The advance of gay rights across the United States is spreading into Puerto Rico, making the island a relatively gay-friendly outpost in a Caribbean region where sodomy laws and harassment of gays are still common.
SB 238 is on its way to the House of Representatives. The bill would end employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the U.S. territory. Another bill would extend a domestic violence law to gay couples.
Soon after taking office in January, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an order extending health insurance coverage to the live-in partners of workers in his executive branch of government, regardless of gender. Former conservative governor, Pedro Rossello, surprised supporters and foes when he stated in February that he unequivocally supports gay marriage. “This is extraordinary,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, a Puerto Rican gay activist. “We’ve reached a point of no return in Puerto Rico … Equality is inevitable. Will we see an advancement on the horizon? And will the movement be fueled by the current trends of acceptance?