BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s Senate narrowly approved a measure early on Thursday authorizing same-sex marriages, making Argentina the first country in Latin America to allow gay couples to wed.
After 15 hours of debate, the Senate voted 33 to 27 in favor of the measure, which was sponsored by the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. For weeks, she waged a bitter war of words with the Roman Catholic Church over the measure.
The church organized large protests throughout the country on Tuesday night involving tens of thousands of opponents of the law. Some senators criticized the Senate leadership on Wednesday for not allowing a vote on an alternative bill to authorize civil unions for gay couples.
The same-sex marriage measure will give gay people the same marital rights as heterosexuals, including adoption and inheritance rights.
Mrs. Kirchner harshly criticized church leaders on Monday, saying that their discourse on the issue resembled “the times of the Crusades” and that they failed to acknowledge how socially liberal Argentina had become.
“They are portraying this as a religious moral issue and as a threat to ‘the natural order,’ when what we are really doing is looking at a reality that is already there,” the president said from Beijing. “It would be a terrible distortion of democracy if they denied minorities their rights.”