Saturday, September 23, 2006

Update: Green light for civil union legislation debate in Puerto Rico

Over at Puerto Rico Para Tod@s there's the good news that a legislative commission set up to study changes to the Puerto Rican Civil Code - which dates back to 1930 - has finally given the green light for the Senate to debate language that would regulate partnerships other than those sanctioned by a Catholic Church (at the moment Puerto Rico does not even recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships for heterosexual couples).

Just on September 12th, El Vocero had reported that efforts to grant rights to unmarried couples were pretty much dead after Senator Jorge de Castro Font, the President of all senatorial commissions, declared that he would not allow debate on the issue as long as rights for same-sex couples were in play ("Never!" were his exact words to the paper).

Well, it might still be "never" but "never" just got to "sooner" today. Today's El Vocero reports that, despite de Castro Font's objections, the legislative committee was able to secure enough votes to endorse a Senate debate on the issue.

"As a legislator, I understand that I cannot run away from my responsibility of discussing and making decisions on situations that arise in the daily life of Puerto Ricans, and if civil unions is what we will have to discuss, we will discuss it," said Senator Carmelo Rios in a press release as one of two deciding votes (the other one being Senate President Kenneth McClintock who introduced the language in the first place).

Senator Rios' statement echoed a letter we sent to the Senators this week in which close to 35 Latino LGBT organizations throughout the United States and Latin America demanded an open debate after the outrageous indications that de Castro Font planned to block any Senate dialogue on the issue (and years of advocacy by LGBT leaders and organizations in the island as well as their allies). There is still the full legislative vote.

And there is also the fact that there is also an sexual orientation anti-discriminationn bill that has yet to be addressed.

Still, today was a good day and hopefully it foreshadows that sooner than later, the full Puerto Rican legislative body will endorse equality for all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is great news! congratulations to all involved, especial Pedro Julio Serrano. Whatever the outcome, this is a great step for all Puerto Ricans wherever they may live and indeed all of us.