Thursday, February 8, 2007

Colombia's moving on up

Like the Jeffersons, to the metaphorical East Side of equal rights for same-sex couples.... No, no, no, silly analogy, good TV show.

Anyway, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled yesterday that same-sex couples should have the same property rights as heterosexual couples. This should not be confused with civil unions or marriage, but it's a step in the right direction. Here's a bit more:
The Constitutional Court ruled late Wednesday that if a gay couple of two years separates, the assets accumulated during the relationship will be divided between the two, and in the case of death, the survivor will receive all the assets.
The article goes on to describe the next steps that LGBT groups are taking there to advance the rights of same-sex couples, a step-by-step approach to eventually achieve full equality.

365gay has more:
Under the law same-sex couples who wanted to share their property had had to create a business, put the property in the company name, and list the domestic partners as joint shareholders in the company. But, even that did not always guarantee that in the case of death of one of the partners the shared possessions would go to the surviving one.
What a novel idea. It's interesting to me that the bond that people develop gets recognized as a contract here in the US, an agreement between two people that does not exist on its own. Rather that bond is a way for people to negotiate their actions as individuals. Gays in Colombia have taken this in another direction, moved well beyond setting their bond as a valid contract between two individuals and made it an entity of its own by incorporating it, with its own identity and rights.

While I'm sure that the primary reason for coming up with that idea was the same reason behind the fight for same-sex marriage in the US (protecting one's family), I can't help but wonder how something like this could play out with the highly-libertarian ethos of the US. If you look at people as individuals, and marriages as contracts, where does that leave love and desire? Up in the air, not legally recognized or recognizable, that's where. It would be an absolute denial of reality to say that such bonds don't exist or aren't important, but isn't that the logical end of the "Marriage is a contract for people to start making babies" argument?

This ruling is based on such an understanding of relationships. The ruling did not give the rights of heterosexuals to queer people. It gave some of the rights of opposite-sex couples to same-sex couples. Indeed, that is the ultimate goal of the US movement for same-sex marriage, but the reliance on the Fourteenth Amendment and it's equal protection of individual people under the law might preclude the possibility of such a goal. Gay and lesbian people are hurt by their relationships not being recognized even though we are recognized as existing, so maybe adopting an ontology that can accept relationships and bonds as entities separate of the individuals who form them can help to articulate the hurt caused by the dismissal of such rights.

No comments: