As Florida's leaders spent this session in Tallahassee yet again trying to make life more difficult for gay residents, an unlikely nation in South America proved once more that it’s a regional pioneer in championing diversity and equality.
It's Argentina, where authorities last week allowed a one-year-old boy to become the child of three legal parents—his two moms and his biological father. That's a Latin American first.
“This is about a boy who’s loved by his parents, and this is about happiness,” Esteban Paulón, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Trans (FALGBT), tells New Times. “We’re showing that these things should be accessible to all people.”
It's just the latest in a string of groundbreaking moves for LGBT rights in Argentina.
In 2010, the South American country became the first in Latin America to legalize gay marriage, including full adoption rights for gay couples. In 2012, it became the world’s most transgender friendly country, with a gender-identity law that allows people to change their legal gender and name without permission from a court or doctor, and access sex-change surgery or hormone therapy through public or private health care plans.
Last Thursday, the family at the center of the latest breakthrough appeared in a press conference alongside lawmakers in Mar del Plata, the capital of Buenos Aires Province, where provincial Cabinet Chief Alberto Pérez said that none of the child's parents should have to give up their rights and obligations. The child, Antonio, will take the last names of all three parents.
“While there is no precedent for this legal recognition [in Argentina], the family deserves protection and safeguarding,” Pérez said. "This decision may break with some preconceptions, but we are not afraid of excessive love."
Similar cases have emerged in recent years in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In January 2007, a provincial court in Ontario ruled that a boy can legally have three parents.
The move was largely supported by LGBT rights groups that have worked for years to enact sweeping change, as well as those who are historically less likely to support progressive legislation, including the conservative provincial governor Daniel Scioli.
The news comes just as the United States and states are fiercely debating LGBT rights issues. On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justices appeared sharply divided on the constitutionality of same sex marriage.
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Meanwhile, in Florida, there is still no statewide law protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment or housing. Earlier this month, Florida lawmakers approved a measure that would allow private adoption agencies to refuse to let gay couples adopt children, which still hasn't gotten a vote in the Senate.
In Argentina, Paulón says gay marriage legalization has been overwhelmingly positive.
“In the five years since it passed, there haven’t been any of the tragedies that people thought might happen,” he said.