Sealed with a kiss: Chile celebrates first same-sex weddings
Under a law approved by Congress in December and signed by outgoing President Sebastian Pinera, they can also now adopt children.
"We never imagined we would experience this moment in Chile," Jaime Nazar, 39, declared proudly after marrying his partner of seven years Javier Silva, 38, in a Santiago suburb.
The pair’s two young children were there for the historic event.
"Now, yes, we can say we are a family," said Silva.
"Our children have the same conditions (as those of straight couples) and will have a better future without discrimination for having two dads who love each other," he added.
Silva carried the couple’s 18-month-old son in his arms, while Nazar bore their daughter of four months.
The children are the product of surrogate pregnancies abroad that used the sperm of one of the couple. Until now, they had only one legally recognized father -- the biological donor.
From 2015 until Thursday, same-sex couples wishing to formalize their relationship had only the option of civil union agreements, which confer most of the same rights that marriage does, but without the possibility of legal adoption.
"This is a very important step for the country. We feel super proud, privileged to be here," said Nazar, who is a dentist.
Consuelo Morales and Pabla Heuser, both 38, said they decided to get married mainly for their two-year-old daughter Josefa.
"Today Josefa ceases to be an illegitimate daughter," said Morales. Heuser, who carried the child in her womb, had been the girl’s sole legal parent until now.
In total, three same-sex weddings took place in Chile Thursday -- the day the law took effect.
It came on the eve of the swearing-in of leftist Gabriel Boric as Chile’s youngest-ever president.
Chile had been awaiting the passage of the marriage bill since then-president Michelle Bachelet sent it to Congress in 2017.
In a surprise move, her conservative successor Pinera announced last year he would seek the urgent passage of the bill -- supported by a majority of Chileans -- through Congress.
Pinera signed it into law just two days after lawmakers gave the green light ahead of presidential elections in which Boric and his far-right rival Jose Antonio Kast polled neck-and neck.
Kast vehemently opposed broadening access to marriage rights, unlike Boric who supported the move.
Chile is now one of 30 countries in the world that allow same-sex marriage, and seven in Latin America along with Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and some states in Mexico.