Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Argentina: Tierra del Fuego court annulls first Latin American same-sex marriage

Late breaking news from Tierra Del Fuego this afternoon.

The judge of the city's Children and Family Court, Marcos Meillien, has determined that what was the first ever same-sex marriage in all of Latin America is "non-existent" under the constitution and has, in fact, annulled it.

According to today's Sur 54, the civil wedding between Alex Freyre and José Maria Di Bello was challenged by a local district attorney, Karina Echazú, on the grounds that the national constitution did not give gay couples the right to marry.

For years, Freyre and Di Bello (right) had fought an uphill battle to be able to marry until a Buenos Aires court gave them the go-ahead in November. Plans to marry on December 1st were placed on hold when local authorities stepped in and put a stay on the order (they had chosen December 1st as a symbolic date since they are both HIV positive and the date marks World AIDS Day).

Working behind the scenes, LGBT rights advocates sought a friendly government official with the power to perform a civil wedding and found her in the Governor of Tierra del Fuego, Fabiana Rios, who agreed to marry the men on December 28th, 2009.

As I wrote yesterday, there have been another three positive court rulings allowing gay couples to marry in Argentina since Freyre and Di Bello tied the knot. One of those, the ruling allowing Damian Bernath and Jorge Esteban Salazar Capon to marry, has also been annulled.

That leaves Martin Canevaro and Carlos Alvarez and Norman Castillo and Ramona Arevalo as the only two same-sex couples in Argentina with unrevoked marriage equality rulings.

LGBT advocates have been pressing the Argentinian legislature to act upon the rulings and pass a federal marriage equality law but it's unclear where these set backs leave those efforts.

Ultimately, it is expected that the Argentinian Supreme Court will take the issue later this year and perhaps rule in favor (Read: "Highest Court ready to back same-sex marriages, says justice, but there is one caveat").

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