2,000 MARCH IN CARACAS
About 2,000 people marched in Caracas, Venezuela's third gay-pride parade June 29 led by Pride Queen Mariluchi who rode in a yellow convertible and carried a pink poodle.
The march ended at Museum Plaza with speeches and artistic performances. The city government provided the stage and sound equipment.
Activists unveiled a new gay-pride flag that won a contest carried out in gay bars and on the Web. It combines the red, blue and yellow Venezuelan flag with the gay rainbow flag.
800,000 MARCH IN BRAZIL
Police said 800,000 people turned out for São Paulo, Brazil's gay-pride parade June 22 making it one of the largest gay parades in the world, and the largest in the developing world.
The march featured 30 sound trucks and Mayor Marta Suplicy atop a float. The theme was 'constructing homosexual policies.' Activists are keen to pass a partnership bill that has lingered in Congress for several years.
São Paulo has almost 100 gay bars and restaurants and is considered to have Latin America's best gay scene. More than 20 other Brazilian cities also celebrate gay pride.
PARTNER BILL IN CHILE
A gay partnership bill was introduced in Chile's Congress June 11.
It would allow same-sex couples who have lived together for at least two years to enter a civil contract and have access to marriage rights in areas such as pensions and inheritance. The right to adoption is not included.
'Our society is not that conservative,' Congresswoman Maria Antonieta Saa told Reuters. 'A small powerful group is holding Chilean society hostage because they don't want to reform the laws so that citizens have the option of choosing their own lifestyle.'
Neighboring Argentina has comprehensive gay civil-unions laws in the city of Buenos Aires and the province of Río Negro. Worldwide, three nations let gays get married and several grant same-sex couples most or all rights of matrimony via partnership laws or other means.
BRITISH COLUMBIA LEGALIZES GAY MARRIAGE
A second Canadian province legalized full same-sex marriage July 8.
British Columbia's Court of Appeal followed in the footsteps of Ontario's Court of Appeal which forced legalization of same-sex marriage on June 10.
Less than an hour after the new ruling, Tom Graff and Anthony Porcino were married in front of Vancouver's B.C. Law Courts building by United Church minister Tim Stevenson, a gay member of the Vancouver City Council.
Both provinces' highest courts declared the federal government's opposite-sex definition of marriage unconstitutional. The federal government has agreed with that conclusion and is in the process of formally legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.
In the meantime, hundreds of same-sex couples already have married in Ontario and now weddings have begun in British Columbia as well. Neither province has a residency requirement for marriage. Foreign same-sex couples can buy a marriage license and get married the same day.
The B.C. Court of Appeal initially struck down the federal definition of marriage on May 1 of this year but suspended its ruling until July 2004 to give the feds time to rewrite the marriage laws. Subsequently, Ontario's Court of Appeal struck down the federal definition of marriage but did not include a grace period. In light of the Ontario ruling, the B.C. court decided to close the gap, thereby legalizing same-sex marriage in the province instantly.
The court stated: 'The Ontario Court of Appeal ... granted immediate relief, including a reformulation of the common-law definition of marriage to permit same-sex marriages, and an order that the Clerk of the City of Toronto issue marriage licences to the same-sex couples who had been denied licences. ... The federal government has instructed its counsel not to appeal either the Ontario Court of Appeal decision ... or the decision of this Court, and ... marriages between same-sex couples have been taking place in Ontario.
'Any further delay in implementing the remedies [of our May 1 decision] will result in an unequal application of the law as between Ontario and British Columbia, with same-sex couples being denied the right to marry in British Columbia until July 12, 2004, while same-sex couples in Ontario may marry as and when they choose to do so. [T]he Court is satisfied that it is appropriate to amend the order in these appeals to lift the suspension of remedies, with the result that the declaratory relief and the reformulation of the common-law definition of marriage as 'the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others' will take immediate effect.'
Here are excerpts from the provincial Vital Statistic Agency's 'how to' on getting married in British Columbia:
'The Marriage Act requires that you obtain a marriage licence. ... The bride or groom must apply in person to the Marriage Licence Issuer in your community. Only one member of the couple needs to apply for the licence, but you will be asked to provide identification for both the bride and the groom. Information required with identification will include: full name, including given names; birth date and birth place; marital status [and] current address. A fee must be paid at the time of application.'
For additional details, including how to find a marriage-license issuer and a marriage commissioner, and to get forms, www.vs.gov .bc.ca/marriage/howto.html.