SANTIAGO - The month of April brought some very good news for supporters of gay marriage, and one piece of bad news.
The best news in Latin America came from Uruguay, where the Chamber of Deputies gave same-sex couples the right to marry by the overwhelming majority of 71 to 21, topped off by a momentous speech by Uruguayan President Jose Mujica. The law has since been approved by the Senate, and should enter into force any minute.
Two days after the success in Uruguay, the same thing happened in New Zealand, where the parliament approved gay marriage legislation 77 to 44, making it it the first country in Asia to approve marital equality.
The bad news came from Colombia, where a law legalizing gay marriage was voted down in the senate 51 to 15 after being approved in committee in December. Supporters have one last recourse: appealing to the Constitutional Court.
The latest word on gay marriage has come from the famously civilized country of France, where the legalization of gay marriage was supposed to be just a formality but ended up turning into a war. Since 58 percent of French citizens have said they are in favor of gay marriage, observers in France and elsewhere were surprised at the virulence of the debate. There were attacks on gay couples on the streets of Paris and other cities, and an arson attack at a gay bar in the northern city of Lille. Around 350,000 people marched in the streets of Paris against gay marriage just a few days before the National Assembly approved the law permitting same-sex couples to marry and adopt children by 329 to 229 votes.
With or without heated debates, the wave is bound to continue. There are only 14 countries worldwide where gay marriage is currently legal, but there are concrete plans in the works to legalize it in many more.
In Latin America, only two countries sanction gay marriage -- Argentina and Uruguay -- but change is brewing throughout the region. Brazil is one of several countries preparing to join the group of countries with the most extensive package of LGBT rights. In 2011, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals have the right to marry, and last year the Senate’s Commission on Human Rights approved a national civil marriage law that should be passed by the full Senate and Congress this year. At the same time, judges in seven Brazilian states have given a green light to civil marriages for same-sex couples.
In Mexico, the Constitutional Court has approved the constitutionality of gay marriage on a national level, and same-sex couples can already marry in Mexico City and three Mexican states.
In Chile, the Senate is about to approve a civil union law, which would give gay partners the same financial rights as a married couple, though it would fall short of marriage equality. Supporters of gay marriage in Chile will have to wait for the next legislative session to make their case.
There might not be another issue that is so marked by generational divide. In the United States, where gay marriage is legal in Washington DC and eight states, until recently the majority of the population was against gay marriage. But as younger generations are included in surveys, the results change, and now a majority is in favor of marriage equality.
To be in favor of gay marriage is to be on the right side of history. But we support gay marriage for reasons more important than statistical convenience.
América Economía supports gay marriage because the magazine supports freedom. We are in favor of the freedom to start a business, the freedom to make economic choices, and in favor of all individual and public freedoms if they do not harm society. And we do not see how a marriage between two people will harm society.
We also believe in equal opportunity and equal rights for all. And we understand that equal rights can not truly exist in a society if some people are not treated the same way as others.