Argentine Same-Sex Marriage Debate Returns

Published: December 18, 2009

Argentine Same-Sex Marriage Debate Returns

In 2002, Argentina was at the forefront of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights debate when it became the first country in the region to allow same-sex civil unions. After this landmark decision, other countries such as Mexico, Ecuador, Uruguay, and even Spain followed suit. On November 13th, 2009, Judge Gabriela Seijas once again put Buenos Aires ahead of its neighbors by ruling that the Argentine government must recognize the marriage of José María Di Bello and Alex Freyre, a same-sex couple. This decision makes Argentina the first Latin American country to attempt to institutionalize same-sex marriage. Despite the temporary block of Di Bello and Freyre’s wedding, ordered by a national judge on December 1st, Argentines will soon be engaged in a battle over the deadlocked debate when the country’s Congress and Supreme Court take up the issue in the coming months. With regard to the rest of the region, the pending question is whether or not other countries will once again follow in Argentina’s footsteps regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage.

As leftist governments continue to be elected throughout the region, the LGBT movement is approaching a crossroad: will these governments honor their stated values of equality and protect the gay community? Or, will a deeply-rooted, conservative Catholicism continue to prevent equal status for all members of society? As these progressive governments consolidate their bases on the basis of promises to the poor and disenfranchised, they must extend some of the same promises to the LGBT community. On this issue Argentina is unique in its regional context because it has now twice been the first to initiate the granting of equal status for its LGBT citizens. So far, several Latin American governments, like Argentina, are also moving to fulfill some of their promises and apposite principles by extending some rights through the institutionalization of same-sex civil unions, much to the chagrin of conservatives, religious leaders and others. In the meantime, the Argentine LGBT community will continue to commemorate the country’s willingness to be the first to tackle this contentious issue.

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