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.