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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My people

You may not have heard it, but yesterday, in another part of the world - the home of my ancestry - another step toward equality was made.

Yesterday, Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva said he will sign a law legalizing same-sex marriage passed by parliament earlier this year.

The bill had received parliamentary approval with the support of the governing Socialist Party and other parties further to the left.

During a heated debate in January, Prime Minister Jose Socrates said the law would "put right an injustice that caused unnecessary pain".

But parliament rejected proposals to allow homosexual couples to adopt.

The announcement comes days after Pope Benedict, on a visit to Portugal, told pilgrims who had gathered at Fatima they should oppose the law.

President Silva said vetoing the bill would merely return it to parliament where his decision would be overturned, at a time when MPs needed to focus on the economic crisis facing the country.

"I feel I should not contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only serve to deepen the divisions," he said.

The Portuguese are nothing if not pragmatic - especially about that which they consider fate or destiny. It's not a form of romantic fatalism. You only have to know the music of Fado in order to understand.

Fado is a musical genre of Portugal, with themes that are often about the sea or the life of the poor, which is about fate or destiny.

The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade which means to miss or to long for someone or something. When you listen to the music of Fado, you can hear a mixture of African slave rhythms with the traditional music of Portuguese sailors, with a dash or two of Arabic influence.

My favorite Fado singer is Mariza, who courageously sings about her African heritage - a huge taboo in the Portuguese culture. Indeed, at one time, Fado was illegal for a woman to sing or perform.

She sings Fado, she says, because it is her destiny.

See what I mean?

The ratification will make Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage after Belgium, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Many other countries have introduced civil partnerships, which give lesbian and gay couples some of the rights of married heterosexuals.

My people aren't exactly leading the way on marriage equality, but they know destiny when they see it coming at them, and they aren't afraid to embrace it.

It's odd and ironic to me that the land my grandparents left in order to find freedom and equality in this country is now one of a handful of places where Ms. Conroy and I can find freedom and equality.

Somewhere in heaven, I think my Grandmother is smiling. And, singing Fado.

5 comments:

Bradley said...

This was a very good thing. And when I looked at on of the posting's photo of Benedict XVI, I thought the similarity of Darth Sidious in one of the Star Wars Sci-Fi movies striking.

Paul said...

I was so delighted to read of this yesterday. You have every reason to rejoice in your roots.

Doorman-Priest said...

Incremental steps. Amen!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Elizabeth, I'm proud to say that ancestors from Portugal are part of my heritage. They came to New Orleans by way of Brazil.

Thanks be to God that the Portuguese "put right an injustice that caused unnecessary pain".

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Anonymous: Four words: Sit down. Shut up.