Uruguay Legalizes Gay Marriage, Becomes 12th Nation To Do So [VIDEO]

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Uruguay
Members of a comparsa, an Uruguayan carnival band, perform during the second night of the Llamadas parade in Montevideo February 10, 2012. The Llamadas, which is Spanish for "Call", originated during the colonial times when slaves played drums to keep in touch with relatives and friends.

Same-sex marriage has become law in Uruguay, making the country the third to do so in the Americas after Canada and Argentina.

Uruguay’s Congress overwhelmingly approved the law Wednesday, with 71 of the 92 members of the Chamber of Deputies in support, and President Jose Mujica will sign it within 10 days.

"We are living a historic moment," said Federico Grana, a leader of the gay rights group Black Sheep Collective, which was involved in  drafting the bill. "In terms of the steps needed, we calculate that the first gay couples should be getting married 90 days after the promulgation of the law, or in the middle of July."

The small South American country, which has a population of about 3.3 million people, joins 11 other countries that allow gay marriage including the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Denmark and its neighbor, Argentina.

Not only has Uruguay legalized gay marriage, but it has adopted a single set of rules in its marriage contracts for everyone -- gay or straight -- in which the words “husband and wife” will be replaced with a gender-neutral description of “contracting parties.”

In addition, under the law, all gay couples have the ability to adopt or have children through in-vitro fertilization and can choose which parent’s last name comes first for the child’s.

For Damian Diaz, a gay 25-year-old teacher in a committed relationship, this passage means full equality under the law, he told Reuters Television, “We’re definitely going to feel now that we live in a place where we’re recognized for who we are, where we get more respect and more acceptance.”

Uruguay, a largely Roman Catholic nation, was faced with opposition by the church, which said the term “marriage equality” is “an inconsistent assimilation that will only further weaken marriage.”

Watch Uruguay’s Congress erupt In cheers, voting in favor of gay marriage:

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