By Susana Hernandez Martin (El Toque)
HAVANA TIMES – The inclusion of Article 68 in Cuba’s new draft Constitution seems to be the only thing people are talking about during the popular consultation process. The chance to recognize marriage as the union between two people, regardless of their gender, has led to the most repetitive speeches at every assembly (if we go by what official media reports anyway).
I have read the arguments that are given at these meetings, I have gone to several assemblies and I can tell you that opinions against same-sex marriage are scarce and repetitive because when it comes to discrimination in the 21st century, everything is just a fabricated excuse.
On the contrary, arguments supporting the justice of this step forward continue to multiply every day with proof of “non-traditional” families existing and going through the same problems and happy times like their counterparts.
Nevertheless, what are some of the opinions that disapprove of Article 68 being passed? Can we counter them? Let’s take a look and try.
- “It’s a measure being taken in haste and Cuban society isn’t ready for it.”
Just like there aren’t any studies to prove the level of people’s acceptance of same-sex marriage, there isn’t any research here in Cuba that proves that the majority reject this proposal either.
Those who claim that Cuban society isn’t ready to broaden LGBTIQ+ people’s rights have their own assumptions as a reference and maybe even the homophobic beliefs of some of the people closest to them, which can’t be applied to situations and contexts they have no knowledge about and that have nothing to do them.
The National Center for Sex Education’s (CENESEX) dialogue with the government and Communist Party, Days Against Homophobia and Transphobia since 2007, independent activists’ work, the subtle but real opening of the media to subjects relating to different sexual identities and the inclusion of these in alternative media’s agendas, have all paved the way for this moment when, even though not everyone is embracing the idea of same-sex marriage with euphoria, many people do recognize the just act that this measure represents.
- “There are more pressing issues that need to be solved before same-sex marriage.”
According to the current Constitution in force which takes inspiration from Jose Marti’s own ideas, nothing is more important than worshipping human dignity. Guaranteeing this is at the heart of the Cuban humanist project.
Approving marriage in all its forms would democratize a right which only a part of society has been able to enjoy as an exclusive privilege up until now, it would reclaim the LGBTIQ+ community’s value as citizens and it would have a positive impact on their wellbeing by broadening the scope of their legal and social opportunities.
Progress in the field of human rights in Cuba and responding to our government’s structural and economic problems are not incompatible but complementary processes, which are just as important in the path towards building a more dignified society for everyone.
- “Let same-sex couples be together, but let’s not call it marriage.”
The legal concept of marriage was created by humankind, with different objectives and consequences in mind depending on the historic context, and just like everything that is man-made, it is exposed to changes as humankind develops. Life itself delimits this concept, never the other way around.
Giving different names to the same thing in essence only emphasizes the hierarchies that really only exist in the heads of people who discriminate, because if love is the foundation of marriage, then every union born out of love is worth the same and should go by the same name.
- “Approving same-sex marriage will lead to the extinction of the human race because two men or two women can’t procreate.”
This almost magical thought omits the fact that procreation isn’t a duty but an option for couples, no matter how they are set up, and it dismisses the fact that “traditional” unions aren’t a guarantee for reproduction either, as Cuba’s low birth rate indicates, which is a problem we are having to tackle today.
People with different sexual identities across the world have found creative ways to create their families: from the simplest, such as agreements between LGBTIQ+ couples who share childcare, to even more complex practices which need the government and healthcare system’s support, such as artificial insemination.
- “A child’s innocence needs to be protected.”
The obsession that so many people have with brandishing the flag of discrimination in the name of children, reflects their own prejudices more than any real interest in protecting a child’s alleged fragility.
Children are sensitive to love, they notice whether it exists in their families or not, without asking about the set-up of this family, until society forces them to face a lack of understanding and violence which difference creates in the hearts of adults.
There are studies which dismantle the most common taboos relating to raising children in LGBTIQ+ families and they confirm that paternity and maternity are not qualities that depend on a sexual orientation or gender identity, but on these people’s ability to build a safe and affectionate home.
After several weeks of the popular consultation process, people who defend the approval of a more just and inclusive concept of marriage in the Constitution, are sure of some things and have quite a few doubts about how it will unfold in history, which Francisco Rodriguez Cruz baptized as the “New ‘68 Revolution” in his blog.
We have firsthand knowledge (through friends, activists, relatives and our own experiences in the neighborhoods and workplaces), that even though Article 68 has been among the liveliest topics in the national debate, dialogue in many of these spaces has ended with people understanding and emphatically supporting same-sex marriage.
We also know that official media (with a few exceptions) has been efficient at repeating homophobic opinions behind the comfortable facade of popular opinion, than providing eye-opening arguments, which help us to understand changes in favor of the LGBTIQ+ community’s full integration into Cuban society.
Until we vote for this new Constitution, the main challenge for those of us who are in favor of same-sex marriage continues to be the same: to find better arguments and to take advantage of every dialogue space to convince even the most skeptical about the humanist beliefs that led to the inclusion of Article 68 in the draft Constitution in the first place.