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.
- JCPenney has received tremendous media coverage lately, after running advertisements featuring same-sex couples.
- An upcoming issue of Astonishing X-Men will feature the same-sex marriage of one of its beloved characters.
- One Million Moms has launched a campaign against both Marvel and DC for portraying gay 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