Argentine couple holds first Latin America gay wedding

10:10, December 29, 2009      

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Jose Maria Di Bello (L) and his partner Alex Freyre show their marriage license after getting married at a government's registry office in Ushuaia, December 28, 2009.[Agencies]

Two Argentine men wed in Latin America's first same-sex marriage on Monday, helped by a provincial governor who ignored a court ruling that blocked their marriage plans earlier this month.

Alex Freyre, 39, and Jose Maria Di Bello, 41, were married in the southern Argentine city of Ushuaia in a ceremony with a small group of onlookers and friends.

"We're extremely excited and happy about what this means for all gays and lesbians in Argentina," DiBello said.

The two men, who are HIV positive, were granted a marriage license by a municipal judge in Buenos Aires in November that allowed the couple to wed in Argentina's capital, despite a national policy of defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

They planned to marry December 1 for World Aids Day but a federal judge overturned the wedding decision and ordered it suspended.

The couple then traveled to Ushuaia in the province of Tierra del Fuego, where they were given residency by the governor, who upheld the initial ruling allowing them to marry, said Claudio Morgado, president of the Argentine gay rights group National Institute Against Discrimination, Zenophia and Racism.

"The first same-sex marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean finally took place," said Morgado, a witness to the wedding. "This has been possible thanks to a long fight for our rights."

Argentina became the first Latin American country to allow civil unions by same-sex couples in 2002.

Civil unions in Buenos Aires and other Argentine cities grant same-sex couples some legal marital rights, but not others, such as the right to adopt. Elsewhere in Latin America, same-sex civil unions are allowed in Uruguay and Mexico City.

Last week, Mexico City legislators approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.

"We weren't going to give up until we married," Freyre said.

Source: China Daily/Agencies
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