BY Julie Bolcer
October 30 2009 7:25 AM ET
Argentina could become the first country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage, pending the outcome of a debate now under way in the congress. The capital city of Buenos Aires was the first in the region to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples in 2002.
Activists and their congressional supporters would need to overcome the powerful influence of the Roman Catholic Church in order to pass their proposals, according to the Associated Press.
“It remains to be seen whether activists have enough votes to overcome opposition from religious groups,” the AP reported. “The Roman Catholic Church remains a driving force in Argentina, where presidents were required to be both married and Catholic until a 1994 reform.”
Although President Cristina Fernandez has yet to make her feelings on gay marriage known, activist Maria Rachid believes the measure can at least advance to a vote in the lower house of the congress, according to the AP.
“The proposal has ruling-party support, but President Cristina Fernandez has yet to take a public stand on gay marriage,” the AP reported. “Rachid said more than 20 lawmakers have signed on as supporters of same-sex marriage, and they believe they have enough votes in committee for a full vote in the lower house. It would then go to the Senate.”
Rachid is a party to a gay marriage lawsuit pending in the supreme court in Argentina.