Having been denied a marriage license in Buenos Aires this past April, Argentinian couple Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre sued the city on the grounds that the denial was violating their constitutional rights. Although civil unions are available in some cities, including Buenos Aires, the union does not afford couples all of the rights granted to those who can marry--such as a shared health insurance policy and inheritance rights. In this week's ruling on the case, Judge Gabriela Seijas said, "The law should treat everyone with the same respect according to their singularities, without the need to understand or regulate them," and granted a marriage license to Di Bello and Freyre--the first state-sanctioned gay marriage in Latin America.
Seijas' ruling flies in the face of a heated debate currently happening in the Argentine Parliament over changing dozens of articles in the civil code and, ultimately, permit same-sex marriage. Although the judgment was initially at risk of being overturned, Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri has now said the city will not appeal: "We have to live with and accept this reality: the world is moving in this direction. We must safeguard the right of each person to freely choose with whom they want to form a couple and be happy." This opens the door for other same-sex couples to follow Di Bello's and Freyre's lead.
The Catholic Church, as you might imagine, is none too pleased with this week's events. "Same sex unions do not contribute to the common good, but seriously endanger it," said Bishop Baldemoro Martini. But this backlash hasn't dampened the spirits of the happy couple who joyously stated, "On December 1st we will become man and man!"
Both Freyre and Di Bello are HIV+ and work in NGOs that advocate HIV prevention and treatment (the Buenos Aires AIDS Foundation and the Argentine Red Cross, respectively). They have chosen December 1st as their wedding day as an overt tribute to World AIDS Day. The couple will tie the knot in the same registry office that turned them away earlier this year.