Friday, March 15, 2013

Did Pope Francis back same-sex civil unions in Argentina?

If you have read any coverage of newly anointed Pope Francis this week and his views on LGBT issues you will no doubt be familiar with the following quotes (via GLAAD):
And yet, today the Associated Press reported the following:
According to the new pope's authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, [Jorge Mario] Bergoglio was politically wise enough to know the church couldn't win a straight-on fight against gay marriage, so he urged his bishops to lobby for gay civil unions instead. It wasn't until his proposal was shot down by the bishops' conference that he publicly declared what [Esteban] Paulon described as the "war of God" — and the church lost the issue altogether.
That was from the marriage equality fight in 2010 and it should be said that it was as a last stand against passage of the marriage equality law.

In an article published in Perfil on July 24 of 2010 an anonymous source claimed Bergoglio felt "used" in the run up to the marriage equality vote and hoped to eventually regain his progressive reputation by letting it be known he wasn't a homophobe.

The anonymous source also brings up Bergoglio's role in the passage of the 2002 same-sex civil union law that was approved by the Buenos Aires legislature.

An excerpt:
After the law was passed, the Jesuit once more sought refuge in the silence of prayer.  In the meantime, those who are near to him insist in presenting him as a progressive bishop, perhaps even from the "left", who had never used those terms when speaking about those issues.

"He doesn't have anything against gays nor transgender individuals and he never discriminated them during his duties as a pastor.  What prevails within him is christian charity," is the way a confident defends him.

And they add that Bergoglio felt trapped between two fires -- that of the government and that of his internal rival Héctor Aguer, the conservative archbishop of La Plata -- and he reacted as "a soldier of God."

Kirchner entered the game and she played to kill or be killed in the tradition of Saint Ignatius," say his closest friends.

In 2002 he has backed civil unions when they were passed by the Buenos Aires legislature and in April of that year he had proposed that the Church do the same on a national level.

What happened between April of 2002 and now, who is the real Bergoglio? It's a question that is often asked by the Government and within the church.
I have yet to find independent reports that Bergoglio did indeed back civil unions in Buenos Aires back in 2002.That law made Buenos Aires the first city in Latin America to adopt such laws.

UPDATE (3/18/13): Here is further indication Bergoglio would have backed civil unions for same-sex couples in exchange for scuttling the marriage equality law that Argentina adopted in July of 2010.

Just four months before the legislative vote, Bergoglio's spokesperson Federico Walls went on the record with Info News and said the following:

We do not seek to discriminate against unions between same-sex individuals. We don’t have a fanatic vision. What we are asking is that the laws be respected. We believe that we must propose more comprehensive civil union  bill than currently exists, but not marriage (H/t: Millenial).

My friend Mariano Lake writes to me from Argentina:
For Bergoglio, backing civil unions was a way to deny gays the right to marry and that's what the Argentine LGBT Federation fought for: The same rights with the same names. Bergoglio did not want us to be able to marry and a civil union was not a marriage.

No comments: