New attempt to legalize gay marriage in Chile

Chilean flag

While civil unions in Uruguay and marriage in Argentina were approved by legislatures — and civil unions in Ecuador were approved by voters under a new constitution — the Chilean Supreme Court may approve same-sex marriage in that country.

According to the Santiago newspaper El Mercurio, three couples have filed a lawsuit, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

An attorney for the couples, Jaime Silva, argues that two provisions of the Marriage Act are unconstitutional. The first states that marriage is a solemn contract in which a man and woman come together. The second recognizes that a marriage concluded abroad will be recognized in Chile provided it is between a man and a woman.

Those provisions, Silva argues, violate Article 1 and other provisions in the constitution. Article 1 begins, “Men are born free and equal, in dignity and rights.”

Last summer we reported several South American countries were considering recognizing same-sex relationships.

In Chile, a civil union bill got bogged down in the legislature. Meanwhile, no movement has been reported on the issue in Bolivia, where President Evo Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera live together in the presidential palace.

P.S.: That is a Chilean flag. The blue stripe extends to the bottom on the Texas flag.

—  David Taffet

Will marriage equality spread in Latin America?

Palacio legislativo, Montevideo, Uruguay

Since Argentina legalized same-sex marriage, other countries in the region have taken notice, and some are beginning to take action. But the process is not without setbacks.

In Costa Rica, one of Latin America’s oldest and most stable democracies, a referendum on civil unions was scheduled for the December ballot. According to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, the Costa Rican Supreme Court has suspended the process.

One of the issues with the referendum is that putting civil and human rights up for a vote may be unconstitutional. The referendum had been called by El Observatorio por la Vida y la Familia, a group related to the Catholic church and Evangelical groups. By removing the referendum from the ballot, the Costa Rican Supreme Court may be moving LGBT rights forward.

Since the Argentine marriage law was signed, the Chilean government declared that same-sex marriages performed in Argentina are not valid in Chile. The Santiago newspaper reports that the country’s 2004 civil marriage law recognizes marriages performed abroad, but only if they are between a man and a woman:

“A marriage celebrated in a foreign country in accordance with the laws of that country, Chile will produce the same effect as if it is concluded in Chilean territory, provided question of the union between a man and a woman. “

In Chile, where a civil union bill is being considered, the president said civil unions wouldn’t be the equivalent of marriage, but many rights would be granted.

In Bolivia, Vice President Álvaro García Linera said legalizing same-sex marriage is not a priority for the government, according to the Bolivian newspaper La Jornada. Linera is single and shares the official residence with Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca and President Evo Morales, who are also single.

But in neighboring Uruguay the situation is different. Civil unions were approved in 2007 and became law in 2008. Since the Argentine law, Uruguay is considering upgrading to full marriage.

Paraguay has also begun discussing same-sex marriage since the law passed in Argentina. Vice President Federico Franco came out against the proposal. He gave as reasons that he is Catholic and that it’s inappropriate to legislate for a small group, according to Ultima Hora.

Civil unions were approved in the new Ecuadorian constitution in 2009. At the same time the country banned same-sex marriage.

Translation assistance by Miguel Flores.

—  David Taffet