If You Think Chile’s Civil Unions Means Support For Marriage Equality, You’re Wrong

Last Tuesday, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera sent a bill to Congress proposing legislation that would recognize gay civil unions, granting them inheritance rights and other privileges currently reserved for heterosexual marriages.

Two days later, Chile’s Independent Democrat Union introduced a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But is this amendment a backhanded response to Piñera’s legislation or actually a way to do his dirty work?

Though members of Independent Democrat Union refused to attend last week’s signing ceremony—where President Piñera put his John Hancock on the legislation for life-partner agreements—they also know that the President opposes full marriage equality. In fact, Piñera has repeatedly said, “I deeply believe that marriage is by nature between a man and a woman,” though he adds, “that conviction does not prevent me from recognizing that other forms of affective relationships exist.”

As it seems, the proposed amendment would not nullify life-partner agreements which, “allow gay and straight couples who have lived together for more than one year to enter the union.” Instead it would add the following sentence banning same-sex marriage to the Chilean Constitution: “In guaranteeing and protecting the family, only one man and one woman have the right to marry.”

Defining marriage as a man and a woman does absolutely nothing to protect those couples against divorce—but who cares? Some words are like magic! Just say them and bippity-boppity-boo you can have a pumpkin carriage, glass stripper pumps, horse-mice, and a perfect storybook wedding with a full protection guarantee. Ain’t language grand?

A 2009 poll showed more than 65% of Chileans support gay civil unions, but only 33% supported marriage equality. For young Chileans, that support goes up to 56%. But despite increasing public support, the Chilean LGBT community continues fighting for the inclusion of gender and sexual orientation into the country’s civil-rights amendments. (Last year the government released a controversial PSA calling domestic abusers “faggots.”)

Although Piñera hasn’t called for a full-out constitutional ban on marriage equality himself, in some ways the proposed amendment fulfills his already vocalized wishes. A politician who says thing and does another? Color us stunned.

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  • Robert in NYC

    I’m always amazed when foes of marriage equality always say…”marriage is by nature between a man and a woman? Marriage isn’t a natural phenomenon, it’s artificial, invented by men (not by some sky pixie) and changed by men for millenia,long before the abrahamic cults existed. The word “marriage” never existed in the old testament.

  • jesaves

    i deeply agree with you in those times ” traditional marriage” meant a man could have more than one wife so all these politicians who think same sex marriage will lead to polygamy should know that was the type of marriage that existed back then

  • JohnAGJ

    However flawed these new Chilean civil unions may be they are still far better than what we have in 32+ states here in the USA.

  • Mike in Asheville

    Well it might not be all peaches and cream for Chile’s g/l equality, BUT IT IS A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT BETTER THAN NORTH CAROLINA DENYING THE VALIDITY of the husband’s and my marriage (together 26 years; married in Massachusetts 3 years ago).

  • Claudio Martínez Obrero

    Thank you queerty for clearing this up.
    Actually, this civil unions bill is just that: a bill. It’s like an annotation of something to do. It’s not a Law Project, as it would appear. A Law project would go to the deputy’s chamber and beeing voted on a first constitutional process, but it is far away from that.

    I hope, though, marriage equality issue would be afforded through other ways. There’s actually a constitutional demand on the supreme court for denying same sex marriage as inconstitutional, there are actually several ways this could be done, there are several pathways for marriage equality by claiming the constitution. Not to mention what is happening here with social protests: people is asking to create a new legitimate constitution (none of chilean constitutions has been democraticly legitimated, last one was voted under suspicious condittions). This could validate several issued from the “valoric agenda” (how it is called here), since the perception here is that politicians take too much time to legitimize social changes.

  • Dorothea from Germany

    Dear author:
    The Chilean president’s name is Sebastián Piñera. Don’t forget the diacritics.
    Also, there is no reason to be so condescending when writing about the Chilean LGBT legislation. The USA is not any better. Instead of marriage equality, the USA has DOMA. Your president doesn’t support marriage equality either. The USA doesn’t even have national anti-discrimination laws regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. Yet, a lot of US Americans consider their country to be the greatest in the world and superior to all other countries. I wonder what this assumption is based on.

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