Legislators criticize Sala IV for passing onto them the responsibility on gay marriage

Legislators on Thursday joined in the criticism of the Constitutional Court passing onto them the responsibility of same-sex marriage.

Photo Alonso Tenorio

The ruling of the Sala IV on Wednesday had the rare effect of bringing together in agreement most of the legislators, even it if was to criticize the decision.

The Court declared unconstitutional the articles of the Código de Familia (Family Code) and the Ley de la Persona Joven (Law of the Young Person) that prohibit marriage and the recognition of de facto union between persons of the same sex. However, it decided that – and the reason for the criticism not only from legislators and many others – the rules will remain in effect for a year and a half while waiting for the Legislature to adopt the legislation.

Critical of the Court were legislators of the Liberación Nacional (PLN), Restauración Nacional (PRN), Acción Ciudadana (PAC), Integración Nacional (PIN) and the Frente Amplio (FA). Only legislators of the Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC) considered correct the Court decision to transfer the responsibility to regulate same-sex marriage to legislators.

Carlos Ricardo Benavides, head of the PLN caucus, said Thursday before the plenary that the resolution of the constitutional magistrates “is anything, less clear.” The legislator said that the lack of clarity and forcefulness of the Sala IV prevents the PLN from thinking about an easy resolution of the issue in the Legislature.

“More doubts arise when the magistrate Fernando Castillo (president of the Sala IV) speaks expressly of the possibility that the legislature has a term of 18 months to regulate same-sex marriage or assume a certain figure for a transitory period that is not known what would it be,” said the liberationist.

Meanwhile, over at the Restauración Nacional, a party that opposes same-sex marriage, the attacks against the Constitutional Court were harsher. Legislator Eduardo Cruickshank warned that the term of 18 months that the magistrates fixed will be fruitless due to the radical differences of opinion that exist between the parties.

For Cruickshank, the Sala IV ruling is not legal, but has strong political overtones that he described as a trap for the legislature.

Over at the PIN, Wálter Muñoz, head of caucus, agreed that “there is nothing clear and precise” in the resolution of the Court: “On the contrary, what it did was, basically, pronounce in a confusing, incomplete and move to the Legislative Assembly a controversy that, in reality, does not fall within the remit of the Legislature at this time. We censure that the Court has not acted with clarity and transparency,” he said.

José María Villalta, Frente Amplio legislator, also launched attacks against the Constitutional Court.

The legislator agreed that it is unfeasible for the Legislature to make a decision on the matter in the year and a half of the term granted by the Court and that its members lost the opportunity to resolve a complex case, accepting, without any justification, the possibility of sizing the effects of a resolution on social life.

Enrique Sanchez, legislator for the PAC, criticized the additional validity that was given to the rules declared unconstitutional.

“The resolution of the Constitutional Court opens a window of 18 months, there is discrimination and there are unprotected couples and they continue like this ‘because we feel like it’, because there is no justification for that rule, discriminatory and unconstitutional, to remain in force”, he said in the legislature floor.

Minutes later, Casa Presidencial made official the call for the bill to regulate same-sex marriage. It is a basic text proposed by the PAC, PLN and Frente Amplio in the legislative period 2014-2018. In addition, the proposal regulates aspects of the adoption of minors by same-sex couples.

On Twitter, President Alvarado tweeted,”Our commitment to full equality remains intact.”

Contrary to the opinion of the majority of ‘bancadas’ (party benches), Erwen Masís and Pedro Muñoz, legislators for the PUSC, affirmed that the resolution was legally correct, because, “to which it corresponds to legislate in the country is the legislators”.

“What draws the attention powerfully is that if the issue is already resolved why they (Sala IV) give 18 months to the Legislature to be the one to solve it. So, my interpretation is that there are nuances that are being left at the discretion of the Legislative Assembly,” said Muñoz.

 

 

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