Puerto Rico’s Governor signs sweeping LGBT legislation into law

By Cathy Kristofferson, May 29, 2013

PR_prideToday Governor Alejandro García Padilla of Puerto Rico signed into law two LGBT bills recently passed by the island’s Senate and House.  The two bills, which protect LGBT people in employment, housing, governmental services and public accommodations, and adds sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to domestic violence laws, passed the House 29-22 following earlier Senate approval 15-11 and hours and hours of debate.

Originally bans in discrimination in commercial transactions, property rentals, public transportation and other circumstances were proposed but those clauses were removed after heavy opposition by religious groups.

Gay rights are advancing in the island nation thanks to years of advocacy work and a change in government last November. Opposition has long stood due in Puerto Rico due to the strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church and socially conservative Protestants. Also, the island’s status as a United States commonwealth does have influence over the legal rights of its LGBT citizens which are covered by some U.S. legislation such as the Matthew Shepherd Act.

pedrojulioserranoPuerto Rico’s anti-sodomy law, upheld as constitutional by its own Supreme Court, was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Lawrence v. Texas decision when it declared unconstitutional all state and territorial statutes penalizing consensual sodomy.

Showing how far the island nation has come, Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force spoke of the bills’ passage:

“A decade ago, LGBT Puerto Ricans were criminals under the sodomy law, today we’re second-class citizens and when this bill is signed into law, we will be closer to achieving the first-class citizenship that we deserve. Equality is inevitable. Puerto Rico will be for all.”

Congratulations LGBT Puerto Ricans – welcome to your first-class citizenship!

What I want to know is, when will the U.S. get a ‘sweeping’ federal non-discrimination bill protecting all our nation’s LGBT people in employment, housing, governmental services and public accommodations so we can be first-class citizens too?

7 thoughts on “Puerto Rico’s Governor signs sweeping LGBT legislation into law

  1. The USA will catch up to Puerto Rico very quickly when the social conservative RepubliCONS and TPods are removed by the people! Michelle Botchmann is a start! Next is Failin’ Palin! Et al!

    1. I know! I just don’t know what the House Intelligence Committee is going to do without her!

  2. I have been to San Juan. Puerto Rico is a beautiful place, the people are lovely. I bet our LGBT brothers and sisters are dancing in the streets. Congratulations! I’m curious and would bet, Ricky Martin coming out helped allot. He is a god there. Also curious Cathy….. how does what Puerto Rico passes effect our laws? I worry that Scotus could say, see, even Puerto Rico is changing without the court. Any thoughts?

    1. Well, if SCOTUS is watching the news then they will also see that today here in the U.S. Exxon Mobil once again voted down LGBT non-discrimination protections (blog post coming momentarily!) with the lowest percentage of Yes votes ever. So any ideas, like the one Bader Ginsburg has been floating recently, that maybe the courts should stay out of it and let society evolve on its own seem to have been contradicted. Also, SCOTUS would see that the opportunity to pass those protections in Puerto Rico came along with election results similar to marriage equality in France.

      And Ricky Martin had written the legislature urging that they pass those two bills.

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