After a 27-year courtship, two men on Friday became the first gay couple to wed under Argentina's historic same-sex marriage law — the first of its kind for a Latin American nation.
Jose Luis Navarro, 54, and Miguel Angel Calefato, 65, tied the knot in provincial Santiago del Estero in an early morning ceremony where a civil registry official used a pen to cross out “man and woman” on the marriage license and wrote in “contracting parties.”
“Respect has prevailed over prejudice,” Navarro, an architect, told the newspaper El Liberal.
He said he met his new husband, now a retired office worker, while vacationing at a beach resort nearly three decades ago, and “there was chemistry from the first moment.”
Argentina became the first country in Latin America to permit gay marriage after President Cristina Fernandez signed the law July 21. The legislation was passed by both houses of Congress despite fierce opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.
The law declares that wedded gay and lesbian couples have all the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexual marriages, including the right to inheritance and to jointly adopt children.
Elsewhere in Latin America, gay marriage is also allowed in Mexico City, while same-sex civil unions granting some rights are legal in Uruguay and in some states in Mexico and Brazil. Colombia's Constitutional Court has granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to health insurance plans.
Nine same-sex couples also married in Argentina before the law passed, having successfully petitioning judges for the right. But some of those weddings had been challenged in courts.
Navarro and Calefato's wedding was the first of many expected in coming weeks. Hours later, agent Alejandro Vanelli and actor Ernesto Larrese said “I do” in the capital, Buenos Aires, after 34 years as partners.
“What comes now is more love, more freedom, and that can't be anything but positive,” Larrese said.
At least three more same-sex marriages are scheduled for the weekend.
Mexico City tourism officials have offered a free honeymoon as a gift to the first couple to marry in Argentina, but Navarro said he and Calefato were reluctant to accept.
“It seems superficial to think of marrying just to win a prize,” Navarro said.