An Argentinian Senate committee yesterday rejected a same-sex marriage bill backed by the Government following the handing in of a petition signed by over 635,000 people in defence of marriage last week.
Last Monday, representatives of a coalition of 400 organisations handed in 524,000 signatures and a statement supporting traditional marriage. A separate 110,000 signatures were also turned in from people who are urging lawmakers to put the issue before a popular vote.
The Senate is now set to consider a more limited civil partnership bill on Wednesday.
The development comes as pro-marriage campaigners prepare to march on the capital Buenos Aires. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pictured), archbishop of Buenos Aires and primate of Argentina, has urged the clergy to encourage their congregations to join the march.
The march is expected to draw participants from a range of social groups, including Church movements and groups from a variety of creeds, as well as labor unions and other civil organizations. The cardinal recalled that marchers are to carry "only Argentinian flags or positive slogans for man-woman marriage."
Pro-marriage forces stepped up their campaign against the same-sex marriage proposal last week.
Last Sunday, a statement by the Argentinian Catholic bishops, attacking the proposal, was read out during Mass.
The document stressed that "marriage as a stable relationship between man and woman, who in their diversity complement one another for the transmission and care of life, is a good that does much for the development of persons as well as society.”
They affirmed that "heterosexuality as a requisite for marriage is not to discriminate," but rather to base marriage on an objective premise. "The contrary would be to ignore its essence."
"Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the numerous variations that it might have undergone in the course of the centuries in various cultures, social structures and spiritual attitudes," the prelates noted. "These differences must not make one forget its common and permanent features."