Argentina has become the first Latin American country to legalise same-sex marriage.
President Cristina Fernandez is a strong supporter and the new law is expected to bring a wave of marriages.
The move grants homosexual couples all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage gives heterosexual couples.
The approval came despite a concerted campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups, which drew 60,000 people to march on Congress and urged parents in churches and schools to work against passage.
However, Senator Norma Morandini, another member of the president's party, compared the discrimination closeted gays face to the oppression imposed by Argentina's dictators decades ago. "What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance."
Same-sex civil unions have been legalised in Uruguay, Buenos Aires and some states in Mexico and Brazil. But Argentina now becomes the first country in Latin America to legalise same-sex marriage nationwide. Homosexual couples who marry will now get many more rights than civil unions, including adopting children and inheriting wealth. The proposed law broadly declares that "marriage provides for the same requisites and effects independent of whether the contracting parties are of the same or different sex."
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