By: Adley Rivera Hernández
On Friday October 17, 2014 a press conference about same-sex marriage, was held in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. The conference panelists were Gustavo Vásquez, a graduate student in psychology; Yolanda Arroyo, a novelist, short story writer, essayist and activist for LGBTT community; and Ricardo Ferrer, coordinator of educational activities in the Gay-Straight Alliance at UPRM.
The panelists presented their views on the legalization of same-sex marriage and even though everyone agreed with it, they had different views on some questions.
Panelists agreed that legalizing such marriages would be beneficial to the economy, which represents progress towards equality and freedom in society and does not affect the concept of family togetherness.
However, there was a tense moment when Ferrer referred to view the family unit as a concept related to religion and expressed that there is currently a debate underway in the Vatican in which allegedly members of the Church are tending to accept the gay couples and families.
Arroyo disagreed. She contended that the Vatican will never accept same-sex families because since forever, homosexuals have been rejected by this sector and even compared this acceptance with members of the Ku Klux Klan accepting blacks just because they are running out of members.
Panelists also expressed different views about the effect of sexual orientation in religious beliefs. For Ferrer, if homosexuals have a good faith-based, which has been taught that God loves them unconditionally, their faith should not be affected. Vasquez said, “No, it shouldn’t but it does”, and Arroyo did not answer the question because, before being openly lesbian, she considered herself an atheist but she mentioned that she has friends who have gone through this confusion to what she has advised them to give their backs to the church.
Moreover, panelists demanded respect from those who reject such a marriage, and agreed that there has been an increase in support for same-sex marriage due to the change in education.
This support has been felt over time in different US states since, according to Agencies EFE, there are currently 30 states in which same-sex couples can marry, or may do so soon. Also, according to the Associated Press, on October 25, the “US government announced that it will recognize same-sex married couples in another six states as a result of a recent decision of the Supreme Court, bringing to 32 the territories where gay marriages are, recognized by the federal authorities.”
Support is what thousands of homosexual couples and families have been expecting from the government, especially in Puerto Rico where same-sex marriage is currently not recognized, nor legal. As reported by El Nuevo Día last month, couples like panelist Arroyo and Zulma Oliveras, her girlfriend, are currently fighting for the rights of homosexuals to marry in P.R. because they do not receive the same benefits as heterosexual couples said the reporter Lopez.
However, according to Cobián, on October 21, a judge dismissed the lawsuit made by other four couples to be recognized as legal and legitimate in PR gay marriage.
El Nuevo Día reports that despite the rejection received by the government, gay family members and friends have shown their solidarity with the gay community. This is the case of an 80 year old man who was getting a tattoo engraved with the sign of equality, according to him to support human equality and grandson, who is gay. In the video he said that the pain you feel when tattooed does not compare to the pain felt by his grandson discrimination after coming out.
However, The Associated Press reported in June 2014 that although the Presbyterian Church in the US had allowed the ordination of clergy in a same-sex relationship since 2011, it was forbidden to officiate same-sex marriages.
Yet, in June 2014 “the highest legislative body of the Church in the United States recognized a Christian marriage between same sex, after voting by a large majority for inclusion in the constitution of his church, and add explanatory text declaring that marriage can be the union of two persons, not just a man and a woman. For Ferrer and Vázquez this is a breakthrough, but for Arroyo is only the result of the search of more parishioners of the Church.