Cubans Divided Over Law That Would Allow Same Sex Marriage

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Cuba faces months of intense debate over plans for a new family law that would allow same-sex marriage and surrogate pregnancies.

The island’s socialist government recently presented a draft bill and asked for public comment ahead of a referendum, creating an unusually public clash over policy on the island where Pentecostal churches have been growing.

The proposed measure, called the Código de las Familias or Family Code, has divided the country and drawn fierce opposition from some of its numerous evangelical communities.

Gay couple Adiel González, 31, and Lázaro González, 51, want to marry and are watching the debate closely.

Adiel, a theologian, and Lázaro, an accounting assistant, are both committed Christians and work at the relatively mainstream Evangelical Seminary of Matanzas, about 100 kilometers from Havana.

“We are all sons and daughters of God, and therefore God is love and what we do between Adiel and me is to have a life with love,” Lázaro says.

But Pastor Moises de Prada, the superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, believes the new measure goes against the will of God.

He doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage, and like many of his parishioners, he shudders at the idea of surrogate pregnancies.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of God is one of the fastest-growing Christian movements on the island, claiming more than 2,000 churches and a million followers.

The proposed law has more than 480 articles. It would also formally expand grandparents’ rights, allow for prenuptual agreements and, in cases of divorce, have financial consequences for those who have committed gender violence.

Parents would be able to decide whether children’s paternal or maternal surname has precedence. Children’s rights would be gradually expanded as they grow.

But the biggest controversy is over changing the legal definition of marriage, which currently specifies it is between a man and a woman.

The draft law would also open the way for gays to adopt, and for surrogate pregnancies — though not for payment.

Legally established as a secular state, and after decades of official atheism under Fidel Castro, Cuba now has an increasingly powerful religious community – especially evangelicals whose numbers have grown sharply in recent years.

But not all evangelicals or members of other religious denominations oppose LGTB rights. Some welcome gay couples and offer to bless same-sex unions.

The differences play out in the streets as well.

Carola Reyna, a mother of two children, said she would not like her youngsters to be taught about homosexuality in school.

But Alberto Dausá, a pensioner, said same-sex marriages should be valid in Cuba just as it is in many other parts of the world.

The Cuban government sees the proposed law as a pragmatic approach to reality.

Justice minister Oscar Silveira Martínez told The Associated Press that the measure “does not construct social realities; it tries to foresee legal solutions, protect those social realities that exist.”

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  • In This Story: Cuba

    Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos.

    Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba. The country was a point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and a nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

    Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America.

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