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Costa Rica Approves Marriage Equality — Unintentionally

By Trudy Ring

The Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica has approved a bill that could allow same-sex marriage in the Central American nation — apparently by accident.

Before voting on amendments to the Law of Young People this week, many Assembly members may have overlooked one inserted by liberal legislator José María Villalta, affirming “the right to recognition without discrimination” for domestic partnerships and eventually granting “legal capacity for marriage.”

“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,” Villalta explained, according to London’s Independent newspaper. His amendment was then inserted into the bill. He has noted that lawmakers often vote on bills without reading them thoroughly.

Now conservative legislators are calling for President Laura Chinchilla to veto the measure. She has refused, saying, “We understand that the debate is over how some interpret the law, and this alone is not sufficient for the executive to veto the law,” according to local media reports. The legislation, however, may be challenged in court.

Right-wing politicians have made strong statements in opposition to marriage and other rights for LGBT people. “That preference is not a right,” Justo Orozco, a member of the conservative National Renovation Party, told Costa Rican newspaper La Nación. “It’s a stunted development of sexual identity. It can change like alcoholism, tobacco addiction.” He also has said, “You can’t give rights to people who don’t deserve them.”

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