By: Daniel Pichardo
On Friday, October 17, three supporters of same-sex marriage took part in a press conference at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez’s (UPRM) Chardón building to discuss several topics regarding the social acceptance of same sex couples.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community members and supporters Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, Gustavo Vazquez and Ricardo Ferrer spoke about current challenges and achievements in their effort to gain legal recognition of same-sex marriage around the world.
A few minutes into the press conference, Arroyo Pizarro, who is also an advocate of the LGBT community, expressed via telephone that although there is an initiative to educate society about homosexuality and same-sex marriage, she focuses on defending the community to be seen as equals. Later on, she added that “seeing same-sex couples together in public is the most important accomplishment for them (LGBT community) and it is a sign of progress.”
Psychology student Gustavo Vazquez agreed with Arroyo and said that an important step in the process is to break stereotypes and that “sexuality is not all of who you are, just part of it.” Ricardo Ferrer, from the Gay-Straight Alliance at the UPRM, agreed and believes that approval of same-sex marriage would represent progress towards freedom and equality in society. Moreover, Ferrer compared the issue (same-sex marriage approval) with the similar struggles of interracial couples about 50 years ago. Vazquez affirmed that approval of same-sex marriage is “a step in the right direction; however, it should be taken with precaution”. Arroyo Pizarro agreed after jokingly stating that they were “degenerates”.
At the conclusion of the press conference Arroyo Pizarro gave a brief speech on an ongoing lawsuit against the government of Puerto Rico for finding unconstitutional the prohibition of same-sex marriage by the state. Governor of Puerto Rico Alejandro García Padilla openly stated that he does not favor same-sex marriage, but that if a court determines otherwise, he would respect that decision, a statement that Arroyo Pizarro considers a publicity stunt by the Governor’s Office to gain voters. She noted that although García Padilla does not favor same-sex marriage, more has been achieved on behalf of the LGBT community under the current administration than with previous ones.
Four days after the press conference, a news article published by El Nuevo Día, that the lawsuit filed against the government of Puerto Rico was dismissed in court after federal judge Juan M. Pérez Giménez determined that the Civil Code was not unconstitutional and that the definition of a marriage should not be in the hands of the judiciary but instead it should be evaluated by the Legislature. Until further evaluation determines otherwise, same-sex couples married outside Puerto Rico will not be recognized as married in the island.
The United States Government announced this week that same-sex marriage will be validated in 32 states as result of the decision of the Supreme Court to include six more states where federal authorities will now recognize same-sex marriage.