Marriage litigation begins in Brazil

by on June 29, 2011  •  In Marriage

A state trial court judge in Sao Paulo has ruled that two men who have entered into the equivalent of a civil union have a  legal right to marry. (See excerpts from Washington Post story below.)  The judge relied on a Brazilian Supreme Court decision in May holding that same-sex couples were entitled to the same treatment under law as what Brazil terms "stable unions," the closest analog to which is probably common law marriage. The Brazilian Supreme Court rejected a claim that gay couples have a right to marry, but Sao Paulo state Judge Fernando Henrique Pinto ruled that the two men could convert their stable union into a marriage, which is an option open to straight couples.

My source in SP tells me that the decision will almost certainly be overturned by the intermediate appellate court, but the plaintiffs have said that they will take the case to the Brazilian Supreme Court.

Jose Luiz Bednarski, a lawyer for the Sao Paulo state attorney general, said in an opinion presented to Pinto that the marriage was legal. “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,” Bednarski wrote. “This certainly includes the choice or sexual orientation of a person.”…

While the court released only the initials of the couple that was married, the Globo television network’s G1 website identified the men as Sergio Kauffman Sousa and Luiz Andre Moresi. They asked a state court in the city of Jacarei, 53 miles (85 kilometers) northeast of Sao Paulo, to approve their marriage….

In Latin America, gay marriage is legal only in Argentina and Mexico City. Same-sex civil unions granting some rights to homosexual couples are legal in Uruguay and in some states of Mexico outside the capital. Colombia’s Constitutional Court has granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to health insurance plans.


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