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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 23, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 30
Argentina's President Fernández signs Gay marriage bill
Section One
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Argentina's President Fernández signs Gay marriage bill

by Bob Witeck - Special to the SGN

By good luck and rare timing, I am in Buenos Aires today, July 21, with thousands of jubilant Argentine citizens and a number of American and international LGBT friends and colleagues - and by chance, I was able to attend and to witness the historic signing of Argentina's Gay marriage bill at the Casa Rosada.

Afterwards, with immense serendipity, I was included with a handful of others led by Pablo DeLuca and Gustavo Noguera, with the Argentine LGBT Chamber, along with Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) as well as New York-based journalists Mike Luongo and Mark Chesnut, to stop by President Cristina Fernández's office after the ceremony for what turned out to be nearly a half-hour personal conversation with her and a few of her staff.

With my near-extinct knowledge of Spanish, I was sadly reduced to witnessing this historic private moment as though I was watching a foreign language film without English subtitles. But like some immensely beautiful art films, there are times when words are somewhat powerless because feelings and emotions are so expressive and dominant.

In her office, after her official act was complete, she was captivating, dramatic, ebullient, intense, and embracing - still touched by the poignancy of the signing ceremony itself. After she signed the legislation in the public space downstairs, we witnessed hundreds of the attendees inside the room, and outside as well, begin to press forward to touch her, hug her, hand her flowers, seek photos with her in a throbbing human crush that probably mirrors the passionate nature of Argentinian public life most of us merely know from history or films. It was a scene of such emotion that as a lifelong resident of Washington, D.C., I cannot imagine any such event resembling this scene taking place in the White House or in many executive mansions - simply because of the risk of physical harm alone to the president or others in the pushing, pressing and jubilant crowd on the floor.

Making this evening even more unreal was seeing the painting of Juan Peron on the wall behind President Cristina and over her right shoulder, to see Evita's likeness in oil on the wall to her left, and Che Guevara's image on the wall to her right.

What little I know of Buenos Aires I have learned here in the first 36 hours, and if nothing else, these are among the most passionate people on earth. And tonight, they have every single reason to be.

For full video of this historic signing, visit http://anibalfernandez.com.ar/te-lo-digo-yo/302-matrimoniogay.html.

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