Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I do, I'm in (hopefully we'll worry about the big elephant later)

We’ve all heard of the wonderful gayness of San Francisco and the Castro District, the heated battles (in the vein of two steps forward, one step back) in different U.S. states such as Massachusetts, Vermont, Hawaii, etc. Some people may even know that Mexico City became the first jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriages in Latin America. What many people do not seem to know, to my surprise, is that Buenos Aires is a gay Mecca. And if we thought that was awesome, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has a plan in the works for us: her government has introduced a bill to be voted on today by the Senate. It’s no less than a bill to extend all marital rights to homosexual couples. Yes, that includes ceremony, inheritance and adoption rights, along with everything else. No exceptions. No ifs or buts. Just pure marriage equality.

Not to our surprise, the Catholic Church is vehemently opposed and has been organizing protests all over the country. The opposition party has denounced this as a totally self-serving political move designed by the Kirchners to remain in power once the 2011 elections come and go. Truth is, however, that the Kirchners are taking a risk: this bill is not city-wide, but country-wide. Support for gay rights may be strong in Buenos Aires, but not necessarily in the rest of the country. I guess we may wonder if the Kirchners’ semi-monarchy is so in trouble that they are taking desperate measures to salvage their positions. But we must remember that Colombia and Uruguay already recognize civil unions nationwide. And that Argentina also began to recognize civil unions nationwide on 13 December 2002.

Marriage is a tricky subject. Particularly as it has become the centerpiece of the gay movement. It’s an exclusionary institution by design that continues to legally reinforce religious and capitalist values for all. Couldn’t we fight for the abolition of marriage, instead of fighting for the inclusion into something that we know for a fact is still leaving other people out and is still privileging some relationships over others? Is all this even imaginable?

Nonetheless, as we have taken the turns we have taken. As we have defined the discourse we have defined. As we have held the banners we have held. As we have selected the pressure and leverage we have selected. As we have chosen how we want the rights we have chosen. (And as my wish seems to be nearly impossible at the moment.) Count me in.