression "man and woman" with "couple".

Same-sex couples will have exactly the same rights as heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt, inheritance, pension rights and other rights relating to social security.

Marriage Equality applauds President Fernández being an equality innovator and making human rights a priority issue by advocating for marriage equality in Argentina, the first South American country to introduce civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.