Did Uruguay Just Beat the US on Gay Rights?
You know, I’m finding it hard to think of a better argument for gay adoption rights, and for gay rights as a whole, than the one I read spoken of in this article where the archbishop of Montevideo, Nicolas Cotugno, here arguing against Uruguay’s gay adoption law before it passed late Wednesday, said the following:
“It’s not about religion, philosophy or sociology. It’s something which is mainly about the respect of human nature itself.”
And even if those words were not meant favorably, how right he is. The argument over gay rights is about respecting human nature and our capacity to love. And Uruguay have just taken another step forward in proving that they do value their entire population and not just a narrow band of it – they’ve granted lesbian and gay people the right to adopt.
Allowing gay adoptions has put secular Uruguay on the leading edge of gay rights in Latin America. 17 out of 23 senators voted in favor of legalizing gay adoption, building on the advocacy that the Chamber of Representatives showed earlier in the year when they too approved a counterpart bill on a vote of 40-13.
President Tabaré Vazquez and his Broad Front coalition have supported the move from the outset. They already legalized gay civil unions in 2007 and ended the ban on lesbians and gays serving in the military earlier this year.
As this New York Times article points out, the rights of adoption only extend to single gay people and not couples (though they are no doubt aware that many of those applying for adoptions will be one half of a domestic partnership) because gay marriage in Uruguay still remains illegal.
There is no indication that this latter point will be changed any time soon. However, the Roman Catholic Church and its supporters are deeply unhappy.
Francisco Gallinal of the National Party of Uruguay said:
“The family is the bedrock of society and this measure weakens it.”
I’d argue the opposite. The lawmakers of Uruguay have only strengthened the family unit by creating the possibility of more families, more diversity, and, importantly, more people that are qualified to adopt children and give them a loving home, something which can only benefit those children and society as a whole.
This might also serve as a stark wake-up call for US lawmakers who still have in place “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” the military policy banning openly gay service personnel, and, in many states such as Florida and Arkansas, still hold firm to bans on gay adoption.
Why has Uruguay been able to take such a strong position on gay civil rights? Some attribute it to the fact that Uruguay has true separation of religion and state (although, with abortion still being illegal in Uruguay one might say this is debatable).
Should we then dare to ask: has America’s dividing line between religion and state (as per the Establishment Clause) been blurred? Have your say in the poll below.
At any length, a good day for gay rights in Latin America, and also for those children in Uruguay who are desperate to be adopted into a loving family.