Now that gays & lesbians can legally marry in Argentina, it’s time for the U.S. to step up
A year or so ago, an Argentine friend of mine called me, extremely distressed. He had just finished watching a documentary on the gay rights movement in the United States, and he couldn’t believe how much bigotry there is in my country against gays and lesbians. What irony, I thought to myself. Before I moved to Buenos Aires in 2006, I always had this stereotypical idea of what the attitude toward gays and lesbians would be in Latin America. My head was spinning with images of macho men and devout Catholics, threatening and disapproving, respectively.
But I moved here anyway, and braced myself for the worst. There was some threatening and some disapproving, but not on the level that I experienced it during my years living in the U.S.A. And four years later, Argentina has proven itself more highly evolved when it comes to gay and lesbian rights. Early this morning, the Argentine Senate passed a bill granting gays and lesbians the right marry — not the right to form legal civil unions, which gays and lesbians already had, but the exact same marriage rights as heterosexuals throughout the country. This is a first for any Latin American country. A historic moment indeed.
For me, it’s a moment of bittersweet triumph. I’m proud to live in a country where I’m free to marry whomever I want to, but at the same time, I’m ashamed. Ashamed because the country where I’m from — the one that, in some ways, I still consider home — is so far behind the curve. I’ve railed before about the trouble the movie I Love You Phillip Morris is having getting a firm release date in the U.S. because it’s about two men in love who also happen to have hot sex onscreen. (Ironically, The Kids Are All Right, starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a lesbian couple — a concept that always has been more palatable in the U.S., and titillating even, to many straight males — was released last week to excellent reviews.) Phillip Morris has come out (no pun intended) in a number of countries in Europe, but still not in the United States. I’m not surprised, but I’m disappointed.
All over the world, nations are slowly seeing the light, but a large enough portion of the U.S. remains in the Dark Ages when it comes to acceptance of gays and lesbians that the right for them to legally marry nationwide still seems so far off. Perhaps eyes will be opened by the example Argentina set this morning. I’m hoping for it, but I’m not counting on it.