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Gay marriage bill in Costa Rica stifled again

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The bill to give longterm gay couples the same legal benefits as conventionally wed couples finally made it to debate Tuesday on the floor of the Legislative Assembly, only to have discussion blocked by recesses.

The Libertarian Movement, Renovacion Costarricense Party’s Justo Orozco and the (also Evangelical) Renovacion Nacional Party called three 15-minute recesses in quick succession before Legislative Assembly president Victor Emilio Granados finally gave up.

One recess interrupted a passionate speech by Social Christian Unity Party floor leader Luis Fishman for lawmakers to keep an open mind and allow equal rights in a free society.

Also angry at the interruption was Citizen Action Party (PAC) deputy Carmen Granados. But the quorum of the 57-member unicameral congress was weak to begin with — easily broken by the walkout of just a few members.

This is a common blocking mechanism used by a minority to gag the discussion of the majority. PAC repeatedly used the tactic on 13 bills needed to allow implementation of the free trade treaty with the U.S. (CAFTA) during the Arias administration.

After the third such parliamentary maneuver, it became apparent to Granados that discussion just wasn’t going to happen and he gaveled the session to a close at around 7:20 p.m., early for an evening session.

Orozco’s opposition was expected. As the controversial head of the Human Rights Committee, he had ramrodded through a rejection of the bill earlier this year.

But President Laura Chinchilla, using chief executive’s privilege under Costa Rican law, had again put it on the agenda. Lawmakers reconvened Thursday but, with a mere week to go before holiday vacation, it appears that the bill will have to wait.

Update: Meanwhile, three presidential candidates for nomination have come out for gay civil union legal recognition. Wednesday, Rodrigo Arias added his voice to that of the Citizen Action Party (PAC) candidates Juan Carlos Mendoza and Luis Guillermo Solis.

A National Liberation Party candidate, Arias said on Twitter, “I’m in favour of legal recognition of same sex unions in aspects such as inheritance, cohabitation, prison or hospital visits…” His front-running rival Johnny Araya also shared this position although both avoided use of the word “marriage.”


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