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Mexico City has become the first city in Latin America to legalise same-sex marriage.

The city authorities voted 39-20 in favour of the legislation, with five abstentions.

While civil unions exist in a handful of cities and states throughout South America, this is the first time equal marriage has been realised.

Mexico City has had civil unions since 2007, but same-sex couples were barred from certain marital rights such as adoption of children, joint bank loans, inheritance rights and inclusion in insurance policies.

Mexico City’s left wing mayor Marcelo Ebrard is expected to sign the bill into law. The bill will change the definition of marriage in the city’s civic code from “the union of a man and a woman” to “the free uniting of two people”.

Elsewhere in Mexico, same-sex marriage remains illegal.

Certain districts in Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina recognise same sex unions, with Uruguay being the only Latin American country to have civil unions nationwide.

In October, a bill was introduced in Argentina to legalise same-sex marriage nationwide, but the bill was blocked in court. It has since been referred to Argentina’s Supreme Court which has yet to hand down a ruling.

The Roman Catholic church in Mexico is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, but Mexico City legislators have hailed the new law as “historic”.

Victor Romo, a member of Mayor Ebrard’s Democratic Revolution Party told the Associated Press, “For centuries unjust laws banned marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans. Today all barriers have disappeared.”

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from YahooNews:

Victoria Kennedy, widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy hugs Senator Majority Leader Harry

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats passed a landmark health care bill in a climactic Christmas Eve vote that could define President Barack Obama’s legacy and usher in near-universal medical coverage for the first time in the country’s history.

(more…)

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