Brazil’s São Paolo extends the freedom to marry to same-sex couples
December 20, 2012
Yesterday, the Brazilian state of São Paulo announced that same-sex couples in the state will soon have the freedom to marry, and that all notaries in the state would be required to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. São Paulo now joins Bahia and Alagoas as states in Brazil where same-sex couples can marry without additional obstacles.
The situation in Brazil with regard to the freedom to marry is somewhat complicated. As it stands now, same-sex couples throughout Brazil can join together in a "stable union," similar to "civil union" in the United States, which provides same-sex couples some protections and responsibilities but denies them the dignity and respect of marriage. Throughout the country, couples in "stable unions" may petition judges, asking to convert their union into a marriage. Hundreds of Brazilian couples have taken advantage of this two-step process in order to get married in the country.
Now in São Paulo (and Alagoas and Bahia), couples no longer have to clear that first hurdle of having a stable union and petitioning for it to be converted into a marriage. They may now go directly to the court registry and request a marriage licenses.
The first "stable union" between two men to be converted into a marriage occurred on June 27, 2011. Same-sex couples have been able to join in stable union since May 5, 2011, after an order from the Supreme Federal Court.
The state of São Paulo includes the city of São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, seventh most populous city in the world, and home of the largest annual Pride celebration. Over 40 million people live in the state, including nearly 20 million people in the capital.
Brazil is on a slow but steady path toward granting the freedom to marry to all loving and committed couples in the country, without obstacles like the stable union and petition requirement. Eleven countries around the world currently have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.