Friday, May 6, 2011

Cause for Celebration: Brazilian court grants gay couples same rights as heterosexuals

I came close to tears today just reading the emotional and celebratory tweets in reaction to today's ruling by the Brazilian Supreme Court. Federal Justices in a 10-0 vote ruled in favor of granting gay couples the same  rights as heterosexual couples. From today forward, same-sex couples can legally commit in civil union and enjoy almost all the benefits that have, until now, been extended only to heterosexual couples. Gay individuals can:

  • Jointly file income taxes with a partner
  • Register as a dependent in a partner's health care plan
  • Inherit the estate of a deceased partner and receive life insurance payments
  • File for divorce and divide the assets equally
  • Receive child support in the case of divorce
The ruling did not address the issue of adoption by gay couples, which, for reasons I don't understand, would be voted on in the federal legislature. 

Brazil isn't the first country in Latin America to support civil unions. Same-sex couples can marry in Argentina and Mexico City, and Uruguay and Columbia also recognize civil unions. Brazil's court stopped short of recognizing same-sex marriage, but federal support for civil unions in the country with the worlds largest Catholic population is not insignificant. 

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