Thursday, April 11, 2013

Uruguay Lawmakers Vote to Legalize Gay Marriage

Uruguayan lawmakers voted to legalize gay marriage, making the South American country the third in the Americas to do so. Supporters of the law, who had filled the public seats in the legislative building, erupted in celebration Wednesday when the results were announced. The bill received the backing of 71 of the 92 members of the Chamber of Deputies present. "We are living a historic moment," said Federico Grana, a leader of the Black Sheep Collective, a gay rights group that drafted the proposal. "In terms of the steps needed, we calculate that the first gay couples should be getting married 90 days after the promulgation of the law, or in the middle of July." The "marriage equality project," as it is called, was already approved by ample majorities in both legislative houses, but senators made some changes that required a final vote by the deputies. Among them: Gay and lesbian foreigners will now be allowed to come to Uruguay to marry, just as heterosexual couples can, said Michelle Suarez of the Black Sheep Collective. President Jose Mujica, whose governing Broad Front majority backed the law, is expected to put it into effect within 10 days. Read more here.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gay Couple Marry In South African Town’s First Same-Sex Union

Tshepo Modisane and Thoba Sithole
Photo: Sunday Tribune/Independent Online
DURBAN, South Africa—Two men married on Saturday in a rare South African gay wedding in KwaDukuza on Saturday, in what has been described as the town’s first same-sex union. Tshepo Modisane and Thoba Sithole, both 27, walked down the aisle in front of 200 guests at the Stanger Siva Sungam community hall, reported the Independent Online. Thoba, a Joburg-based IT specialist, is from Shakaville, KwaDukuza and Tshepo an audit manager at PwC. They have known each other for years and dated on and off, before stabilizing their relationship. Now that they are wedded, they will take on the double-barrelled surname of Sithole-Modisane. The couple appeared to enjoy the support from the community, family and friends. The couple was profiled in February by Mamba Online, and acknowledged there is a lack of openly gay role models in South Africa, especially among people of color. “People are still ashamed because the vast majority of the black community is not accepting of being a homosexual. They see it as largely being a ‘Western trend’ that is in fashion lately,” said Tshepo. “If our action of getting married and being bold and proud about it is emulated by more members of the LGBTI community who are black, then so be it. If people are inspired by our love and actions and want to do the same to follow in our footsteps then we don’t mind being labelled as ‘role models’ in the LGBTI community." South Africa outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in December 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalize same-sex marriage.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

One Result If DOMA is Struck Down: Immigration Benefits For Gay Couples

Lavi Soloway, an attorney who represents same-sex married couples on immigration issues, said he expects his clients will be able to apply for green cards for their spouses as soon as DOMA is struck down, no matter which state they reside in. That's because in immigration law, your marriage is recognized if it's valid in the place where it was performed. In estate tax, the specific case Kaplan and Alito talked about, a marriage is considered valid only if it's recognized in the state you are residing in when your spouse dies. If DOMA is struck down, then, it will probably lead to a case by case analysis of the 1,138 federal statutes that use marriage as a factor to see which benefits gay couples who move away from states that grant same-sex marriages will qualify for. In some of those statutes—such as estate tax exemptions—the place of residence will be the deciding factor, while in others, such as the ability to apply for a green card for your spouse, it will only matter where your marriage license was issued. In cases where it's not clearly spelled out, it will most likely be up to the federal agency to decide whether the marriage is valid or not. Read the full article here.