Proving that he is the coolest president in South America (a feat already achieved in eyes of anti-Kirchner crowd with this statement) José Mujica signed off on legislation the legalized same-sex in Uruguay back in May, but this stroke of progress only went into effect yesterday when Uruguay opened up registration to same sex couples wanting to tie the knot.
After being together for 14 years, Sergio Miranda and Rodrigo Borda were the first couple to register to get married, and have set the date for sometime after August 16th, when the last remnants of red tape will have been (read: should be) taken care of. Miranda opened up to reporters saying that Uruguay is sending a message to the world “that we all have rights [and] there are no first and second class citizens.”
This is a huge step forward for Argentina’s eastern neighbor, which in addition to being number one in day trips for extranjeros looking to renew their tourist visa, has been a beacon of light for progressive policy in the region for enough time to be considered the “Switzerland” of South America (I’m not sure what to make of that statement either, but it’s a buzz phrase people use when talking about Uruguay so let’s go with it.)
Miranda and Borda’s circumstances stand in contrast to the more heartbreaking story of two un-named men who were able to bypass the mandatory 10-day waiting period imposed by the government, and were granted special permission to get married yesterday because one of the men getting married was terminally ill. While the current condition of the terminally ill man is unknown, reports have surfaced indicating that the couple has indeed wed, and had a ceremony in the hospital. Other sources are reporting that the terminally ill spouse has had his last rights performed, and is close to dying.
On the surface this particular set of circumstances may seem heartbreaking, but it also exemplifies the set of basic rights people have been fighting for. The right to face life’s challenges with someone you love has been something thousands of people have gone out on a limb to achieve, and while wedding cakes and photo-booths may be the first things that pop into our minds when we think weddings, examples like the un-named couple in Uruguay should remind all of us, gay and straight, what people have been fighting for all these years.
The central idea goes much deeper than a party, and should be celebrated, for being as beautiful as it is just.