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From International Idea to Domestic Policy: Explaining the Emergence of Same-Sex Partnership Recognition in Argentina and Brazil

  • Author(s): Schulenberg, Shawn Richard
  • Advisor(s): Pion-Berlin, David
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation examines how the international idea of same-sex partnership recognition (SSPR) becomes enacted into domestic policy in Argentina and Brazil. It begins by looking at how the leading LGBT social movements in each country understand and prioritize the battle for same-sex unions. These understandings ultimately determine how far reaching an enacted law may go. Next, it explains what the current constitutional and statutory law is in each nation today and through which avenues it potentially could be changed. The second half of the work systematically compares how the LGBT social movement organizations have engaged with the three branches of government to advance their goals. What it finds is that Brazilian LGBT groups have long had elite allies within all three branches of government, but these leaders have not had the institutional capacity to affect change. In Argentina, on the other hand, all three branches have significant institutional powers to change the law, but lesbians and gays have had a harder time securing friends in these positions. The result is that movements in both countries have not yet achieved success. However, some recent changes in both of these southern cone nations have made SSPR a real possibility: the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court, with new and expanded powers, may soon decide in favor of stable unions for same-sex couples. Moreover, allies in the Argentine Senate are expected to soon approve a bill granting full same-sex marriage rights. The final chapter concludes with a brief look at how the variables identified in these cases function in three other Latin American countries.

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