Wednesday, November 15, 2006

News from the "Happily Ever After" Front

I've fallen a little behind on the "good news on the marriage equality" front but evidently Mexico City took a big step forward in recognizing civil unions last week and now the South African Parliament has ruled in favor of marraige equalityby a 230-41 vote (according to the New York Times report):

Parliament on Tuesday voted resoundingly to legalize same-sex marriages in South Africa, making the nation the first in Africa and the fifth in the world to remove legal barriers to them, according to advocates.

The nation’s highest court ruled last December that South Africa’s marriage statute violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights. The court gave the government a year to alter the legal definition of marriage. That left the government with three choices: legalize same-sex marriages, let the court change the law by fiat or alter the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Melanie Judge, the program manager for OUT, a gay rights advocacy group, said Parliament had taken a courageous stance in the face of strong political pressure.

Although some countries recognize civil partnerships between same-sex couples, she said, only the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Canada now allow same-sex marriages.

Ms. Judge credits South Africa’s liberal Constitution with forcing change. “This has been a litmus test of our constitutional values,” she said. “It forced us to consider: What does equality really mean? What does it look like? Equality does not exist on a sliding scale.”

Bingo. Bravo. Alleluia!

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