So. The pieces had been set. Everything seemed to be coming together and it looked as if it was finally gonna happen. Gay marriage! One of those things that seem to be a hot topic in Western Civilization these days. I don’t know why though! I mean, last time I checked, persecution of homosexuals was so 1506! Of course, you seldom hear some angry old lady scream the word “abomination!”, but you have to understand that she comes from a different, simpler time, before the sexual revolution, when unhappy, unfaithful couples would stay married for the rest of their lives because, you know, divorce was a mortal sin, and homosexuality was repressed and dealt with in a Brokeback Mountain kinda way.
But, alas, progress has caught up with us and now we have to deal with all this freedom and equality! What is the world coming to?!
Anyway, December 1st was the date chosen by José María Di Bello and Alejandro Freyre to become the first homosexual couple to get married in South America. They chose this day, World AIDS Day, symbolically, since they are both HIV positive and they expected to send a double message to the community of tolerance and awareness. When a judge granted them the right to marry some days ago, claiming that to deny them of this right was unconstitutional, even the mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, a conservative, replied he was not going to take action against this measure because clearly “the whole world was heading this way” (I have to say, I’m not quite sure my hyperbolic friend here is right. I mean, I can’t quite vision a couple of newlywed lesbians wearing white burkas, holding hands and walking down the streets of some town in Saudi Arabia soon…).
But I digress. Like i said, everything seemed to be ready for the ceremony, when a day before, some evil catholic lawyer named Francisco Roggero, apparently in cahoots with Opus Dei (you know, the controversial catholic organization from The Da Vinci Code…I know! I though they were fictional too!) convinced some other judge to revoke the previous permit based on some bigoted legal mumbo jumbo no one really understands. So what do you know, wedding’s off!
Our gay pioneers, in clear defiance to the system, told the media they were still going to go to the judge to get married and invited whoever wanted to join them to come to the ceremony. And this brings us to what happened today, which felt like a mash up of an episode of Queer as Folk and the plot from some bad 80′s movie.
Located at the very posh (and gay friendly!) neighborhood of Palermo, the civil registry building was surrounded by news vans from all over the world and supporters who expected to throw some rice at the newlyweds. The Argentine Federation for Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transexuals (Federacion Argentina GLBT) was part of the organization of the ceremony, and many of its volunteers were herding the press and curious ones so they would not get in the way of another couple who had just gotten married and were about to exit the building.
And as they did, the people from the Federation asked for a big round of applause congratulating them. I was moved. If only it were reciprocal and heterosexual couples could show gay couples a little of that respect, the world would be a much better place.
Now the downside of all this, is that, as you know, people throw rice when couples leave the building, so dozens of pigeons constantly stalk the area in search for food. After being there for half an hour, pretty much everyone had been hit by bird droppings.
“See? This is a sign”, claimed an old man who was standing by, clearly annoyed. “Gay marriage is unnatural, so even nature is expressing its disgust with all this circus”. And his theory, I’m sure, could have been given some serious thought, if it weren’t for the fact that the back of his brown leather jacket was all covered in green bird poop too.
Suddenly people could hear music coming from two blocks away and heads started turning. It wasn’t just any music, it was the Wedding March! And then, like out of some Terry Gilliam movie, a huge cattle truck half a block long showed up in front of the building carrying a few people and playing the march through some big ass speakers. Oh my, the horror! I can imagine the neighbors grabbing their rosary beads and going all crazy and stuff.
But yes, I am not exaggerating. Adorned with colorful banners on its side that read “Celebrate diversity” and some balloons, the cattle truck slowly parked in front of the civil registry.
If you still don’t believe me, here’s some video of it!
But what do you know, still no groom & groom!
The Federation then decided to offer a press conference inside the building and the media swarmed in to try to get the best seats. Dozens of representatives from diverse political parties (they have to score some points you know) and NGOs were standing there behind a desk, and under a banner that read “Matrimonio Ya!” (Marriage now!). Marcela Romero, a transsexual who became extremely popular last month when the Argentine Congress selected her as “Women of the Year”, was also there. Even a couple of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Founding Line were present to support gay marriage and equal rights for everyone (see? Not all old ladies are mean).
This all got me thinking about how advanced the Argentine society has come to be. Just think about it: only 30 years ago, a cruel, bloody dictatorship was going on here, where you could be killed for basically wearing the wrong tie. And now you have Congress naming a transsexual woman of the year, and quite possibly the first gay marriage in the whole continent? That’s progress, whether some people still living in the dark ages like it or not.
Some ladies working at the civil registry looked at the whole thing from a window on the second floor in a way that totally looked like a promo shot for Gossip Girl – Late 40′s Edition.
The head of the Federation then announced some big news: the Judge who originally allowed the couple to marry, Gabriela Seijas, had revoked the annulment stated by the other judge, Martha Gómez Alsina, and ordered the authorities to marry the couple. Catfight! This was all starting to feel like some bad Latin american soap opera. People were celebrating all around. Now it was in the hands of the city government. The Mayor of Buenos Aires had the final decision on what to do. Both grooms walked in, in tears, wearing a dark suit and a red ribbon over their shoulders and chest.
You could feel it in the air. This was it. History in the making. The first gay couple to get married in the country, on such a symbolic day. All they needed was a phone call.
Guess what! The call never came. Apparently the case was now in the hands of the Argentine Supreme Court, which was allegedly going to take months to reach a decision (suddenly renting that truck didn’t seem like such a wise investment, did it!). Well those guys better choose wisely, because according to polls 66% of the population is for gay marriage.
So that was it. The wedding was off. I mean, this sucks. No cake? No wedding gifts?? I would have totally killed to see what president Cristina Fernandez would have sent the happy couple, considering how “original” she is when it comes to giving gifts to homosexual couples (last year, as a gift for the first gay civil union celebrated in Buenos Aires, she sent a portrait of herself. True story!)
And so another disappointment for the gay community came to be while some bloodsucking lawyer is having sex with a crucifix thanking God for yet a few more months without gays taking over the world and forcing him to listen to Madonna’s “Papa don’t preach” 24/7.
It seems, for now, History will have to wait at least for a few more months to keep moving in the right direction.