On Monday, two men rushed to the Montevideo civil registry before dawn to be the first same-sex couple in Uruguay to register for marriage on the morning that a marriage equality law went into effect. The men, TV producer Sergio Miranda, 45, and artist Rodrigo Borda, 39, have been dating for 14 years, according to USA Today.
“This is an historic day for us and for the country,” Borda said. “No longer will there be first- and second-class citizens. This will be seen in many countries where this option still isn’t possible, and hopefully help people in those places live more freely.”
Uruguay’s gay marriage law took effect on Monday after a 90-day waiting period following President Jose Mujica’s signing the law in May, making Uruguay the 12th country in the world to legalize gay marriage. The law makes the Roman Catholic nation only the second nation in South America to legalize gay marriage, according to the BBC. Argentina legalized same-sex marriage three years ago, and Brazil passed similar legislation right on the heels of Uruguay.
The gay marriage legalization is part of a larger movement headed by the Uurguayan leader to pass a liberal agenda, which includes a 2012 law allowing first trimester abortions. (When the abortion law passed, Uruguay became the third Latin American nation to legalize abortion beyond cases of rape, incest or threat to a woman’s health, after Guyana and Cuba.) The House of Representatives also just passed a bill that will legalize marijuana, but that legislation still needs to be approved by the Senate.
While Miranda and Borda were the first same-sex couple to register for marriage in Uruguary, they won’t be the first to tie the same-sex knot there. Couples must usually wait ten days to get married after registering. For the unnamed couple that took that honor, the victory was bittersweet. They were allowed to bypass the bureaucratic red tape because one of the grooms is not expected to live much longer as he struggles with an advanced stage of cancer. The ceremony was officiated in the hospital by Luisa Salaberry, a civil registry worker who described it as very emotional and intimate.
Borda and Miranda, meanwhile, say they plan to throw a large and very public wedding to serve as an example for other Uruguayan gay couples who might be scared to get married, they say. The wedding is scheduled for September.