Published on July 22nd, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
President Kirchner’s Marriage Bill is Timed Perfectly for Tourism Confab
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner signed same-sex marriage into law on July 21.
Last night, hundreds of people gathered at the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires for a historic event: Argentina’s president, Cristina Kirchner, signed into law a same-sex marriage bill. It is the first such nationwide legislation in Latin America, and only the second in the entire western hemisphere.
The timing couldn’t have been better for the organizers of GNetwork360, the annual LGBT tourism conference in Buenos Aires, which officially kicked off the same day with a speech by Argentina’s newly appointed tourism minister, Enrique Meyer.
Conference organizers Pablo De Luca and Gustavo Noguera arranged for several conference delegates (including this reporter) to attend President Kirchner’s historic signing, during which crowds cheered and chanted “Cristina! Cristina! Cristina!” Attendees at the signing ceremony, which took place in the Gallery of Latin American Patriots inside the Casa Rosada, included politicians, gay rights activists, and a row of members from Madres de Plaza de Mayo, which formed years ago in memory of people who disappeared during Argentina’s military regime in the 1970s. These women nodded their heads silently as President Kirchner ticked off the reasons why the time is right for same-sex marriage rights in this South American nation.
“I feel like I’m living a historic moment,” President Kirchner said during a private meeting that De Luca and Noguera had arranged for my group of conference delegates.
When I asked her what affect the legislation might have on other parts of Latin America, Kirchner said that she hadn’t heard reactions from government leaders in other countries yet, but expects to during an upcoming regional summit. “I think it will have a great effect,” she predicted, explaining that Argentina has a tradition of activism and progressiveness. “We’re providing a lighthouse,” she said, which others can look to.
As for the effect on LGBT tourism, Kirchner predicted a positive effect, although, she added, “Argentina and Buenos Aires have always been a [gay-] friendly destination.”