- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 15, 2010

ARGENTINA

Gay marriage legalized in historic vote

BUENOS AIRES | Argentina legalized same-sex marriage Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to declare that gays and lesbians have all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexual couples.

After a marathon debate in Argentina’s Senate, 33 lawmakers voted in favor, 27 against, and 3 abstained in a vote that ended after 4 a.m. Because the lower house already has approved it and President Cristina Fernandez is a strong supporter, it becomes law as soon as it is published in the official bulletin, which should happen within days.

The law is sure to bring a wave of marriages by gays and lesbians, who have found Buenos Aires to be a welcoming place to live. But same-sex couples from other countries shouldn’t rush their Argentine wedding plans: Only citizens and residents can wed in the country, and the necessary documents can take months to obtain. While the vote makes some amendments to the civil code, many other aspects of family law will have to be changed.

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 led the campaign, saying “children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother.”

IRAN

At least 20 killed in bombings

TEHRAN | Twin bombings killed at least 20 people outside a mosque in southeastern Iran on Thursday - including members of the powerful Revolutionary Guard. The attacks came less than a month after Iran hanged the leader of a militant insurgent group in the region.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted the deputy governor of the Sistan-Baluchistan province, Jalal Sayyah, as saying the explosions tore through a crowd of Shiite worshippers near the main mosque in the provincial capital of Zahedan.

The deputy interior minister in charge of security, Ali Abdollahi, told the semiofficial Fars news agency that members of the Revolutionary Guard - the country’s most powerful military force - were killed in the blasts, which appeared to be the work of suicide bombers.

The head of the province’s medical emergency department, Fariborz Rashedi, told IRNA at least 20 people were killed and around 100 wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but Sistan-Baluchistan is home to the Jundallah insurgency, a Sunni group that has claimed responsibility for attacks that have killed scores in recent years, including five senior Revolutionary Guard commanders last year.

SWITZERLAND

Parliaments criticize Israel, Cambodia

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