Argentine Senate Legalizes Gay Marriage

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In an historic vote, Argentina's Senate voted on Thursday to legalize gay marriage.

In addition to marriage, the measure also grants adoption rights to same-sex couples. If signed into law, Argentina would become the first nation in Latin America to extend to gays and lesbians all the rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage gives heterosexual couples.

The measure passed in the early morning hours with 33 lawmakers voted in favor, 27 voting in opposition, and three abstaining.

Click play for an updated report with CBN News' Stan Jeter.

"Today's historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic values, and how far the freedom to marry movement has come, as twelve countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality," said Evan Wolfson, who runs the U.S. 'Freedom to Marry' lobby.

Approval of the new law came despite stiff opposition from the country's influential Catholic Church.

Catholics and evangelicals organized a massive protest on Tuesday in front of the nation's Senate building.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said "everyone loses" with gay marriage, and "children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother."

Ines Franck, director of the group Familias Argentinas, said the measure runs contrary to centuries of tradition.

He said opposing the law "is not discrimination because the essence of a family is between two people of opposite sexes. Any variation goes against the law, and against nature."

Meanwhile, President Cristina Fernandez has indicated she will sign the bill, making Argentina one of only a handful of countries in the world to legally validate homosexual marriages.

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