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Popular Topics in The Arts
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Congratulations to Brazil
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 05/14/13
Last updated on: 05/14/13
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A 14-1 decision by the National Council of Justice announced on May 14, 2013 has extended marriage equality throughout Brazil. The decision requires registrars throughout the country to marry same-sex couples and to convert civil unions to full-fledged marriages without the need for judicial orders. Brazil thus has become the 14th--and most populous--nation to extend equal marriage rights to all its gay and lesbian citizens.

As reported by Mariana Oliveira in O Globo, the decision, written by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, gives effect to the landmark ruling of May 4, 2011. Then Brazil's highest court, on a 10-0 vote, with one abstention, ruled that partners in a "stable" same-sex union had the same legal rights as a heterosexual married couple. "Discrimination generates hatred," wrote Justice Carlos Ayres Britto.

The 2011 ruling meant that Brazilian same-sex couples are entitled to retirement, inheritance, and health benefits on the same basis as married couples, as well as other rights, including the right to adopt children.

In response to the landmark 2011 ruling, judges throughout the country began converting civil unions into full-fledged marriages, following an existing procedure for converting common-law marriages into legal marriages.

However, until the decision released on May 14, 2013, only in thirteen states and the Federal District were same-sex couples able to marry in registry offices without requiring judicial intervention. The states in which same-sex couples could marry in the same way as heterosexual couples encompassed more than 60% of the nation's population.

The decision issued on May 14, 2013 makes clear that notaries and other officials may not refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It comes as the result of a request for clarification by Congressman Jean Wyllys, who represents Rio in Brazil's House of Deputies.

In the video below, from 2011, Brazilian same-sex couples marry as a result of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling.

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