“This is not a homosexual or gay marriage law. It is a measure to equalize the institution independent of the sex of the couple,” said Julio Bango, one of the bill’s authors.
The law would also allow all couples, gay or straight decide whose surname goes first when they name their children, breaking with a tradition that has held for centuries across Latin America, where in nearly every country, laws require people to give their children two last names, and the father’s comes first, reported Associated Press.
The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to the proposal, but the church has little political influence in secular Uruguay.
The measure was approved by a vote of 81-18.
In recent years, Uruguay has moved to allow same-sex civil unions, adoption by gay couples, and to allow gay members of the armed forces.
The new proposal would make Uruguay the second nation in Latin America and the 12th in the world to legalize gay marriage, after The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark.