Argentina legalizes same-sex marriage:
Argentina legalized same-sex marriage Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to grant gays and lesbians all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexual couples.
Glenn Greenwald observes:
Argentinian politicians acted in the face of “polls showing that nearly 70 percent of Argentines support giving gay people the same marital rights as heterosexuals.” That’s what is most striking here: this is not happening in some small Northern European country renown for its ahead-of-the-curve social progressivism (though gay marriage or civil unions are now the norm in Western Europe). Just as is true for Brazil, which I’ve written about beforewith regard to my personal situation, Argentina is a country with a fairly recent history of dictatorships, an overwhelmingly Catholic population (at least in name), and pervasive social conservatism, with extreme restrictions on abortion rights similar to those found on much of the continent. The Catholic Church in Argentina vehemently opposed the enactment of this law. But no matter. Ending discrimination against same-sex couples is understood as a matter of basic equality, not social progressivism, and it thus commands widespread support.
Take this in contrast with the campaign of bigotry undertaken by US conservatives. Just one of many examples:
Two Republican congressmen are urging other countries — including, potentially, some where homosexuality is a crime punishable by death — to vote against an American-led effort in the U.N. to recognize a respected international gay rights group.
[ . . . ]
Among the countries voting against the application: Egypt, Angola, Burundi, China, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia and Sudan. In all those countries but Russia and China, LGBT people can be jailed, fined, whipped or killed if they are caught by authorities.
That’s some fine company, no? While other countries are moving forward in recognizing the basic equality of every citizen, our conservatives are busy trying to stop LGBT-oriented groups from even having a voice. And, as Greenwald quite rightly goes on to note, American Democrats aren’t exactly taking up the fight:
Despite the election of a President who campaigned on a pledge to overturn [the Defense of Marriage Act], and overwhelming Democratic control of Congress, repeal of that law isn’t even on the table. The absolute most that is possible is a repeal of the unfathomably regressive ban on gays in the military, and the Obama-ordered granting of more spousal employment benefits to gay federal employees. Virtually no national politician in the U.S. is even willing to advocate same-sex marriage, and those who advocate granting equal rights as part of “civil unions” refuse to take any real steps to bring that about. Amazingly, it was only this year that the U.S. ended the repellent ban on HIV+ individuals from even entering the country, one of only 12 countries (a list largely comprised of some of the worst human rights abusers) to have continued it that long.
Argentina’s actions make me glad for Argentina, and the slow – but certain – direction that the world is moving in. But it also reminds me that the US has such a long way to go.