HAVANA TIMES — Francisco Rodriguez Cruz, a journalist for Cuba’s official weekly periodical Trabajadores, is an ardent defender of gay rights in Cuba. His personal blog, Paquito el de Cuba, attempts to convince a conservative and male-chauvinistic leadership of the need to be in step with the times.
Below is our translation of his latest blog entry, dealing with the recent legalization of gay marriages in Florida.
Cuban Homosexuals Now Entitled to Marry…In Florida
Francisco Rodriguez Cruz
On January 6, following an intense legal struggle that met with much resistance from Florida authorities, same-sex marriages were finally legalized in the US state that is geographically and emotionally closest to our country, to the benefit of Miami’s large Cuban community.
This is good news for my lesbian and gay Cuban friends living in the United States, whom I congratulate and wish a rewarding life together, now enjoying a legal framework that empowers them in terms of inheritances (in the event a partners passes away), the exercise of their faculties as fathers or mothers, health and work insurance matters and other forms of social recognition stemming from their family ties.
Getting here was not easy. The federal judge who overturned the prohibition on same-sex marriages in Florida in August of last year, calling it unconstitutional, was faced with an emergency petition from State authorities requesting that he delay his decision until December, when the Supreme Court of the United States was to announce it would not forbid same-sex marriages in the State, and later had to neutralize an attempt to assemble a judicial association aimed at restricting the application of the ruling to the county where the initial petition was submitted.
But they ultimately overcame these obstacles and, to the joy of those of us involved in activism for sexual rights in Cuba, Florida became the 36th state in the union to legalize same-sex marriages.
It is still too soon to predict or assess the cultural and political impact that this development will have on the rest of Florida’s population and Cuban society as a whole, but, without a doubt, the legalization of gay marriage in the United States can and should help impel everything we do to secure greater recognition for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and intersexuals on the island.
Regrettably, many Cuban homosexuals immigrated to the United States (some against their will) in the 1980s as a result of the homophobia and discrimination they suffered in our country, and not exclusively because of economic or political reasons. Today, many of them travel to Cuba frequently and even take part in Cuba’s Days Against Homophobia, organized to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17, to offer their support and express their satisfaction over the positive changes that have been taking place in Cuba in areas of education and social policy, now more inclusive of the LGBTI community.
From what I am told by many friends and attentive reading, I do not believe that Miami’s Cuban community is any more or less prejudiced in sexual diversity issues than our own. The intense and fluid contacts between the island’s population and Cuban émigré community in the United States, both increasingly supportive of the re-establishment of peaceful and respectful relations between the governments of the two countries, could also lead to a mutual learning process in terms of respect towards different sexual orientations and gender identities.
Such an exchange would indeed be beneficial for those in our country and among certain decision-makers in the government who still hesitate, refuse to accept scientific knowledge or hamper these processes because of their prejudices, faced with the pressing need to modernize our social laws, approve a new Family Code that legally recognizes same-sex couples, pass legislation on gender identity, criminalize discrimination on the basis of homophobia and other reasons and broaden the concept of marriage under the constitution.
While this happens, we are happy to know that Cuban lesbians and gays can now marry…in Miami, at least.