Uruguay was the first country in South America with civil unions and now, with 71 of the 91 members of the country’s House voting in favor, same-sex marriage is in the near future. The law, which was backed by the Senate, is fully supported by President Jose Mujica, who is expected to sign it within two weeks. It will be the 12th country in the world, the third in the Americas, with full marriage equality. The first gay couples could be married 90 days later in mid-July.
Uruguay’s law, however, goes a step further than most by making a uniform set of rules for all couples, gay and straight alike, by outlining that the words “husband and wife” in marriage contracts will be changed to the gender-neutral “contracting parties,” all couples will get to decide which parent’s surname comes first when they have children, all couples can adopt, or undergo in-vitro fertilization, the age when people can legally marry has gone from 12 for girls and 14 for boys to 16 for both genders, and divorce laws have also been updated so that either spouse can request and be granted a divorce (since 1912, the law provided that only women could request a divorce in an effort to give women an equal share of power to men).
“We are living a historic moment,” said Federico Grana, a leader of the Black Sheep Collective. “In terms of the steps needed, we calculate that the first gay couples should be getting married 90 days after the promulgation of the law, or in the middle of July.”