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Argentine president, godmother to lesbians’ baby

April 4, 2014

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez has agreed to be the godmother of a lesbian couple’s baby in a Roman Catholic cathedral.

Umma Azul, who is just over 2 months old, will be baptized Saturday in a ceremony with her two mothers. She’s the first child known to receive this church blessing in Argentina.

An Argentine law based on an old Russian tradition allows couples to ask presidents to be godparents for their seventh child.

Nancy Esteche, who runs the presidential office that arranges these baptisms, confirmed Friday that Fernandez agreed to make an exception for this first daughter of Carina Villarroel and Soledad Ortiz, who were married last year.

Fernandez won a political battle against Pope Francis four years ago when he was Argentina’s top church leader and the country became the first in Latin America to legalize gay marriage.

After he became pope last year, Francis showed more openness to gays and lesbians, famously asking, “who am I to judge?” if a gay person seeks the Lord.

Fernandez won’t participate in the ceremony itself, which is taking place in the historic cathedral in provincial Cordoba 435 miles (700 kilometers) from the capital. Naval officer Claudia Fenochio will attend in her stead, the state news agency Telam reported.

But gays were celebrating the move anyway on Friday, saying it suggests a new opening for the global church now led by their Argentine pope.

Update hourly