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020518_costa rica

Costa Rica Isn’t Clear on Same-Sex Marriage


Americans aren’t the only ones struggling to come to terms with same-sex marriage. Two and a half years after the Supreme Court forced a new definition of marriage on the U.S., Costa Ricans are reeling from a similar nightmare — only this time, from an international court with no respect for national sovereignty.

For the overwhelmingly religious country (90 percent identify as either Catholic or evangelical), last month’s decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to unilaterally rewrite Costa Rica’s marriage law was an outrage. Citizens everywhere railed against the ruling, which was so surprising it caught the attention of even U.S. senators like Mike Lee (R-Utah).

“Given that the United States is the predominant funder of the Organization of American States (OAS), it is of great concern that one of its international courts has issued an opinion recommending Costa Ricans to change their law,” he said. As the main supporter of the OAS (the U.S. provides about 60 percent of its budget), Senator Lee thinks it’s unconscionable that American tax dollars would be used to undermine the values and laws of Latin Americans. Adding to the uproar, as many as 20 countries will be affected by the decision demanding that same-sex marriage receive the same benefits and recognition as natural marriage.

If there is a silver lining, it’s the impact this rogue court is having on the Costa Rican presidential election. As reporters all around the world watch with amazement, the race has been turned upside-down by January’s ruling. “What had been a conventional campaign in Latin America’s most enduring democracy — with debates over corruption, crime and the economy — was suddenly upended four weeks ago when an international court decision required Costa Rica to legalize same-sex marriage,” the New York Times explains. “Fabricio Alvarado, 43, who was first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 2014, made his opposition to the ruling the centerpiece of his campaign and suddenly emerged from the crowded field of 13 candidates to finish in first place in the first round of voting.

The pastor and Christian singer is an outspoken evangelical, whose open opposition for same-sex marriage and the court’s decision have fueled an unprecedented rise in support. As one woman told the Associated Press, the issue is important enough to determine her vote. “For me the issue of values and principles is very important for all of society, because family is the basis of society. … You ask yourself what will happen to Costa Rica if Christian values are lost.”

Although Alvarado will still face a run-off with his next closest contender if he doesn’t win 40 percent of the vote, it’s a powerful illustration of how potent the issue of marriage is, even now as the Left argues it’s “settled.” “Mr. Alvarado called the decision a violation of Costa Rica’s sovereignty, and he threatened to pull the country out of the court if he is elected.”

Either way, Alvarado’s surge sends an important message to the world: the courts can make same-sex marriage legal, but they can’t make it right.


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