Yesterday, the Argentine Senate voted to extend marriage to same sex partners, thus becoming the 10th nation on four different continents to do so. As a writer, I've been struggling with how to frame my response.
As a gay man living in Argentina who recently obtained permanent residency with my Argentine partner of eight and a half years, I want to jump up and down and celebrate. As an expatriate American, however, I feel a deep bitterness at the way in which my own country has polluted the "debate" with the basest of political strategies and religious bigotry.
I am simultaneously elated for my own well-being here in Argentina and disgusted that my best friend and his partner of over 20 years have a kind of "marriage-in-limbo" due to the extraordinarily baseless fear, ignorance, outright stupidity and cruelty of the majority of voters in California.
I'm thrilled that Argentina has shown such compassion and common sense in overcoming the right-wing, largely hysterical and non-sensical Catholic onslaught against gay marriage, while at the same time stunned that the United States, who continually vaunts its supremacy on human rights and condemns other nations for abuses, allows people's equal protections to be simply voted away based on nothing but prejudice.
I'm gratified that Argentine families overwhelmingly embrace their gay progeny and want the same rights, privileges and responsibilities extended to them that their straight children have. The politics of "family destruction" don't work here where people know that gay men and women are already sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and, yes, even mothers and fathers. They understand implicitly that such blather about "destroying the family" is idiocy writ large. They know that destruction of the family comes from the prejudice that tells a parent to demonize his own child or pressures a child to abandon his own family. The vast majority of Argentines understand that the same divide and conquer tactics of the "right" that seek to engender economic violence and xenophobia, may occasionally work to conservative's insidious advantage, but here in Argentina, most folks simply won't allow those tactics to infect the relationships within their own homes.
In the pusillanimous minds of most Americans, gay people somehow grow out of the cracks in urban pavements. In their pathetic view, we have no relationship to family whatsoever, even as we may be passing them the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.
Quiero decir gracias a toda la gente, todos los diputados y senadores quienes trabajaron tan fuertes en este proyecto. Siempre estaré agradecido de sentir bienvenido y protegido en Argentina y este último hecho me confirme más la decisión mudarme aquí.
To those Americans impeding progress on this and practically every other issue of our time: What do you win by denying people equal protection and what do you lose by granting it?