Elections are coming up in Argentina in less than weeks, and one senator supporting Cristina Kirchner’s run for president, Vilma Ibarra, is proposing today to change the Civil Code to enable gays and lesbians to marry. As I read the story in today’s paper, I was struck by two things. One is the thought that so often it is women who get right with the world first. The other is an awareness of the power of precedence. An argument Ibarra is making is that is was done successfully in Spain. Just as we look to England, if not as a model to follow, at least as an example of a country whose values we share, Argentina looks to Spain. It’s time, says Ibarra, to put right here what has been put right elsewhere.
The arguments are the same as in all the many countries where rights have been extended to same-sex couples. Marriage is a civil right, and when two people stand before the Civil Court and say “I do” there is no reason the church-state barrier should be broken, any more than it is with abortion or divorce. A straight couple’s rights are not infringed upon when gays are permitted to marry any more than a gay couple’s rights are infringed upon when straights marry.
Those who use the argument that same-sex marriage will lead to demands for the right to adopt need to examine their prejudices, Ibarra says. There is no reason whatsoever gays cannot raise children. They do all the time, with as much success as straights. It’s a non-issue.
What is different in Argentina is that the new law would challenge some of the hitherto unexamined limitations on women’s rights. For example, not only would there need to be language changes – “husband and wife” to “spouse,” for example – but the paragraph stating that a married woman “must not accept donations without the approval of her husband” would have to go. It is routinely disregarded anyway; now is the time to clean up the archaic text.
Ibarra is supported by some twenty organizations in the Federación Argentina de Lesbianas, Gays, Bisexuales y Trans, which has been working on this campaign since February. The organization’s president, María Rachid, and her partner, Claudia Castro will be first in line at the Buenos Aires Civil Registry to have their relationship recognized as a marriage.