Thursday, April 15, 2010

Argentina: Marriage equality whiplash as good developments follow bad

Movement on legislative marriage equality bill: Following yesterday's announcement that a Tierra del Fuego court had annulled the first ever same-sex marriage in Latin America, there were welcome news today about the increased chances of a marriage equality bill reaching the floor of the Argentinian congress.

Today, two legislative commissions - the General Legislation Commission and the Women, Children and Adolescence Commission - backed a full congressional debate of a bill that would amend Argentina's Civil Code to allow same-sex couples to marry.

La Nación reports today the recommendation has already drawn support from members representing a plurality of the political parties sitting in Congress (which doesn't mean all party representatives sitting in congress will vote in favor once it does come down for a floor vote).  It also noted that members of two conservative parties, including the Peronistas - Quick! Someone call Madonna - er - Evita! - were holding off and willing to endorse a "civil union-only" bill that did not define legal same-sex partnership recognition as "marriage".

Vilma Ibarra, the lead sponsor of the bill, said it would replace the words "man and a woman" in the Civil Code with "spouse". She also said that, considering the wide support that the bill received today, she expected a full debate in the next congressional session and passage of the bill.

How many same-sex couples remain married?: In the meantime, questions have been raised about the number of partners that remain legally married in light of yesterday's news - and there are good news on that front as well.  Here is what I have:

The courts have annulled the first two marriages - that of Alex Freyre & José Maria Di Bello which took place on December 28th (photo) and that of Damian Bernath & Jorge Esteban Salazar Capón (photo) which took place on February 23rd.

Florencia Kravetz, an attorney representing Bernath and Salazar Capón, said the set back was temporary and vowed that the marriage equality question would eventually be resolved by the courts in their clients' favor.

The third and fourth marriages are those of Carlos Alvarez & Martin Canavaro (above) which got the go-ahead on April 5th (photo) and Norma Castillo & Ramona Arevalo, the first lesbians to marry in the country, which got the go ahead on April 9th (photo).

Castillo and Arevalo, the lesbian couple, were able to marry almost immediately because the news didn't come out until the 12th when a judge had already officiated their wedding.  That judge was Elena Liberatori - the same judge who officiated the annulled marriage between Bernath and Salazar Capón - so it wouldn't be surprising if they also face a court repeal.

As for Alvarez and Canavaro (photo), they would have been able to marry last week as well if it wasn't for an appeal to the marriage decision.  That appeal was dropped this week and they were able to marry this morning (as shown the photo above).

So two same-sex couples remain married in Argentina tonight and there are signs that congress will take up a marriage equality measure in the near future.  Good signs, despite the bad news this week.

Photo credit: Clarin via AG Magazine.

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