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Argentina and the Inexorable Logic of Marriage Equality

July 15th, 2010 No comments

Marriage equality is about to become  law in Argentina, a solidly Catholic (70%-90% of the population) country that also has preferences for Catholicism built into national law. Argentina thus becomes the first Latin American country to fully recognize the basic dignity of same-sex couples. Buenos Aires, here I come! (Well, probably not.)

With each nation, state, or city (such as Mexico City) that recognizes full marriage equality, we chip away at the reductive argument that “marriage always means the union of a man and a woman.” And the debates that lead up to such enactments continue to provide reminders that the opponents have no arguments. Consider these statements in opposition to the proposed law:

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said “everyone loses” with gay marriage, and “children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother.”

Everyone loses? Surely not same-sex couples and their kids. And same-sex couples are already raising and educating children. Marriage rights just provide them with a better environment in which to do so.

“Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species,” insisted Sen. Juan Perez Alsina, who is usually a loyal supporter of the president but gave a passionate speech against gay marriage.

Passionate but misguided. That marriage between a man and a woman  is “essential for the perpetuation of the species” is a defensible, though contestable proposition. What’s essential is something called “sex”; perhaps marriage does civilize people and pass something vital along to the next generation, but even to the extent that’s true, none of that is affected by allowing same-sex couples to marry.

With every nation, state, and city that recognizes the basic equality of its citizens by legislating same-sex marriages, bald assertions about what marriage “must” mean becomes harder and harder to speak with a straight(!) face.

Meanwhile, we can’t even get Congress to consider repealing DOMA.