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Mexico City promises free honeymoon to Argentina's first gay married couple

Mexico City, the first city in Latin America to legalize gay marriage, has offered a free vacation to the first gay married couple in Argentina, which became the first country in Latin America to approve gay marriage.

By Staff Writer / July 15, 2010

Demonstrators wave a gay pride flag outside Congress in support of a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in Buenos Aires, Wednesday. Mexico City has promised a free honeymoon to the first gay married couple in Argentina.

Natacha Pisarenko/AP

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Mexico City

Mexico City has promised a free honeymoon in this megapolis for the first same-sex couple that marries in Argentina.

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It is definitely an offer intended to advertise gay-friendly tourism, which many cities have sought to promote, but Mexico City´s offer is not as random as it might appear at first: the two locales have both legalized gay marriage in Latin America.

Mexico City did so last year. And after more than 14 hours of a heated debate and warring words, Argentina today became the first country in Latin America to embrace same-sex marriage nationwide.

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.

Bitter divisions

Today's debate still drew bitter divisions between supporters and opponents, as it has across the US, Europe, and pockets of Latin America.

Local television showed thousands of protesters braving the cold wintry air of Buenos Aires to voice opposition to the bill throughout the night, while supporters held candlelight vigils. The government's National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Racism organized a public gathering of artists to support the bill.

In deeply Catholic Latin America, the church has taken a leading voice among opponents. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio called gay marriage in Argentina a loss for everyone, saying “children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother.”

Ms. Fernandez, speaking from China, reiterated her support for the bill and her dissent with the Catholic Church over the issue. “It's very worrisome to hear words like 'God's war' or 'the devil's project,' things that recall the times of the Inquisition," she said this week.

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