On July 22, 2010, the marriage bill became law and Argentina became the 11th government in the world, and the first Latin American country to offer same-sex marriage nationally.
The law’s passage was a priority for President Cristina Fernandez’s government, and has inspired activists to push for similar laws in other countries. However, there were political risks for Fernandez and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner. The vote divided their governing coalition, and, while gay rights have strong support in the capital, strong anti-gay feelings still run in much of Argentine society, where the vast majority of people are Roman Catholic.
In late 2009, the Argentine Congress considered two proposals, sponsored by Silvia Augsburger and Vilma Ibarra, to change Article 172 of the Civil Code.
On October 27, 2009, the same-sex marriage bills were debated in the Chamber of Deputies’ General Law Committee and the Committee on Family, Women, Children and Youth. Ibarra expressed her desire to have same-sex marriage in Argentina approved by the end of 2009. Debate on the bills continued on November 5 and on November 10, before being postponed and resuming in March 2010. A survey taken at the time found that 70 percent of Argentines supported legalizing same-sex marriage.
On November 12, 2009, a court in Buenos Aires approved the marriage of a same-sex couple, Alex Freyre and José María Bello, ruling that articles 172 and 188 of the Civil Code were unconstitutional. The city Chief of Government, Mauricio Macri, said he would not appeal the ruling, but the wedding was blocked on November 30 by another court, pending review by the Supreme Court.
In December 2009, the Governor of Tierra del Fuego Province, Fabiana Ríos de Longhi, ordered the civil registry office to perform and register Alex Freyre and José María Bello’s marriage. On December 28, the two men were legally wed in Ushuaia, the provincial capital city, making them the first same-sex couple to marry in Latin America.
On March 10, 2010, a judge in Buenos Aires declared a second same-sex marriage, between Damián Bernath and Jorge Esteban Salazar Capón, illegal.
On April 14, 2010, the Alex Freyre and José María Bello marriage was declared null and void, but technically remains legal because the decision was not communicated to the parties. In the event that the parties were notified, the married couple said it would appeal the decision, leaving the marriage legal until the final verdict.
On April 15, 2010, the Chamber of Deputies’ General Law Committee and the Committee on Family, Women, Children and Youth recommended implementation of same-sex marriage.
On April 16, a third same-sex marriage between two women was annulled by a judge who ruled that the Buenos Aires Civil Registry limits marriage to a man and a woman. Administrative Judge Elena Liberatori later overturned the decision and ruled the marriage between the two women valid, ordering the Civil Registry of Buenos Aires to deliver the marriage certificate to the court.
On May 5, 2010, the Chamber of Deputies passed the same-sex marriage bill that also allowed same-sex couples to adopt, by a vote of 125-109.
By mid-2010, since the first legal marriage of a same-sex couple took place (in December 2009), seven other same-sex couples had joined in legal matrimony in Argentina. The Supreme Court was hearing several cases concerning the right of same-sex couples to marry.
On July 2, 2010, it was reported that the Supreme Court had a prepared ruling concerning María Rachid and Claudia Castro’s case, which declared articles 172 and 188 of the Civil Code as unconstitutional.
On July 6, 2010, the Senate’s General Law Committee recommended rejection of the bill.
The bill was originally scheduled to be voted on July 14, however, after a marathon debate that went into the early hours of the next day.
On July 15, 2010, the Senate voted for legal marriage 33-27, with 3 abstentions, after a marathon debate that touched on religion, ethics, the legacy of Argentina’s dictatorship and the challenges of raising children.
On July 21, 2010, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed the bill into law.
On July 22, 2010, the law was published in the Official Gazette, which made the bill into law.
Maria Rachid, president of the Argentine Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender federation:
“From today onward, Argentina is a more just and democratic country. (The law) not only recognizes the rights of our families, but also the possibility of having access to health care, to leave a pension, to leave our assets to the people with whom we have shared many years of life, including our children.”
The approval came despite a concerted campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups, which drew 60,000 people to march on Congress and urged parents in churches and schools to work against passage. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, led the campaign, stating that he bill was a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”
Cardinal Bergoglio also said: “Children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother.” He did not, apparently, campaign to remove children from single moms and dads.
Opponents of same-sex marriage proposed a civil union law instead that would have barred gays from adopting or undergoing in-vitro fertilization to have children, and enabled any civil servant to “conscientiously object” to register same-sex couples. In the end, parliamentary maneuvers kept the Senate from voting on civil unions as the government bet all or nothing on the more politically difficult option of marriage.
Esteban Paulon, the LGBT federation’s general secretary:
“I’m proud that we never tried for civil unions, always for complete equality. (I have) an enormous conviction that equality means the same rights with the same names.”
Sen. Juan Perez Alsina, usually a loyal supporter of the president, called marriage between a man and a woman “essential for the preservation of the species.” However, he did not, apparently, elaborate as to how expanding equal rights to same-sex couples would stop opposite-sex couples from copulating.
But others compared the discrimination closeted gays face to the oppression millions suffered under Argentina’s dictatorship years ago, and urged their fellow senators to show the world how much Argentina has matured. “Society has grown up. We aren’t the same as we were before,” Sen. Daniel Filmus said.
The law modifies article 2 of the Argentine Civil Code, which establishes matrimony as being between two individuals of different gender. The new legislation will replace the expression “man and woman” with “couple.”
