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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for July, 2013

Chinchilla signs Accidental Civil Unions bill

Timothy Kincaid

July 5th, 2013

The bill which passed the Costa Rica legislature this week which may (or may not) allow for same-sex civil unions has been signed. (La Nacion)

“Ya fue firmada y se ordenó la publicación”, dijo ayer el ministro de Comunicación, Carlos Roverssi, con respecto a la ley que, a criterio de algunos diputados y activistas pro derechos gais, podría validar las uniones homosexuales.

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“It was signed and ordered its publication”, said yesterday the Minister of Communication, Carlos Roverssi, with respect to the law that, in the opinion of some deputies and gay rights activists, could validate homosexual unions.

Inquiries have been filed with the nation’s courts to determine whether rights, benefits and obligations of marriage will be granted to same-sex couples.

Costa Rica President will sign accidental Civil Unions bill

Timothy Kincaid

July 4th, 2013

Tico Times:

After legislators “accidentally” passed a law that includes language that could open a path to same-sex civil unions in the Central American country, President Laura Chinchilla said on Wednesday that she would not veto it, as some lawmakers have urged.

“No, we’re going to go forward and will sign this law. We understand that the debate is over how some interpret the law and this alone is not sufficient for the executive to veto the law,” Chinchilla told reporters, according to a video posted by

There will likely be a court challenge to the meaning of the bill, but it looks promising. Prior to this legislation, the law stated that common law marriage was only between a man and a woman. This struck that provision, replacing it with “without discrimination against to human dignity”.

Civil Unions accidentally passed in Costa Rica

Timothy Kincaid

July 3rd, 2013

If this actually becomes law, it will be the quirkiest means by which same-sex couples have become recognized. Conservative members of the legislature rallied around a bill, thinking that it dealt with youth and family. It did, just not in the way they supposed. (Tico Times)

Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly on Monday passed a measure – by accident – that could legalize same-sex civil unions as part of a larger bill, lawmakers noted on Tuesday.

Conservative lawmakers voted for the bill’s passage without recognizing the included language that could be interpreted to change the definition of marriage, according to the daily La Nación.

Lawmakers are calling on President Laura Chinchilla to veto the bill they just voted for.

Costa Rica is between 15% and 20% evangelical Christian and the populace strongly opposes equality.

Marriage update – Central America and the Caribbean

Timothy Kincaid

January 25th, 2013

It’s getting marriagey all over the place. And it’s also getting hard to keep track of what is going on where. So here is an update to help (which will probably be outdated by the time I hit “publish”).

Central America:

Costa Rica – Gay Rights advocates met last month with the administration to discuss a proposal to provide specific couple benefits. It may be early yet to know how far or how quickly this could go, but it was a positive step. There is a strong opposition coming from (can you imagine?) the Catholic Church.

Other than Costa Rica, the outlook on same-sex couple rights in Central American looks dim.

Caribbean Islands:

In many of the Caribbean Islands, LGBT people live in a state of oppression, often subjected to social ostracization and occasional violence. There are a few bright spots.

Since 2009, the Dutch islands of Sint Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten, Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire have recognized same-sex marriages conducted in the Netherlands. But last month the tiny island of Saba finalized changes to their laws to become the first Caribbean Island to offer marriages. The other five are expected to follow.

Costa Rica anti-marriage initiative declared unconstitutional

Timothy Kincaid

August 10th, 2010

The Catholic Church in Costa Rica, though a political organization they sponsor, had collected enough signatures to put a proposition on the ballot to ban recognition of same-sex couples. The supreme court of that country has now declared that proposition unconstitutional. (Nacion)

The Constitutional Court was brought down on the referendum on the draft law on same-sex, which was scheduled for December.

By a majority of five votes, the Constitutional Court upheld the protections that have accrued against the decision of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) of collecting signatures to organize such a referendum.

And why?

On the merits, the majority considered that the rights of minorities that arise from anti-majoritarian claims can not be subjected to a referendum process that is all about majority.

This does not mean that the court ruled for marriage equality. Indeed, in 2006 the court ruled that there was no constitutional right to same-sex marriage. However, the legislature is considering civil unions, and this clears their way to do so unencumbered by a reversing referendum.

Costa Rica’s marriage ban referrendum challenged

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2010

An organization opposed to civil equality of gay people in Costa Rica has gathered signatures to place a referendum on the December 2010 ballot which would disallow same-sex civil unions. In a heavily Catholic country, gay rights supporters fear that the Catholic Church – which is becoming increasingly hostile to gay people around the world – would be able to influence the vote.

Last week, the nation’s highest court directed the election board to respond to a challenge to this referendum. (ticotimes)

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) has given the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE) three days to address a challenge relating to a referendum on same-sex civil unions.

The challenge was filed by longtime civil servant Esteban Quirós, who questioned the validity of addressing human rights issues enshrined in international treaties in a referendum. He said Costa Rica is bound by international conventions that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In Costa Rica, the provisions of international treaties supersede all national laws except the Constitution.

Same-sex couples have a better chance of recognition for their relationships from legislative efforts as many politicians, including the president, are supportive.