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Three nations are about to join marriage equality club
Montevideo, Uruguay--Lawmakers made the South American country the third in the Western Hemisphere to legalize same-sex marriage on April 10, with 71 members of the Chamber of Deputies voting in favor.
Only 21 deputies present voted against the legislation, which had already been approved by both chambers of the legislature. However, senators amended the law to allow foreigners to enter into same-sex marriages in Uruguay as opposite-sex couples can, among other changes.
Those amendments require that the bill go back to the Chamber of Deputies for approval again, then to the desk of President José Mujica, who has said he will sign the measure.
The law makes statutes in the country non-gendered, removing the terms husband and wife. It also makes it easier for men to seek divorce. Previously, the law was changed in 1912 to allow women to unilaterally divorce their spouses. In addition, it changes the law for naming children. In Latin American countries, the father’s surname is used first, followed by the mother’s surname. Now, parents will have the choice of what order to put names in.
The law was championed by the governing Broad Front and President Mujica, who was in prison for over ten years for being a leftist guerilla in the 1970s. Under his tenure, the country already legalized abortion, although attempts to nationalize marijuana growth and sales were temporarily halted.
Canada and Argentina already have full marriage equality, along with some states in Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. The Mexican high court has ruled that same-sex marriages performed legally must be recognized in all states, but not that all states must perform them.
New Zealand bill also expected to pass
A bill to allow full marriage was expected to pass the New Zealand parliament on April 17, making it the 13th nation to do so, after Uruguay.
The measure, sponsored by Labour MP Louisa Wall, will receive its third and final reading, after passing its committee stages last month with a vote of 77 to 43.
The measure also allows gay and lesbian couples to adopt. If it passes, the first ceremonies would take place in August.
French measure clears high hurdle
The French Senate voted to allow same-sex marriage by a margin of 179-157. The April 9 vote was considered the measure’s highest hurdle to passage. It goes back to the lower house of the legislature for a second vote on minor changes, originally set for May 20.
However, days later, the Socialist Party, which holds power in France, announced it would head back to the National Assembly on April 17, meaning it could be law by the end of the month.
Debate over the bill has come at a price, however. One LGBT rights organization has noted a 30 percent increase in anti-gay assaults being reported last year over 2011.
The bill would also allow same-sex couples to adopt children. It was championed by President François Hollande during his campaign, and he has pushed it through opposition from right-wing and center-right parties, as well as the Catholic Church. The majority of French people support allowing same-sex marriage, but are more hesitant about extending adoption rights.
Ireland sets a public vote
To the north, on April 14 the Irish Constitutional Convention voted 79 percent in favor of sending civil marriage to the voters to decide.
After the report is sent to the legislature, the Oireachtas, Ireland’s parliament, will debate it. The Constitutional Convention also voted that it should be directive, telling the state to do it, rather than permissive, saying the state may do it.
A poll last year showed that three-quarters of the Irish people support same-sex marriage, up from 63 percent in 2008.
Nevada and Delaware move forward
Not all marriage news this month comes from abroad, however. Both Nevada and Delaware are moving on marriage equality.
On April 11, the Nevada Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections approved a constitutional amendment that would repeal the state’s 2002 marriage ban amendment and state that Nevada recognizes all marriages.
The measure must be approved by the legislature this year and in 2015 before going to voters for ratification. Originally, it would have simply removed the text defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, but a committee amendment added in the language allowing marriage regardless of gender.
“We felt it would be cleaner to both eliminate the current prohibition and make it clear Nevada does not discriminate in any way,” Sen. Tick Segerblom told the Associated Press.
Nevada has had a domestic partner law in place since 2009.
The same day, Delaware’s Gov. Jack Markell announced a marriage equality bill at a press conference, joined by Delaware Senate President Pro Tempore Patricial Blevins, House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf and Beau Biden, the state attorney general.
Markell signed a civil union bill into law two years ago. He believes the marriage bill will pass, as the Democratic Party controls both houses of the legislature.
In addition to Nevada and Delaware, marriage equality bills are in the legislatures of Minnesota, Rhode Island and Illinois. All three stand strong chances of passage.
The Republican National Committee on April 12 passed a resolution opposing marriage equality, putting them at odds with increasing numbers of their own members, including Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois.