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Do Cry For Them, Argentina – Latin America’s First Gay Marriage Blocked at 11th Hour

Do Cry For Them, Argentina – Latin America’s First Gay Marriage Blocked at 11th Hour

An Argentinian gay couple were to make history today, December 1, by becoming the first Latin American same-sex couple to marry. However, late on Monday, National Judge Marta Gomez Alsina blocked the civil marriage so that the court decision allowing the same-sex union to proceed could be further examined.

Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre, two HIV positive men, wanted to get married on World Aids Day as a life affirming statement of their love for one another. They’d fought a tough legal battle for that right, having gone to a Buenos Aires court in April to overturn aspects of Argentina’s civil code that banned their marriage.

On Nov. 20 Judge Gabriela Seijas ruled that the ban violated Argentina’s constitution. The city’s authorities said that they would not appeal the decision, clearing the way for other gay couples to apply for marriage licenses if they so wished, although the case itself sets no precedent in Argentinian law outside of the capital.

In her ruling, which for the purposes of this case struck down two elements of Argentina’s civil code, Seijas said:

“The law should treat each person with equal respect in relation to each person’s singularities without the need to understand or regulate them,”
adding that limiting marriage to a man and a woman contradicted the right to equal treatment under the law.

Argentina’s constitution places express importance on the idea of freedom for its citizens, as well as the right to have that freedom unhampered by government restrictions as far as is permissible in respecting the freedom of others.

In 2002, Buenos Aires became the first place in Argentina to allow civil partnerships for lesbian and gay relationships, but, as in the U.S., civil partnerships do not grant those couples all the rights that are conferred by marriage.

So what will the couple do now that it looks like their marriage is going to be stalled? Ever the activists, Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre plan on turning up to the marriage ceremony anyway, saying that, as far as they are concerned, Judge Alsina’s injunction can not halt their plans. If they are barred from getting their marriage license, they plan to lead a protest against the decision and will pursue legal action if need be.

Judge Alsina wanted to make it clear why she had called for the injunction however, writing that, “The decision I have adopted should not be interpreted as … discrimination against the rights of homosexuals.” Rather, it is to afford the court an opportunity to examine whether the judge who granted Freyre and Di Bello the right to marry actually had the authority to do so.

But could this injunction inadvertently help gay marriage to prevail throughout Argentina? It should be noted that, recently, Argentinian legislators have tabled a bill that would allow for same-sex marriage to be legalized throughout the nation by striking down opposing provisions in Argentina’s civil code.

The bill enjoys support from the majority party, but the decision has proved unpopular with the Roman Catholic Church, and has faced staunch opposition from many religious and conservative quarters. In 2007, a similar bill was proposed, but it was not advanced.

Putting Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre’s marriage case before the court focuses the Argentinian Congress on the need for marriage equality to be enshrined in law in a way that would be hard to ignore. For a country that places such emphasis on the freedom of its citizens, this may be the fire legislators need to spur them on.

It also puts gay marriage on the road to being heard by Argentina’s high courts as the Supreme Court has decided to take up the case. This is a risky affair, true, but if the Court does rule in favor of the same-sex couple’s right to marry, supporting that, under Argentina’s constitution, the freedom to marry is an inalienable right for gay couples just the same as it is for their heterosexual counterparts, this case could have much wider implications than just allowing the marriage of Jose Di Bello and Alex Freyre to proceed.

Yet, amidst talk of gay marriage, civil marriage and civil rights, Jose Di Bello reminds us of the real heart of this issue when he talks about his reasons for wanting to get married, citing the security of inheritance rights and other legal safeguards as chief concerns, but also saying:

“I see old couples walking down the street together and I want that to be us. I want to be able to turn to him when I’m old and wrinkly and call him my husband.”

In any country, and in any language, love, freedom and equality seem to sound the same.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to srslyguys.

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29 comments

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7:50AM PST on Dec 27, 2009

why should being gay be immoral,it`s in the genes.are some of you implying the one universal god made mistakes in his creations,by saying it`s immoral or unnatural.

8:23AM PST on Dec 14, 2009

Thanks for raising awareness.

3:44PM PST on Dec 5, 2009

Here's a couple of questions for the bible thumpers who say that marriage is only valid between a man and a woman,

1.) What year was marriage declared as valid between only a man and a woman?

2.) What year was homosexuality declared wrong.

11:32PM PST on Dec 4, 2009

Historically, you have been able to marry a child, a baby, a dead person, an image or picture or idea, a child not yet born, an animal, for example a snake.
You have been limited to marrying only one, to two, to four, to as many as you can support, to an unlimited number. Among a tribe in Nepal, you can be "wife" to a group of brothers.
You [of either sex] can marry a man taking a man's role; a man taking a woman's role; a woman taking a man's role; a woman taking a woman's role; to a person of either sex not taking any particular gender role whatsoever.

Some marriages are elaborate, or simple, ceremonies, inside or outside of a religious, or a civil, or a family, institution; some marriages are as plain and unadorned as merely moving in with a person, or just telling someone you're married to that person.
You can be married for one night, for life, beyond this life, or until you get tired of it.
ALL of these forms of marriage either are, or have been, PERFECTLY VALID in a time or place SOMEwhere.

Therefore, those who apply the "Historical" argument, ARE NOT ON THE SOLID GROUND THEY THINK THEY ARE ON. Not at ALL. They just KNOW NOTHING OF EITHER HISTORY, OR "TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE" in all its glorious multiple forms!

11:09PM PST on Dec 4, 2009

Actually, even in Canada, it is NOT TRUE that marriage historically was "reserved for heterosexual couples".
Just to cite a FEW examples:
Going among Native Americans, early explorers and missionaries were SHOCKED OUT OF THEIR MINDS to find that there were actually SAME-SEX MARRIAGES AMONG SOME PLAINS INDIAN TRIBES. [I don't actually know if that prevailed up in Canada; but I assume it DID; because the word the early Europeans used for "male wife", is a FRENCH word. It is "berdache"; which is a word the French took from North Africa, meaning originally "male prostitute". The French and other European explorers and anthropologists, simply were confounded by the idea, so foreign and strange, of a "male wife". Some FEMALES married females, also.]
The same happened in sub-Saharan AFRICA; where some female chiefs had several "wives". Children were adopted and raised like other children in families.
Among the EARLY CHRISTIANS, there were "COMMITMENT CEREMONIES" IN CHURCH following a set form, between MEN! Several of the SAINTS were such "men committed to men".
The term, "A BOSTON MARRIAGE", if you look it up, meant, in Early America, two women, "Spinsters" in the term of those days, LIVING TOGETHER AND COMMITTED TO EACH OTHER. Common in New England, enough to have a well-understood word for it!

So, in MANY if not in all cultures, THERE HAVE BEEN SAME-SEX MARRIAGES alongside hetero-sex marriages; with no special social problems resulting!

10:02AM PST on Dec 3, 2009

"Historically, by definition, marriage has always been reserved for heterosexual couples."

Only when people made the bible law.

7:44AM PST on Dec 3, 2009

Reagan,

As you are doubtlessly aware, we have "common law" marriages in Canada that can apply to both opposite sex and same sex couples. Common law marriages do *not* get the same protections and benefits. Additionally, equality involves validation, i.e. "your marriage is as valid as my marriage, regardless of orientation" and you have to admit that is certainly not happening.

As for polygamy-- I think when you look at pair-bonding historically and culturally, it's not going to be much of an issue. Marriage exists in large part as a social institution and will therefore be a reflection of that society. (For example, in some places in the world polygamy is the norm.) My personal opinion is irrelevant, but I will say that just because something has always been one way doesn't mean it shouldn't be examined and questioned; in fact, that's perhaps even more reason why it should be. I cite women's rights as the example.

10:28PM PST on Dec 2, 2009

Historically, by definition, marriage has always been reserved for heterosexual couples. When Canada offered Civil Unions the gay rights movement said "not good enough." Same sex partnerships? "Not good enough." So no Zoi, there is more going on here then just the protection of and recognization of couples for protection, equality, and security under the law.

There is an agenda at play here to constantly go after the "definition" of marriage. This is especially silly when one considers how uniquely different the relationships are.

If it was was truly motivated by the legal need as is so often stated then the issue would have been resolved a decade ago. You are obviously an intelligent person Zoi and I respect your opinion and position. but really, take a deeper look at the actions by some and the political posturing and you will see there is more at work here.

Also, as I have said before. If you respect the entire concept of true equality in the marriage arena where do you stand on polygamy? Here in Canada, we are now seeing the first challenges coming forward in our courts by polygamists. The arguments they are using are based on the precedents set in motion by the LGBT movement.

So how about it Zoi? 2,3,4 men one woman? Vice versa? The problem with redefining where the societal line in the sand goes is the size of the society!

7:25PM PST on Dec 2, 2009

Jerry,

I'm not clear what you're saying, but it seems to me you are positing that marriage is only really marriage when there is procreation. Beyond that I can't really makes sense of your post.

7:06PM PST on Dec 2, 2009

Aw Zoe that is not what I wrote, the purpose has nothing to do with a man & woman who cannot have a child, nor did I inclused 2 males adopting. I stated when one of the males concieve. To consumate a marriage is a male & female having intercourse so my logic is when 2 same sex people can perform that type of intercourse then I'll rethink my position. To adopt is not conception. I'm sure there are some that make excellant parents. I don't have to accept or condone same sex marriage. I don;t believe that all homosexuals are bad, evil or would harm a child. It is not the purpose of pro=creation.

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