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Latin America sees its first same-sex marriage

Jose Maria di Bello, left, and Alex Freyre were married Monday in the state of Tierra del Fuego.
Jose Maria di Bello, left, and Alex Freyre were married Monday in the state of Tierra del Fuego.
  • Alex Freyre and Jose Maria di Bello marry at the southern tip of Argentina
  • It's the first legal same-sex marriage in Latin America
  • They have a been through a series of court rulings; legality of union still may be tested
  • Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador addressing issue of same-sex civil unions

Buenos Aires, Argentina (CNN) -- Less than one month after a Buenos Aires court derailed the marriage of Alex Freyre and Jose Maria di Bello, the couple wed Monday at the southern tip of Argentina, making it the first same-sex marriage in Latin America.

"As a couple, we dreamed of marrying for a long time," Freyre told the state-run Telam news agency.

Their marriage was hailed as a victory by gay rights groups in Argentina, though it was unknown whether the legality of their marriage would face any challenges.

After a legal battle earlier this year, a court in the capital, Buenos Aires, ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage was illegal and ordered the proper authorities to grant the couple a marriage license if they applied for one.

On the eve of their December 1 wedding, however, another court filed an injunction, putting the brakes on the nuptials.

In Argentina, the issue of same-sex marriage is decided on the local and state level.

So Freyre and di Bello went to the southernmost state of Tierra del Fuego, where a pro-gay marriage governor welcomed the event, Telam reported.

Although the federal government could not directly intervene, Argentina's National Institute Against Xenophobia and Racism (INADI) helped find a friendly jurisdiction where the couple could have their wedding, the institute's president, Claudio Morgado, told Telam.

Morgado was even a witness at the ceremony.

"This is the purpose of INADI, to safeguard the rights of citizens who do not fully enjoy these rights," Morgado said, according to the state-run news agency.

The original ruling against a ban on gay marriage was made on November 10 by Buenos Aires trial-level judge Gabriela Seijas. Her decision applied only to Buenos Aires.

"The law should treat each person with equal respect in relation to each person's singularities without the need to understand or regulate them," Seijas said in her ruling.

Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri said after the ruling that his government would not appeal the decision, but a second trial judge filed an injunction until the issue could be considered further.

Countries in Latin America, a region strongly identified with the Catholic Church, have recently given more attention to gay rights.

Earlier this month, Mexico City's legislative assembly passed a bill legalizing gay marriage there.

In September, Uruguay became the first Latin American country to allow same-sex adoption.

Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador are also addressing the issue of same-sex civil unions.