By: Shannon Ralph
On Tuesday, Chile’s conservative president, Sebastian Pinera, proposed civil union legislation that would give unmarried partners many of the same rights now enjoyed only by married couples in the South American nation.
Pinera, who fulfilled a campaign promise with the civil union bill, insists the initiative doesn’t change the concept of marriage in Chile. However, in a speech at the presidential palace, he said that all couples “deserve respect, dignity and the support of the state.”
Chile is not the first Latin American country to recognize same-sex unions. Argentina went a step further last year, becoming the first country in Latin America to recognize marriages between couples of the same sex. Brazil’s supreme court ruled in May that same-sex couples deserve the same rights as heterosexuals. Ecuador, Uruguay, and Colombia also have some version of civil union laws.
Latin America?! I can understand countries in Europe legalizing same-sex marriage before we do, particularly the Scandinavian countries that are historically progressive. I can understand Canada making the move before we do. Canada has always seemed kind of like our slightly cooler little sister to the north. (Come on, who didn’t think Dudley Do-Right was the coolest dude ever?) But what sort of backwards, Puritanical country do we live in that we would allow Latin America —conservative, predominantly Catholic Latin America— to outpace us on issues of social progressiveness?
While I applaud this trend for the citizens of Latin American, it speaks to the sad state of affairs in my own country. Come on people, we can do better than this!