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iVaya Argentina!

Once again, a bit of unexpected good news:

Senators in Argentina are set to vote Wednesday on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, but the bill is facing stiff opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and other groups.

Okay, that part isn’t the good news. If you had asked me at the time I first read this story if I thought it would go through, I would have said ‘not a chance’. Argentina, like the majority of Latin America, is prime country for the Catholic Church. The Church is extremely anti-gay (despite what some morons would have you believe), and they are deeply embedded in both the history and political landscape of the entire region. As we saw over proposition 8 in California, whenever religious groups are brought to bear in a population of believers, human rights often get trampled in the name of ‘religious freedom’ (which is, by the way, not at all what that phrase means).

This is particularly true when you have human rights crusaders like Bishop Antonio Marino leading the way:

“In the name of modernizing human rights, what this bill actually does is produce a major step backwards for humanity. If you want to talk about progress, the only progress this brings is towards decadence.”

Getting past the obvious sideswipe about the hypocrisy present in the Church taking a stance against decadence…

… the stance being struck by the church as an advocate of human rights and decency is completely fraudulent. This isn’t about preserving human rights, this is about hating gay people, and teaching that hate from the pulpit.

I have never been so happy to say this: I was WRONG

Argentina legalized same-sex marriage Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to declare that gays and lesbians have all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexual couples. After a marathon debate in Argentina’s senate, 33 lawmakers voted in favor, 27 against and three abstained in a vote that ended after 4 a.m. local time.

There are two parts of this that are the best part. First, the obvious fact that the damn thing passed. It sends a strong and unequivocal message to the rest of the world, and the rest of the Latin world, that human rights are universal. It states unequivocally that, at least on this issue, Argentinians won’t be pushed around by small-minded religious bigotry when making its decisions. The second is that much of the support for the move came from other civil rights groups, particularly women’s rights groups. I’ve maintained all along that human rights issues are the concern of all people, even those who (like myself) are not necessarily gay, or female. Dr. King put it much better than I could: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

I was clearly very wrong about the amount of control the Catholic Church has in Latin America, especially in light of another story I read, in which Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez  ordered a major review of the amount of influence the Vatican has in policy. This is not done out of the goodness of his heart, but as a backlash against the Church’s involvement in the political opposition. I’m not a fan of shutting down the opposition as a rule, but I am similarly not a fan of religious groups wielding political power.

I’m going to throw quotes from two different senators out here, and you can tell me which side you’d rather be on:

“What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance.”

or

“Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species.”

I’m happy with my decision.

P.S. – the human species is much older than centuries. Idiot.

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