Atheist conducts Puerto Rico’s first gay marriage
Last October, a federal trial judge in San Juan upheld Puerto Rico’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
But all that changed when US Supreme Court judges legalised gay marriage this summer, and Puerto Rico – an American territory – was compelled to scrap the ban.
And on July 17 authors Yolanda Arroyo-Pizarro and Zulma Olivera-Vega, above, made Puerto Rican history when they were joined in matrimony at a secular ceremony conducted by Luis R Ramos. It was attended by 150 family members and guests.
Ramos, above, is Vice-President of Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico (Secular Humanists of Puerto Rico), which will be hosting the island’s first ever atheist convention in August.
Ramos, a lifelong atheist and humanist, said:
Religious dogma and bigotry are very strong in Puerto Rico. After the SCOTUS decision many Christians clergy said they will not be forced to marry gay couples. Some even said that they will tear apart celebrants’ certificates in an act of protest.
Since its foundation on 2011, Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico members have strongly supported the LGBT community
Ramos explained that the group supports the gay community because it exists to promote human rights and to oppose religious bigotry which had led to discrimination on the island.
Last year, in anticipation of a favourable SCOTUS decision, Humanistas Seculares began preparing to offer secular wedding services for the gay community and other atheists and non-believing couples.
The group said:
Many couples feel that a wedding in front of a government judge is too bland and offers no space for a really exciting celebration. So we decided to obtain our secular wedding celebrant certificates.
After the SCOTUS decision, the group received an enormous number of wedding celebration requests, and said it was happy to help the atheist, agnostic, LGBT community and all citizens to have access to non-religious weddings, despite “tantrums” and opposition from the religious majority.
The group is now preparing to conduct a mass same-sex wedding ceremony on the island in August.
While the law may have changed, anti-gay attitudes still have to be overcome. Tight security measures marked the marriage of the lesbian couple at a local French Restaurant, Art D’Çhocolat. Security personnel were in attendance and the windows were protected from vandalism using storm shutters.
Ada Conde, an attorney, activist and President of the Human Rights Foundation of Puerto Rico, was the wedding maid of honour.
Conde and Ivone Alvarez became the first Puerto Rican lesbian couple to marry 10 years ago. They did so in Massachussets when the state’s same-sex marriage law took effect, and last year they lodged a federal appeal against the island’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Earlier this month, Puerto Rico was in the news when police conducted a “faith” blitz on motorists.
• Intro image courtesy of www.rinconimages.com