Thursday, 15 July 2010

Argentina Makes Gay Marriage History

Put your Evita soundtrack on this morning, and head on down to the track "A New Argentina." There's a line in that song, "A new Argentina, the chains of the masses untied!" How apt, given that in the middle of the night, Argentina's Senate cast a historic vote breaking the chains of inequality that the country's gays and lesbians have faced when it comes to civil rights under the law. In a 33-27 vote, Argentina now becomes the first Latin American country to fully recognize marriage equality.

What a victory for gay rights advocates, who in recent days had to face a stepped up campaign of intolerance from the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church. Indeed, the Catholic Church helped organize massive rallies in Buenos Aires to oppose gay marriage, under the framework of children having the right to a mom and a dad. Ironic, one might say, that the Catholic Church in Argentina would center their argument against marriage equality around children's rights, given the lengthy history of Argentina's Catholic Church when it comes to (a) being engrossed in a child sex abuse scandal, and (b) the Catholic Church's acquiescence to, if not downright facilitation of, the seizure of children from tortured, disappeared and murdered women during Argentina's Dirty War. Children's rights: what a nebulous term for Argentina's Church.

But while the Argentine Catholic Church could use a history lesson this morning, the country as a whole is about to make history, becoming yet another country to take the bold step to recognize marriage equality. Sen. Norma Morandini, one of the 33 votes in favor of marriage equality, said that the Senate vote for gay marriage was a vote for humanity. She echoed the words of Argentina's President, Cristina Kirchner, in saying that gay marriage is a human rights issue, and one that countries should eagerly move to recognize.

"What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance," Sen. Morandini said. Nothing spells intolerance more than denying an entire bloc of citizens equal rights.

How big is Argentina's decision? Well, so big that it prompted Ricky Martin to tweet: "#Argentina votes yes on gay marriage! A great nation making history."

But even more so, Argentina's bold move toward marriage equality is another example of how when it comes to laws including LGBT populations, the United States is falling more and more behind the rest of the world. That's a fact not lost on Evan Wolfson from Freedom to Marry, the American organization working to achieve marriage equality here in the States.

"Today's historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic values, and how far the freedom to marry movement has come as twelve countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality," said Wolfson. "Key to Argentina's human rights achievement was strong leadership from legislators and the president. It is time we see more of our own elected officials standing up for the Constitution and all families here in the United States. America should lead, not lag, when it comes to treating everyone equally under the law."

So there you have it, America. Argentina has a message for you, and it's that bold leadership requires standing up to the anti-gay forces that try to throw LGBT people under the bus. That's right. It's time to stand up to the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the institutional Catholic Church, rather than living in fear of them. That's what fierce advocacy looks like.

Meanwhile, let's end this post with the words delivered by Argentina's Senate President after the historic vote. As the vote displayed on an electronic board for all to see, six words were uttered: "Gay marriage is law in Argentina."

Now those are six words to start your morning right.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Source By Michael Jones is a Editor. He has worked in the field of human rights communications for a decade, most recently for Harvard Law School.

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