First gay wedding ceremony held in Uruguay, hours after first gay couple register to wed

MONTEVIDEO (AFP) - Uruguay saw its first gay marriage on Monday, but the big day was tinged with sadness because one of the men was on his deathbed.

The ceremony in the second country of Latin America to recognize same-sex marriage was held at a hospital in the capital, Montevideo.

It came hours after another gay couple became the first to register to wed, some time soon. Monday was the first day they could do so under a gay marriage law that was passed back in April.

The men who actually married sidestepped red tape by presenting a certificate stating the sick man is in imminent risk of death, said Mr Adolf Orellano, director of the Civil Registry.

"It was very emotional," Ms Luisa Salaberry, the government official who oversaw the wedding, told the website of the newspaper El Observador.

Normally, a couple has to wait ten days to wed after registering to do so.

But because of the illness, these men were allowed to carry out the fast-track nuptials.

They acted under legislation passed in April in this small, traditionally Roman Catholic country.

Earlier in the day, Mr Rodrigo Borda and Mr Sergio Miranda, aged 39 and 45, flashed big smiles as they addressed a gaggle of reporters upon leaving the civil registry in Montevideo where they signed up to wed.

"We are celebrating it and sharing it because this law establishes that we all have rights. There are no first- and second-class citizens," said Mr Miranda.

The men said they will pick a date for their actual wedding later this month.

Argentina legalised gay marriage in 2010, becoming the first Latin American country to do so.

After Uruguay did so with broad support from all its political parties, Brazil gave the green light to same-sex marriages in May.

They have also been legal in Mexico City since 2009, although not in the rest of the country.