15 May 2013

Minnesota, Brazil And Michelle Bachmann's Stepsister

As you've probably heard by now, Minnesota has become the twelfth US state to legalize same-sex marriage.  Governor Mark Dayton signed the legislation yesterday, and the first gay weddings in The Land Of 10,000 Lakes will take place on 1 August.

This development really comes as no surprise.  After all, say what you will about him, Jesse Ventura voiced his support for same-sex marriage when he was the State's governor.  Also, Minnesota has a long history of progressive politics.  For example, it was one of the first states to pass laws to improve the welfare of farmers and laborers, and was one of the leaders in civil rights legislation.  Minneapolis was one of the first cities, and Minnesota the first state,  to include protections for gender identity and expression in its human rights laws.   

Plus, it's a neighbor of Iowa, which was legalized same-sex marriage two years ago.

One of the things that makes this victory so sweet and ironic is that Minnesota (or, more precisely, its 6th District, which includes the northern sububurbs of the Twin Cities) has also elected our good friend Michelle Bachmann--who ran for the Republican Presidential nomination last year--to Congress three times. She famously predicted that same-sex unions would become legal in her home state. 

The fact that her prediction has come to pass means that Helen La Fave is planning her wedding.  Who is Ms. LaFave?  She's none other than the lovely Ms. Bachmann's stepsister.  

Hmm...Maybe something is in the air or water.  At almost exactly the same time Governor Dayton was autographing his state's newest law, Brazil's National Council of Justice decreed that the country's notary publics must register same-sex unions as marriages if the couples so request.

Right now, same-sex marriages are legal in fourteen of Brazil's twenty-seven states. However, conservative evangelical legislators have derailed the Brazilian Congress' efforts to legalize gay marriage in the entire nation.  

I know little about the country, but I suspect that their situation parallels that of the US in one way:  There is a divide between the cosmopolitan coastal cities and the more homogeneous and conservative rural population of the interior.  On the other hand, in nearby Argentina and Chile--both of which have legalized same-sex marriage nationwide--most of the people are nominally Catholic, but the Church has little (and evangelicals have almost no) influence on national politics.

Still, I suspect that allowing same-sex marriages nationwide will happen sooner in Brazil than it will happen in the United States for one simple reason:  Rural Brazilians are moving to the cities in search of work.  On the other hand, religious and social conservatives in the US are moving to states that already have large populations of like-minded people, which means that those states will be even less likely to allow same-sex marriages, or even civil unions.

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