- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
The big political news in the U.S. today is that President Obama has finally "evolved" — with a push from Joe Biden — into supporting same-sex marriage. Obama is still sticking with a states-rights position on this issue and is unlikely to push for action at the federal level, but as Uri points out, if the United States were to legalize gay marriage, it would be the 11th country in the world to do so. It would be the third in the Western Hemisphere after Argentina and Canada. (It’s also legal in Mexico City. Plus, Uruguay and Brazil both recognize civil unions.
Obama’s change of heart probably wouldn’t impress anyone in Argentina, where full marriage for same-sex couples has been legal since 2010. Today, the country went a step further:
Adults who want sex-change surgery or hormone therapy in Argentina will be able to get it as part of their public or private health care plans under a gender rights law approved Wednesday.
Senators approved the Gender Identity law by a vote of 55 to zero with one abstention and more than a dozen senators declaring themselves absent — the same margin that approved a "death with dignity" law earlier in the day.
It gives people the legal right to officially change their gender without having to go to court for a judge’s approval, and obligates health care companies to provide them with surgery or hormone therapy on demand.
Other countries, including neighboring Uruguay, have passed gender rights laws, but Argentina’s "is in the forefront of the world" because of these benefits it guarantees, said Cesar Cigliutti, president of the Homosexual Community of Argentina.
Treatments related to gender changes will be included in the "Obligatory Medical Plan," meaning that both private and public health care providers will not be able to charge extra for the services.
Sex reassignment surgery is covered by a growing number of health plans in the United States, but it’s pretty remarkable that a bill like this didn’t get a single no vote in a 92 percent Catholic country.