The Uruguay Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the South American country.
The 23-8 vote took place after an hours-long debate on the proposal.
The Uruguayan newspaper El País reported Sen. Rafael Michelini compared the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples in Uruguay as a “profound modification” for society that one could compare to the abolition of slavery and the law that established an eight hour work day. Sen. Francisco Gallinal told fellow senators that nuptials for gays and lesbians does not guarantee equality.
“The new marriage is not equal because it is not exclusive, it’s excluding,” he said, according to El País.
Neighboring Argentina, a handful of states in Brazil that include São Paolo and Mexico City currently allow gays and lesbians to tie the knot. The Colombian Senate on April 10 is scheduled to debate a proposal that would allow same-sex marriage in the country.
“We are really very happy with what is happening,” Federico Graña of Colectivo Ovejas Negras, an Uruguayan LGBT rights group, told the Washington Blade after the vote. “We think that we are at the point of achieving a breakthrough that will put our country among the first to recognize the right to all forms of love.”
A final vote is expected to take place in the House of Representatives, which overwhelmingly approved the proposal in December, on April 10 because it contains amendments the chamber needs to approve.
President José Mujica has previously said he will sign the measure into law.
“At this point we are focused on trying to gain final approval of the bill,” Graña said. “We think that next week we will be achieving this objective and achieving that which was only a dream a few years ago: changing the law.”