Costa Rica Accidentally Approves Gay Marriage; Christian Lawmakers Fight New Law

Costa Rica inadvertently approved a bill last week that could open the way for same-sex marriage, and now an evangelical Congressman of the Christian Costa Rican Renovation Party said he and other conservative lawmakers will aim to challenge the newly ratified bill.

Congressman Justo Orozco demanded that President Laura Chinchilla veto the Young Persons Act, a reform that covers social issues and laws governing marriage, with the emphasis that homosexuality is "unconstitutional," according to The Costa Rican News.

"Homosexuality is a practice strange and foreign to our customs," said Orozco.

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However, President Chinchilla disregarded the demand and proceeded to sign the bill into law.

"Interpretations of what the item might say are under the powers of a judge who has to resolve this case," she said.

Prior to the controversy, the bill previously defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. José María Villalta, a liberal lawmaker, then edited the bill with new language that included "the right to recognition without discrimination contrary to human dignity, social and economic effects of domestic partnerships," according to a Costa Rican newspaper, La Nación.

It wasn't until the bill was approved that conservative Congress members noticed that the final version had changed the language of its original definition of marriage.

Carlos Avendaño, a member of the Christian-based National Restoration Party, said the bill became distorted because the law previously established that marriage unions are between a man and a woman, reports Costa Rican newspaper Tico Times.

"The reference that is here is for heterosexual partners," Avendaño said, referring to the original bill.

While right-wing politicians argue against it, other legislators deny the new rule can be understood as authorizing gay marriage and claim it is a misinterpretation instead. However, Orozco says the interpretation of the law is "fraud because a law is being used to violate another."

But Villalta hopes the new bill will be the trigger point for changes in civil liberties, according to The Costa Rican News.

"This is a chance for family courts to examine the issue from the perspective from human rights," said Villalta.

He also criticized lawmakers who said homosexuality was equivalent to a disease, referring to comments that Orozco made.

"That preference is not a right," Orozco said, according to La Nación. "It's a stunted development of sexual identity. It can change like alcoholism and tobacco addiction," he added, implying that homosexuality can be cured.

Orozco and similar constituents are not the only ones who oppose the new bill. Costa Ricans living in the United States also share the same opinion.

"I applaud Justo Orozco for standing up on this issue. However, knowing how Costa Ricans are, I don't think it will be vetoed," said Francinie Montero, a Costa Rican native.

"It's saddening to see how quickly our world has turned their backs on God. I think Orozco is trying but it will come to a point where people will think what is wrong is right and what is right is wrong and that's what Costa Ricans are doing now. Saying that this bill is just a misinterpretation is not the case, they are just trying to make it seem okay," she added.

Montero noted that Costa Ricans have already begun protests for gay marriage rights. However, before the new bill, 73 percent of Costa Ricans opposed same-sex marriage in 2011, according to Tico Times.

"As a Christian it doesn't scare me that it's happening now because worst things are yet to come," said Montero.

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