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Argentina celebrates first same-sex marriage since new law enacted

By the CNN Wire Staff
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1st gay couple weds in Argentina
  • Argentina is the first Latin American nation to allow same-sex marriage
  • The federal law was enacted July 15
  • The legality of same-sex marriage had been determined at the local and state levels
  • Another couple celebrated a same-sex marriage in December

Buenos Aires, Argentina (CNN) -- Two men who have been together for 34 years have become the first couple to obtain a same-sex marriage since it became legal in Argentina on July 15.

Artistic representative Alejandro Vanelli and actor Ernesto Larrese were married in a civil ceremony Friday morning in Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital.

They wore dark suits and striped blue ties and were surrounded by well-wishers and a throng of reporters, photographers and videographers.

Larrese spoke to his partner -- but also to the nation at large.

"To all those who are afraid ... those who are homophobic ... I tell them, don't worry; this doesn't affect you," Larrese said. "You have nothing to fear. Fear is the opposite of love. Any phobia can be cured with love. There is nothing love cannot cure.

"Alejandro, I love you, and I renew my vows to you for 34 more years."

They were not the first same-sex couple to be married in the nation; just the first since the federal law was enacted.

Previously, Argentina did not have a nationwide law but let state and local governments decide whether to allow same-sex marriages.

Alex Freyre and Jose Maria di Bello were married in Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of Argentina, in December. They are believed to be the first same-sex couple to be married in Latin America.

Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage when lawmakers in the Senate passed the bill this month after 14 hours of debate. The bill had already passed the lower chamber of Congress.

It gives same-sex couples equal marriage rights, including the ability to adopt children.

The law was backed by the center-left government of President Cristina Kirchner, who signed the measure into law.

The majority Roman Catholic country joins a few others around the world where same-sex marriage is legal. Among them are the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.

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

Mexico City's legislative assembly passed a bill last year legalizing gay marriage there.

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