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Latin America leads Americas in marriage equality

Exchanging rings

Photo: GettyImages

It’s only been three weeks since President Obama voiced his personal support for same-sex marriage, making him the first sitting-president to do so, and unleashing a swelling of media coverage. And while this news has died down in the media, there are still plenty of developments, both in the United States and in Latin America, in the LGBT* equality movement.

  • In Illinois, Lambda Legal and ACLU have filed two separate lawsuits claiming the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage runs counter to the state’s constitution, a strategy that proved successful in Iowa and resulted in the legalization of same-sex marriage there. “It certainly helps that our President from the great state of Illinois has come forward and been a leader in recognizing freedom of same sex couples to marry,” says the Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project of the ACLU.
  • An upcoming issue of Astonishing X-Men will feature the same-sex marriage of one of its beloved characters.

And recently “video and audio has cropped up of several right-wing pastors in different states advocating physical violence toward gay people and generally disparaging the LGBT community.

By many counts, Latin America is more progressive than the United States on the issue of marriage equality. Major achievements include full marriage equality in Argentina, which has cemented its role as a leader in the broader LGBT* movement. In Mexico City, same-sex couples are able to get married and adopt children. Although none of Mexico’s 31 states are required to perform same-sex marriages, they are required to fully recognize them under the law. Civil unions for same-sex couples are legal in Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and Ecuador.

Yet, throughout Latin America LGBT* communities continue a fight against governments that are in many cases more repressive than the United States. Currently, Bolivia is considering legalizing same-sex unions, a move heavily opposed by the country’s bishops. Chile has passed an anti-discrimination law that includes discrimination against sexual orientation, following the killing of a gay man named Daniel Zamundio. This law comes no more than seven months after the country’s Constitutional Tribunal rejected the constitutionality of same-sex marriages in a 9-to-1 vote.

It is clear that the political discussion in one country in the Americas affects the discourse its neighbors are having. In this case, Argentina serves as the glowing example in the region, but the U.S. is still among the top contenders.

After all, same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal in eleven states and the District of Columbia; DADT has been repealed; the Defense of Marriage Act has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court in Boston and, oh yeah, there’s that thing I mentioned in the introduction.

by Yessenia Gutierrez, Guest Contributor

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. I don’t consider marriage a “progressive” topic as much as one of freedom. It has to do with taking the state out of the business of marriage, especially on the federal level. This is an intimate, solemn, personal oath to another human being. Any agreements can be handled in contract. There is no room for government except to address disputes, nothing more. Thats’ my op.

  2. Good article, but if only Argentina offers marriage to consenting adults of any gender that is hardly a sweeping endorsement of marriage equity throughout Latin America. Civil unions in the US are an option in most states, and I wager that we’ll see the option of same-sex marriage in more states over time and it can’t be recognized at the federal level.


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