When I lived in the southern US, I worked for several gay rights organizations. Coming from Europe, which in most instances, is much more open-minded about homosexuality than the United States, I was surprised how anti-gay and downright homophobic many Americans are.
Fast forward 15 years and things in the US haven’t changed yet, in Argentina today, the Argentinian Senate voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage. This from a country that many Americans believe is ‘backwards’ compared to the US. I hate to tell you America, it’s not. In fact, America is falling further and further behind a lot of the rest of the world when it comes to gay rights, which when it comes right down to it are nothing more than basic human rights.
With Argentina legalizing same-sex marriages today, it became the tenth country to legalize gay marriage. Same-sex marriage was first made legal in the Netherlands in 2001, quickly followed by Belgium, Spain and Canada. South Africa, Sweden, Norway and Portugal soon followed suit, and both Iceland and Argentina legalized gay marriage this week. Several other European countries will be considering same-sex marriage laws in the next year.
The United States however, due to so many right-wing religious types who are bound and determined to oppose it, is highly unlikely to legalize gay marriage country-wide any time soon. In fact, a law went into effect in 1996 – the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -, which prevented the American government from recognizing same-sex marriage. The law was immediately challenged but, ten years later, it’s still to be overturned.
As America continues on its path of homophobia, 29 states now have laws that ban the recognition of same-sex marriages. Another 18 states do not allow the recognition of any same-sex union, marriage or otherwise. So, even if 5 US states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire) and the District of Columbia currently do allow same-sex marriages, if the US federal government doesn’t and if any state a gay couple might move to doesn’t, then it’s not that valid, is it?
Now enter Barack Obama. During his campaign for presidency, Obama promised he would strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as well as stop the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” practice in the US military. Almost two years later, Obama is no closer to changing any of this than he ever was and with the US economy now in such a mess and a bigger priority, he’s not likely to either.
What I find fascinating is countries as equally religious as the US (Portugal, Argentina and Spain) have now legalized same-sex marriages. The US, however, still stuck in the puritanism of most of its history just can’t seem to get past Christianity being involved in much of its government. Separation of church and state is supposed to be a given in the US – come on, don’t make me laugh. There’s no such thing.
Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, was always considered to be among the most gay-friendly and open-minded cities in Latin America and, today, the Argentinian Senate and the whole country of Argentina has proved how open-minded they really are. The United States, on the other hand, sits with its mind becoming more and more closed, shutting out a big percentage of its citizens from an act that simply gives them the same legal rights as everyone else. Shame on them.
Status of same-sex marriages – Wikipedia
Argentine Senate backs bill legalizing gay marriage – BBC