Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Breaking News: Puerto Rican Archbishop gives OK to "domestic partnerships" for same sex couples

A lot has happened since March 13th, when Blabbeando and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s exclusively announced that Miss Universe 2001, Denise Quiñonez, would publicly support civil union rights for same-sex couples in the Caribbean island (in light of the revelation that a new draft of Puerto Rico's civil code included language allowing for such partnerships - another Blabbeando and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s exclusive back in January)

A chronology:

March 14th: The press release is sent out to media and sends shock-waves through the island. Puerto Rican media is already entranced by the release of a brand new video, the day before, by Denise's boyfriend René Pérez, also known among reggaetón lovers as Residente of the Grammy winning band Calle 13. The video for the song "El Tango del Pecado" ("The Tango of Sin") pokes fun at the horror that some in the island feel about the beauty queen's involvement with a reggaetón star and plays into those fears by staging his wedding to Denise (yet to take place in real life), proudly calling himself the devil, and making fun of the beauty queen's parents (who reportedly are mad at him for their cartoonish portrayal in the video).

Ms. Quiñonez, who must have known that her statements might have conflicted with the media assault by Calle 13 in the launch of their new video and upcoming album, was in Los Angeles at the time and not available for interviews until later. It is to both their merit that they thought the issue was important enough to draw attention from the album release.

She not only backs civil unions for same-sex couples but also marriage. In addition she also supports language in the same draft that would allow transgender people to change their names in their birth certificates (a fact that has received little attention in media).

March 21: It's not until a week later that Ms. Quiñonez is available for interviews from her home in Los Angeles, where she is trying to break into the acting field. In radio interviews hosts express disbelief that the words in her press release have come directly from her. One radio jockey says "It sounds as if [Puerto Rico Para Tod@s'] Pedro Julio Serrano was speaking through your mouth!"

Denise graciously calls Pedro Julio a close friend and somebody for whom she will support every time that it's required. But she also speaks passionately about the rights of gays and lesbians as well as transgender people and claims the words as her own. Believe me, that's a huge thing in Latin American culture.

March 23: In response to Denise's comments to press, Johanna Rosaly, a Puerto Rican actress who reveals that her son is gay to El Vocero, also comes out in support (world renown singer Chayanne was less forthcoming in an April 13 interview when he told Primera Hora that it was good that people were claiming their rights but stopped short of endorsing the measure while pop sensation Ricky Martin might have backed outed RBD singer Christian Chavez but he has yet to say anything about his home island's legislative proposal to extend partnership rights to same-sex couples.

April 11: Enter a kiss. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, for which Pedro Julio works, has an English translation of his speech from the original Spanish.

April 18: Which leads to today's breaking news: Just minutes ago El Nuevo Dia reported that the San Juan Archbishop, Roberto González Nieves (pictured above), will go before a legislative committee studying the approval of changes to the island's civil code and announce his support for "domestic unions" as long as the committee stays away from language granting "marriage" rights to same-sex couples.

All in all, an astounding victory which probably means that Puerto Rican same-sex couples will have access to civil union rights in the very near future. Just amazing!

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