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Cuba Paves The Way For Marriage Equality

Cuba is rewriting its constitution to try and adapt to the modern world and one of the changes will allow for marriage equality on the island. The opening for marriage equality comes in a clever change in the way the marriage laws are worded. Instead of stating that it has to be between a man and a woman, it now says marriage is between ‘two persons’. This would make Cuba one of a handful of countries that have legalized marriage equality, including the United States. There are also considerable economic and social reforms in the constitution as the country moves away from its hardline communist roots to a more hybrid system. It’s nowhere near a total fix of Cuba’s massive problems, but it’s a start.

These changes come at a time of rapid change for Cuba that has had the same ossified government based on Soviet models for 60 years. President Raul Castro, who seized power with his brother Fidel from dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, retired and vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel took over. The lives of the LGBTQ community in Cuba has drastically changed over the last few years due in large part to the efforts of Raul’s daughter Mariel Castro. When my family left the island in 1969, the government was putting LGBTQ people in “reeducation” camps. This was based on the Soviet idea that somehow being LGBTQ was counterrevolutionary. One of my mom’s friends, who was gay, was sent to one of these camps and never returned. My grandparents knew that my teenage aunt was a Lesbian and knew they had to get the hell out of the country before she too was sent to one of these camps. In the 80’s, during the start of the AIDS crisis, people who contracted HIV and gay men in particular were also “quarantined” in such camps.

Some would argue that Cuba was discriminating against the LGBTQ community just to suck up to the Soviets. After all, the Russians still discriminate against the LGBTQ community and have a long history of doing so. But I think it’s more complicated than that. Along with these Soviet ideas came a mix of Latin machismo and toxic masculinity. Believe me, that is still very much alive in the older Cuban community both here and on the island. But as attitudes change and those old people start dying off, you are going to see the lives of the LGBTQ community improve both here and in South Florida.

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