www.ambiente.us DECEMBER | DICIEMBRE 2008
OPEd|We are not equal - the abused second class Americans
by Carlos T. Mock, M.D.
Four years ago we were used as a punching bag.
Twenty referendums were added in twenty states
singling out gay rights so as to turn out the Republican
base. It worked: George W Bush was re-elected and
we lost all but one if the referendums.
This year, an unprecedented turnout of voters went to
the polls and elected the first African American
President, however, gay rights were defeated in
every ballot but one in the country.
We do not view these results as reason for despair.
Struggles over civil rights never follow a straight
trajectory, and the outcome of these ballot fights should not obscure the building momentum for full equality
for gay people, including acceptance of marriage between gay men and women. But the votes remind us of
how much remains to be done.
While Americans received a strong dose of positive change this week, it was not to be for gays and lesbians
in four states. They got more of the same—the same discrimination and nonsense they've dealt with for far
Not all the results for same-sex marriage were negative. In Connecticut, voters rejected a proposed
constitutional convention through which opponents of same-sex marriage wanted to overturn a recent
decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court, on sound equal protection grounds, allowing same-sex couples
Far from showing that California's Supreme Court was wrong to extend the right of marriage to gay people,
the passage of Proposition 8 is a reminder of the crucial role that the courts play in protecting vulnerable
groups from unfair treatment.
Apart from creating legal uncertainty about the thousands of same-sex marriages that have been performed
in California and giving rise to lawsuits challenging whether the rules governing ballot measures were
properly followed, the immediate impact of Tuesday's rights-shredding exercise is to underscore the danger
of allowing the ballot box to be used to take away people's fundamental rights.
No matter That the first African American won Tuesday night, it will be up to the GLBT community to fight its
own battles. While Barack Obama had said that he supports dropping the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and is
in favor of civil unions, he still seems to be following the Republican Party line that marriage was crafted as
an institution that only a man and woman should have access to.
We must all fight our fights: these next four years need to be when the rights of GLBTs become as
inalienable as anyone else’s. When our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are as indisputable as anyone
Whether we have access to the cultural and economic advantages of marriage should not be up for debate.
Whether we can be fired from our jobs, lose our kids or be thrown out of our apartments should not be up for
The time has come for The Bill of Rights’ Fourteenth Amendment: ”All persons born or naturalized in the
United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State
wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities
of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” to be applied to
every citizen in spite of their sexual or gender orientation.
About the Author, Speaker, Activist
Carlos T. Mock, MD
Carlos Mock has published three books and is the Floricanto Press editor for its GLBT series. He was
inducted in the Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame in October of 2007. He grew up middle-class in the
suburbs of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Author: Borrowing Time: A Latino Sexual Odyssey - Floricanto Press 2003.
Nominated for a Stonewall Award by the American Library Association Round Table
Author: The Mosaic Virus - Book release scheduled for January 16, 2007 in Chicago, IL.
Author: Papi Chulo. Nominated for a Lammie from the Lambda Literary Foundation.
Author: Cuba Libre: "Mentirita" Currently working on the history of Cuba from the Santeria's point of view.
Copyright © AMBIENTE MAGAZINE. Do not reproduce without citing this source
OPEd|Executive order signed granting civil rights to GLBT Puerto Ricans and
the right to same sex benefits
San Juan, PR - November 17, 2008.
By Carlos T Mock, MD
Retiring Popular Democratic Party (PDP) governor, Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá, made history yesterday in the tiny
commonwealth-island as he signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination in the public sector against
real and perceived sexual and gender orientation and VIH serostatus; thus increasing the rights of all public
employees and future applicants.
The order, which took effect immediately, orders the Human Resources Office of the Commonwealth of
Puerto Rico to enforce and regulate the directive.
The governor, according to the local sources, based his decision on the 16th Section of the Second Article of
the Puerto Rican Constitution of 1952, that recognizes the: “right of every worker to freely choose his
occupation,” and the first section of the same article that: “recognizes the inherent right to dignity to each
human being and equal protection of all citizens under Commonwealth laws.”
The exiting governor also ordered the Treasury Department to offer medical benefits to non married couples,
known as common law partners, to all employees of the Executive Branch—whether they be heterosexual or
homosexual. The order was confirmed by Ada Conde, President of the local chapter of the ACLU.
Ms. Conde stated that: “three months ago, at the US Democratic Convention, Acevedo Vilá made a
compromise with the GLBT community to issue such order.”
Ms. Conde believes that Governor elect, Luis Fortuño, from the New Progressive Party (NPP) and a
Republican, will honor the order.
Activists were sorry that the executive order did not include discrimination in the social services provided by
the commonwealth, a practice that occurs, according to a Homophobia Study made by the Puerto Rico ACLU.
Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá defended his executive order against discrimination for the GLBT community and for
same sex partner benefits.
The Governor assured the country that his executive order has no “budget implications” and rejected the New
Progressive Party (NPP) Governor Elect, Luis Fortuño’s stance that he would eliminate the order because of
lack of funds.
In a press conference Acevedo-Vilá stated that: “Each public employee receives a per diem to choose a
medical plan which he calculated to be around one-hundred dollars...then the public employee goes and
buys his own insurance.”
He added that he signed the order when he found out that an University of Puerto Rico employee could not
include in his plan his live in girlfriend. The State University does allow it. “He was told that unless he
brought a marriage certificate, the University would not include his girlfriend. This makes no sense since it
will be the employee who will pay for the plan from his own income—it will not cost anything to the
government.” The retiring governor added: “Besides public policy should be about inclusion—if we leave
people uninsured where are they going to end? They will just be an added burden to the Commonwealth’s
The Puerto Rican political climate—Acevedo-Avilá won the 2004 elections by a three thousand vote margin
over two million votes cast, even though his party lost both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
This was attributed, in part by the independent voters who did not want to have Pedro Roselló (PNP) as
governor for his anti gay stances by the NPP.
There was a homophobic incident at the San Juan mayoral contest in 2004, where the PPD candidate was
accused —without any proof—of being gay. The NPP candidate for mayor held several rallies where a “duck”
was plucked because the homosexual slang in the Spanish language is “pato” which literally translates as
duck. For that anti gay stance, many GLBT voters opted for Acevedo-Vilá over Roselló.
Critics of Governor Acevedo-Vilá said that if he wanted to give the GLBT community these rights he should
have issued the order at the beginning of his term, and not after losing the lection. However, this executive
order will force the governor elect, Luis Fortuño, to take a stance on GLBT rights early in his term.
It is rumored that the governor elect, Luis Fortuño—who allied himself during his campaign with the
evangelical churches—is using the budget as an excuse to please his base and cancel the executive order.
This would send a clear message that the governor elect does not believe that GLBT Puerto Ricans are
entitled to the same benefits and protections as the rest of their countrymen.
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