Same-sex couples will have exactly the same marital rights as opposite-sex couples. This includes the right to adopt, inheritance, pension rights and other rights relating to social security.
At least one of the marriage partners must be a native Argentinean or a Resident of the country. Argentine law does not differentiate between Argentinean or foreigners; the classification is between Resident and Non Residents.
- Any 2 people, who are single and at least 18 years old.
- At least one partner must be a Resident. (Necessary residency documents can take months to obtain.)
- Necessary documents:
- DNI (ID) stating at least one partner is a valid Resident of Argentinean.
- Proof of age.
- Prenuptial Medical Test results.
- Document stating valid residency in the territory or province where the marriage will take place.
- Application fee: Pesos 30 (approx. US$9).
- There is a 28 days wait time for finalizing the marriage.
- The civil marriage service takes place at any official branch of the Registro Civil.
- The Argentinean Civil Code (Art. 89) determines that the real address of a person, is that, where he/she has established his/her residency and businesses.
- Civil code (Art. 92) states that, for a room or space to be considered an address, the permanence of the individual at that address, must be habitual and not accidental, regardless of the intention of constituting that address as the permanent one. Hotels or cruise ships are considered to be accidental.
- Applying for a Resident VISA is not difficult, however, it does take time.
- All visas require a consular interview and documents from your home country. Therefore, it is impossible to obtain your visa while you are inside Argentina.
- You need to apply for a visa at least 2 months, and 3-4 months is preferred, before you intend to arrive.
- It usually takes about a month to gather, notarize, and legalize all the paperwork required by the Department of Migrations.
- You cannot get a DNI (an ID) without getting your residency. A DNI is the identity document that is given to all Argentines.
- If you don’t have a residency visa, you don’t have the legal right to live in the country. So, you won’t be able to get a DNI.
Warnings: Marriage Law Pitfalls
Your marital status will only be recognized at those countries and territories where same-sex marriage is legal. This recognition is vital for many reasons, including getting a divorce.
It takes 1-to-3 years before a divorce in Argentina is finalized. It is likely that the residency requirment for getting a marriage license will still need to be in place to obtain a divorce.
Divorce was not allowed in Argentina until May 1987.
Now, it is available:
(1) By mutual consent, or
(2) For reasons of drug addiction, alcoholism, physical abuse, mental illness, adultery or desertion.
Argentines may remarry as soon as their divorces are finalized. A mutual consent couple must be separated at least 1 year before it is finalized. Divorce at the request of just one party becomes possible after a separation of at least 3 years.
When you marry in Argentina, marital partners share all assets. If you divorce, all assets are divided 50/50. However, any property you had before getting married is yours alone. So, if you can document that you owned some property, a company, or some investment before you married, it remains yours after divorce.
Women get custody of all children under 5 at the time the divorce goes through. The judge can rule against this if he feels it is not in the best interest of the child. Paternity falls to the ex-husband for any child born within 300 days after the dissolution of a marriage or filing for divorce. After 300 days, a man is no longer presumed to be the father of a woman’s baby and therefore is not responsible for the child’s care or upkeep.
If you live in a country that doesn’t honor your marriage — which may not be determined until requesting something usually triggered by a marriage license — that state’s courts will also be unlikely to grant you a divorce.
The ability to divorce is critical. Besides the emotional reasons to dissolve a no longer functioning union, there are legal entanglements to consider. For instance, should one of the partners form a new relationship, they would not be able to sign up their new partner for workplace benefits. Most employers require an affidavit that stipulates that the partners are not married to anyone else, or have another domestic partner.
Note on Argentine Marriage from U.S. Embassy
The following information was posted in 2011 at the U.S. Embassy in Argentina, and is likely out of date.
No Marriage Can Be Performed If Both Parties Are Tourists In Argentina
- Application forms for permission to marry must be picked up at the district civil registry office no less than 30 days prior to the date the marriage is to take place.
- Normally the district of residence of the bride or groom will determine which district civil registry office will be used.
- Medical examination forms are picked up at the same time at the same office.
- A doctor will be specified.
- There is a fee for the marriage book.
- The interested parties will pick up the results of the examination.
- Either party may request the civil registry office in the area of residence to perform the marriage.
- Proof of previous marriages must show legal termination either by death or divorce.
- Death certificates or divorce decrees issued in the United States must be authenticated by apostille from the office of the Secretary of State in the state where the divorce decree was issued.
- This apostille process is accepted by the government of Argentina under the Hague Convention.
- Applicants stand in line on the appointed date at the Civil Registry Office on the first come-first served basis. The ceremony will last only a few minutes.
- Two witnesses must be in attendance at the ceremony.
- * Brides: from 16-20 years old, and grooms: from 18-20 years old. Birth certificate and parents’ Ids, plus a parental authorization must be presented. (death certificate is needed if one of the parents is deceased). If the parents do not issue their consent, a judicial authorization will be needed. If one of the parents is absent, the one who is present must submit an ID and an authorization from the absent parent, authenticated by the nearest Argentine Consulate and subsequently authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Buenos Aires.
* Editorial Note:
Previous law spelled out the marriage regulations for minors. Presumably, “brides” will be translated to “females,” and “grooms” will translate to “males.”
Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
South Africa (2005)
New Zealand (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
United States (2015)
US States & Territories
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Rhode Island (2013)
New Jersey (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
West Virginia (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
Ruling: All U.S. States must now
allow same-sex couples the
freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes|
Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)