The President of Portugal, Anibal Cavaco Silva, has just ratified a bill that brings marriage equality to that nation: the eighth in the world, and the sixth in Europe, to take this increasingly common step. And several other countries, like France and the U.K., permit “marriage in all but name” for same-sex couples.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Minnesota vetoes a bill that would simply have allowed surviving members of same-sex couples to decide what to do with their deceased partners’ remains, and permitted wrongful death lawsuits. The reasons? The bill was unnecessary and an affront to traditional marriage. (I’ll have more to say on the wrongful death part of this in Thursday’s column over at 365gay.com.)
This desperate propping up of “traditional marriage” against anything that might send any kind of indirect message is depressing. Compare the refreshingly practical approach of Silva, who personally opposes same-sex unions but has more important fights to wage:
Vetoing the bill would only send it back to Parliament where lawmakers would overturn his decision, [Silva] said, adding that the country needed to focus on overcoming an economic crisis that has increased unemployment and deepened poverty.
“Given that fact, I feel I should not contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only serve to deepen the divisions between the Portuguese and divert the attention of politicians away from the grave problems affecting us,” Cavaco Silva said.
One day in the not-too-distant future, a leader of this country will make a similarly level-headed statement. Just don’t expect it to come from the current President.