By Leslie Robinson
Argentina suffered a distinct blow when its promising soccer team was bounced from the World Cup. What did the country do to pick up its spirits?
It passed gay marriage.
Argentina is the first nation in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. Gays and lesbians in Argentina will have all the legal rights and responsibilities that marriage affords straight couples.
The days leading up to the momentous decision were infused with pressure, with both sides pushing and pushing. About the only thing missing were vuvuzelas.
And for all I know, some Argentine soccer fans brought those horns home from South Africa and blew them in the streets of Buenos Aires, aggravating people on both sides of the marriage battle.
The issue of same-sex marriage pitted the Catholic Church against Argentine President Cristina Fernandez. Time.com reported that Buenos Aires archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio said, “This is no mere legislative bill, it is a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
Fernandez responded that Bergoglio’s statement was “really reminiscent of the times of the Inquisition.”
The hyperbole was sky-high enough to tickle St. Peter’s feet.
Polls indicated a solid majority of Argentines favored same-sex marriage, even though the country is overwhelmingly Catholic. With the president of the nation a strong supporter of the bill, and the lower chamber having approved it in May, all that remained was for Argentina’s Senate to get in the game.
In a march organized by the Catholic Church and evangelical groups, 60,000 people descended on Congress the evening before the vote. Same-sex marriage supporters held smaller, loud rallies. As the final debate took place inside Congress, opponents stood outside reciting the rosary in freezing temperatures, and supporters chanted equality slogans.
These people must’ve wondered if the senators had escaped out the back door—the vote didn’t take place until 4:05 a.m., after 15 hours of debate. The game lasted so long it went into penalty kicks.
“Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species,” asserted Senator Juan Perez Alsina, according to The Associated Press.
Senator Norma Morandini compared the discrimination closeted gays experience to the oppression Argentina’s past dictators imposed. “What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance,” Morandini said.
With that, every dictator rose from his grave and tried to give her a red card, but no one noticed.
At the end of the long, tense session, the Argentine Senate approved same-sex marriage 33-27, with three abstentions. Argentina became the 10th nation in the world to approve gay marriage.
On the same day the Catholic Church lost the game, the Vatican announced that the “attempted ordination” of women is now one of the most serious crimes under church law, on a par with clerical sexual abuse of children. Altogether, the Catholic Church is shooting on the wrong goal.
The first legal same-sex wedding is scheduled for Aug. 13. Ernesto Rodriguez Larrese, 60, will wed Alejandro Vanelli, 61. The men have lived together for 34 years, so presumably they require no pre-wedding counseling.
Mexico City, which legalized gay marriage last year, made an offer the guys might not be able to refuse. The city’s tourism minister promised a free honeymoon to the first gay couple wed in Argentina. The minister seeks to recognize tolerance and to promote gay tourism, a healthy, eminently practical combo.
By the way, the two World Cup finalists, Spain and Holland, both legalized gay marriage. All the soccer-playing nations in the world, and it was those two that made it. I’m just sayin’ . . .
—Leslie Robinson thinks the U.S. better hurry up and legalize gay marriage if it is ever to do well in the World Cup. E-mail Leslie at email@example.com, and visit her blog at www.generalgayety.com.