QCOSTARICA – The Solis Administration promised this past week to send two bills to congress to legalize gay unions, offering same sex couples right equal to those extended by tradition to conventional married couples.
Similar bills have been put forward before but weak-kneed politicians have shunned them and in one case during the last term, an Evangelical committee chairman scuttled the move.
The bills promise to be a hot button issue and moves may be expected to duck them. Only the President’s Citizen Action Party has come out boldly for them and traditionalist Catholics, following the Church official position, and the Evangelicals are hostile to same sex unions although surveys have indicated that Costa Ricans are more favorable than many leaders.
Politicians opposed to the measures and those too timid to face them indicate that every move will be made to postpone voting and the bill face an uphill battle. The Ministry of the Presidency, which will do much of the crafting of strategy, plans that the bills will be combined.
A subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee of the Legislative Assembly will work on the bills and, according to Vice Minister of the Presidency Ana Gabriel Zuñiga, there will be plenty of time to discuss the move. This means that wavering lawmakers will have time to get accustomed to the idea.
Presidency Minister Melvin Jimenez met with representatives of so-called LGTBI (Lesbians, gays, transsexuals, bisexuals and intersexuals) groups Wednesday morning to prepare them for a sometimes bitter struggle including probably some hate language on social media.
But Zuñiga was careful not to offer rash promises to these groups, telling them that how the vote may go in each party is yet to be measured and would be better measured when the combined text is complete. She assured them that the PAC floor leader in congress, Emilia Molina, would talk up the bill to the various party members.
Zuñiga said that the emphasis would not be on the popular initiative bill presented by Broad Front lawmaker Ligia Fallas that would permit not only gay marriage but adoption by gay couples and the decision about whose surname would be assigned to an adopted child.
Zuniga was again careful in drawing the difference between Fallas’s effort and the PAC measure. “Equal marriage isn’t on our agenda. We support communal living and de facto unions,” she said, careful to use the work “unions” because “gay marriage” is almost inflammatory to some opponents.
The measure will be presented during the extraordinary session of congress in which it will be the turn of the Solis Administration to set the agenda of which bill will get precedence. That session ends April 30.