Last week we told you about a mass gay civil union ceremony in Brazil that was held to celebrate the country's Federal Supreme Court decision recognizing the right of gays and lesbians to form same-sex civil unions in May.
Usually, civil unions are a inferior version of marriages that are seen as a stop-gap on the road to full equality. Well, it turns out that the civil unions graduated into full-on same-sex marriages pretty quickly. A judge in Brazil's Sao Paulo state court recently granted a gay couple the right to upgrade their civil union to a full marriage license
, citing the Supreme Court's decision and the Brazilian Constitution, which grants that civil unions (known as stable unions and previously available to straight couples as an alternative to religious marriage) may be upgraded to full marriages at any time.
The couple from Jacarei, 85 kilometres northeast of Sao Paulo, are Brazil's first gay married couple. They've said they're prepared to fight any challenge of their legal status all the way to the Supreme Court. However, even Sao Paulo state's attorney-general's office appears to back the unions. A lawyer for the attorney-general's office advised the judge in the case that "The federal constitution establishes as a fundamental objective of the Federal Republic of Brazil to promote the good of everyone without bias of gender or any other form of discrimination."
Brazil is now the most populous country in the world to recognize and perform same sex marriages, and the second country in South America to do so after Argentina legalized gay marriage last year. Other countries to allow gay marriage include Belgium, Iceland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden. Canada of course became the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide in 2005. Gay marriage is also recognized in six US states and foreign same-sex marriages are recognized in Israel.