An increasing number of lawmakers in
Latin America support recognition of gay unions, including marriage.
The trend kicked into gear two years
ago when Uruguay's leftist President Tabare Vazquez signed a bill
recognizing the relationships of gay and lesbian couples with civil
unions, a move that has placed the tiny country at odds with its more
But Vazquez is not alone is his support
for gay unions. Throughout the region, lawmakers are increasingly
taking up the cause.
Despite enormous pressure from social
conservatives and religious groups, including the Roman Catholic
church, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard signed the region's first
gay marriage law last December. Ebrard was among the officials on
hand when the city's first five gay and lesbian couples exchanged
vows in March.
The law only covers the 10 million
Mexicans living in the nation's capital and most populous city, but
the law does not impose a residency requirement. And unlike the
United States, no Mexican state has defined marriage as a
heterosexual union in its constitution, leaving the possibility that
more progressive states might recognize the marriages.
The legislation also abolished a
previous prohibition that banned gay couples from adopting children
under the city's previous civil unions law.
Lawmakers in Argentina will decide the
fate of a gay marriage bill on July 14. That's the day when senators
are expected to take up the measure already approved by the nation's
lower chamber, the Chamber of Deputies (la Camara de Diputados).
Opponents of the law – mostly
religious groups – are mobilizing to kill the bill. A nationwide
May 31 demonstration organized by Roman Catholic and evangelical
churches that oppose gay marriage is being followed by a second rally
next Saturday. Organizers say they oppose gay marriage because the
family consists of a mom and a dad. Fliers promoting the
demonstration include the caption, “A message from the children: We
want a mom and dad,” and claim millions of members. The Facebook
page promoting the anti-gay marriage campaign and next week's event,
Love Mom & Dad (Queremos Papa Y Mama), has
attracted nearly four thousand members.
Despite the campaign, Argentine
President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner has said she would not
block the measure from becoming law, if approved by senators.
A bill introduced last week in the
Chilean Senate would recognize gay couples with civil unions.
The legislation faces steep opposition
from lawmakers who'd rather not vote on controversial issues during
an election year, but recently elected President Sebastian Pinera has
backed the measure.
“It will neither undermine nor weaken
the institution of marriage, nor will it create a covert type of gay
marriage,” he said. “Rather, it will resolve real problems that
people are experiencing.”
Pinera is considered a right-wing
politician, but he has embraced gay rights. A Pinera campaign
advertisement included two gay men.
Meanwhile, back in Argentina, five gay
and lesbian couples have already persuaded judges to allow them to
marry and 60 more challenges are pending. Leaving little doubt that
the issue will continue to make headlines in the region even if
Argentine senators reject the gay marriage bill.