It's been a long night waiting for confirmation, but Argentina has just become the latest country, and the fourth strongly Catholic country, to approve family equality, even in the face of vigorous, highly visible, opposition by the Catholic Church. (Note that I do not describe this as "gay marriage". The legislation which has been approved includes much more than just provision for same -sex marriage.)
What is particularly pleasing to me was that while the political argument in favour was based on human rights grounds, many of the supportive politicians made clear that their support was because of their Catholic faith, which emphasized the importance of respect for those human rights.
Even some priests declared publicly in favour of the law. It is surely significant here that Argentina is in South America, birthplace of liberation theology - and hence a strong influence in gay liberation theology, about which I will be writing for publication tomorrow. (The theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid, who took her thinking beyond gay liberation theology to queer theology and to "indecent" theology, was from Argentina. Her writing is deeply influenced by her Argentinian background, and its history of struggle against colonialism, patriarchal oppression, and injustice of all kinds.In their marathon debate, a number of senators in the 72-member upper house referred to their Catholic beliefs in presenting their reasons for opposing or supporting the bill.
Elsewhere in Latin America, gay marriage is recognised in Mexico City, and civil unions in Colombia and Uruguay. Argentina now becomes the first in the region to approve full equality on a national level. It will not be the last.
(For the record: the number of countries with full marriage equality has doubled in the past eighteen months. Last January, there were just five countries with legal recognition for same sex marriage. Since then, that with Norway and Sweden joined them last year, and three already - Portugal Iceland and now Argentina -in the past six months. Asia is now the only continent wit no recognition, but Nepal has promised it.)From Reuters:
Argentina Senate Passes Gay Marriage Bill
Argentina's Senate passed a gay marriage bill early on Thursday, clearing the way for the country to become the first in South America to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Following more than 14 hours of charged debate, during which thousands of Argentines protested outside the Congress, the upper house voted 33-27 for the proposal, with three abstentions."I believe this has advanced equal rights," Senator Eugenio Artaza told reporters after the debate in which many lawmakers in the upper house invoked their Roman Catholic beliefs to explain their stance.
Opinion polls show a majority of Argentines support gay marriage, but there is less backing for same-sex couples to adopt children.The Argentine president's backing for the bill, which also gives homosexual couples the right to adopt children, has pitted Fernandez against the influential Roman Catholic Church a year before a presidential election.Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, had raised particular concern about the adoption clause of the bill, saying it was important to ensure that children had as role models "both a father and a mother."