Costa Rica Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Apparently By Accident

Costa Rica has apparently legalized same-sex marriage. However, the legislature claims the move was made quite by accident. The country's Legislative Assembly passed the measure on Monday.

Conservative lawmakers voted for the bill to pass, but later called for President Laura Chinchilla to veto the bill after they recognized how the language could be interpreted to change the definition of marriage.

The language was written by Jose Maria Villalta, a member of Costa Rica's leftist Broad Front Party. The language confers social rights and benefits of a civil union that is free from discrimination.

The lawmaker attached the measure to a reform of the Law of Young People. The reform covers social services for young people, as well as laws that govern marriage. He explained:

"During the discussion in the first debate, we explained that the Law of Young People should be interpreted with this sense of opening to gays and no one objected."

So, Villalta wrote it into the bill, a fact that angered conservative politicians like Justo Orozco, a member of the evangelical National Renovation Party. According to Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion, Orozco slammed the accidental gay marriage law, saying:

"That preference is not a right. It's a stunted development of sexual identity. It can change like alcoholism, tobacco addiction."

The law allowing same-sex marriage in Costa Rica is unlikely to hold, even if President Chinchilla doesn't veto it. It would still have to hold up in court, where it would most likely lose out. Current polls show the majority of Costa Ricans still oppose gay marriage.

But despite its likely dismal future, the accidental approval of same-sex marriage has given supporters an opening into the discussion. In an interview, Costa Rican gay rights advocate Marco Castillo stated, "It is a big step forward for gay rights in Costa Rica." However accidental it may have been.

Do you think the Costa Rican gay marriage bill should be allowed to stay, or should President Chinchilla veto it?

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