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Steps toward Same-Sex Marriage in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the U.S., and Uruguay

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Colombia’s congress is considering a bill to legalize gay marriage. (AP Images)

December 20, 2012

This month, a number of countries in the Americas moved closer to legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. AS/COA Online provides an overview of the latest policy movements in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, and Uruguay.

  • In Brazil, the São Paulo state judiciary issued a new rule on December 18 which requires notaries to marry same-sex couples. The change follows the May 2011 Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex unions. Gay couples can also marry across Brazil, but in order to do so they have to register a civil union and then go to the courts to convert the union into a marriage. The December rule now means same-sex couples in Brazil’s most populous state can skip a court order and get a marriage license at a public notary.
  • The United States Supreme Court announced on December 7 that justices would rule on two key cases on gay marriage. The Court will decide on Proposition 8, a California law banning same-sex marriage, as well as the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This 1996 law defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and limits certain government and tax benefits to heterosexual couples. The Court will begin hearing arguments in March 2013 with decisions expected in June. Not only will the judgment have implications for other state-based gay marriage laws, but the DOMA verdict could also impact immigration. Currently, DOMA prevents same-sex married couples from obtaining immigration benefits, such as the ability to apply for a green card or an employment-based visa. If DOMA is overturned, binational gay couples may win the right to marriage immigration benefits

In other LGBT news in the Americas: