Argentina: Church protests over same-sex marriage law

Following almost fifteen hours of debate on Thursday,  the senate of Argentina approved a law to allow marriage between persons of the same sex. Argentina is the first Latin American country to adopt this norm, in fact only the region of Mexico City (but not the rest of the country) has passed a similar law.

The law in Argentina proposed by the government of Cristina Fernandez was approved by 33 votes in favour, 27 against and three abstentions. Members of the Catholic Church have been calling for a national referendum to annul the law.

On 17 November 2009, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, issued a statement on the position of the local Church: “The word ‘matrimony’ stems from the legitimate quality of ‘mother’ which a women acquires through matrimony. Erroneously many have attempted to associate the term 'matrimony' with the Catholic sacrament of the same name. People fail to remember that the word and the reality it describes was consecrated by Ancient Roman Law, long before Christianity appeared in the history of humanity.”

Less than a month ago the local Church endorsed a Statement by the Bishops of the Region Patagonia-Comahue - "A call to seek the Common Good " - to demonstrate its position. The four page statement firmly opposes the new law. The statement reads: “We are convinced in this context debate on the Proposed Law on Matrimony between persons of the same sex has been imposed on the people with total disregard for its genuine and profound sub-strata, its cultural heritage and scale of values. This is grave manipulation which degrades our democratic and pluralist nation.”

The statement not only supplies reasons for recognising this type of union it also deals with the issue of adoption by same sex partners: “No less important is the matter regarding same sex couples and the adoption of children. We believe no one has the right to adopt. Instead the child has the right to a family, as it is stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in the preamble, paragraph 5. A presumed right of adults cannot prevail over the priority right of children.”

The statement concludes: “For this reason we reject the proposed law to legalise same sex unions to grant them the same status as matrimony and the right to adopt children”.

Argentina's first gay marriage has been set for August 13 between a 61-year-old man and his 60-year-old partner, officials said onFriday. The first union was authorized by municipal officials in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires for actor Ernesto Rodriguez Larrese, 60, and Alejandro Vanelli, 61, who have lived together for 34 years.

The couple first applied for the ceremony three years ago, but were rejected.

Source: Fides/ICN

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