Latin America Ends Year With Major Advances In Gay Rights

While much attention has been focused – deservedly so – on the distressing developments with Uganda’s “death-to-gays” law, news of a far more optimistic type for gays and lesbians has emerged from Central and South America.  In November, a Buenos Aires court approved the marriage of a gay couple.  Under the rules of law in Argentina, the mayor of Buenos Aires has the right to appeal such a decision.  However, in a surprising decision, and one that he described as “difficult” due to tremendous pressure, Mayor Mauricio Macri chose not to appeal the ruling, making Buenos Aires the first Latin American city to recognize gay marriage.  In eloquent language, Mayor Macri stated:

“[I]t is important to accept and live with this new reality, which is the direction that the world goes, as to safeguard the right of every person to freely chose with whom to pair and be happy.”

Such strong sentiment makes the dribble that issues forth from the mouths of many right-wingers in this country seem downright arcane, if not idiotic, doesn’t it?

Then, today, Mexico City‘s legislative assembly voted overwhelmingly to approve gay marriage.  Unlike the U.S., where legal issues involving marriage are governed primarily at the state level, Mexican law allows for significant governance of marriage at the local level, including legislative and policy-making functions.  As a result, Mexico City’s officials are empowered to change the definition of marriage for the citizens of Mexico City — which is precisely what they did today by a vote of 39-20.  Rather than continuing the narrow definition that marriage is a union between a man and woman, a definition similar to the narrow definition upheld by California voters supporting Prop. 8 and similar to the dictates of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Mexico City’s new definition is:  marriage is “the free uniting of two people.”

Although perhaps not as eloquent as the words of Buenos Aires Mayor Macri, the elegance of Mexico City’s new definition of marriage is its utter simplicity.  In my opinion, Mexico City’s legislation is as remarkably inclusive and expansive of civil rights as California’s Prop. 8 is miserably exclusive, narrow-minded, and paranoid.

Mexico City’s mayor Marcelo Ebrard is expected to sign the legislation into law.

You can read more about the developments in Buenos Aires here and Mexico City here.

Update:  Argentine Couple Becomes First To Wed In Region

Following closely on the heels of recent developments in Argentina that expanded the right of gay couples to marry, the first gay couple has wed.

Alejandro Freyre, 39, and Jose Maria Di Bello, 41, tied the knot in a civil ceremony in the southern province of Tierra del Fuego.

As previously reported, in November of this year, a judge in Buenos Aires approved the marriage of the couple, and the mayor of the city decided not to appeal the decision.  Another judge, however, blocked that decision.  However, the couple obtained special permission from the provincial governor to wed.

This story is being widely reported throughout the world.  Here is a link to the source article I used from the BBC, which also contains links to additional stories.

Marriage Equality In Latin America

In 2007, Uruguay became the first country to approve civil unions nationwide, and in September 2009, it also became the first Latin American country to permit same-sex adoption. Other Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador are debating same sex civil unions or marriage issues in the courts and legislatures.  Here is a link to an informative article on the subject, here.

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