Thursday, May 30, 2013

The San Juan Daily Star: Governor Signs Gay Rights Bills Into Law | Aponte Calls Immigration Reform Statehood for Illegals


May 30, 2013 - The San Juan Daily Star 

has exclusive New York Times News Service in English in Puerto Rico

Governor Signs Gay Rights Bills Into Law


Gov. Alejandro García Padilla on Wednesday signed into law the two bills 
that would broaden gay rights in 
Puerto Rico.
He was also slated to sign legislative reform into law, but did not do so immediately 
on Wednesday. He signed the laws during a 
ceremony at La Fortaleza with lawmakers and 
other offi cials.
The Senate in a voice vote on Tuesday 
passed House Bill 488, which extended Law 
54 domestic violence protections to all kinds 
of couples, including gay partners. The upper 
chamber concurred with House amendments to 
Senate Bill 238, which prohibits discrimination 
on the job on the basis of sexual orientation.
House Bill 488 was passed without a debate except for brief remarks made by Sen. Ramón 
Luis Nieves, who authored Senate Bill 238.
Nieves said the bill sought to clarify the 
original intent of Law 54 when it was created 
in 1989 to shelter all sorts of people in a relationship, without any distinction.
The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) senator recalled that the purpose of the law was 
invalidated by a Puerto Rico Supreme Court 
decision that excluded the application of the 
statute to same-sex couples.
“[The move] was to correct the misinterpretation of Law 54 and to add that it applies to couples 
irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity and immigration status,” Nieves said.
The vote was not unanimous when it 
came to Senate Bill 238. Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. María de Lourdes Santiago voted against the bill because she said the House 
amendments watered it down. The House eliminated the job discrimination ban from the Youth 
Bill of Rights, the Civil Rights Law and the Veterans Bill of Rights. She said the changes allow for 
continued discrimination against gays.
“If the Senate concurs today with the 
mutilation of Senate Bill 238 that was done 
by the House, we are sending the message to 
the gay community that it is permissible to, 
let’s say, ask a lesbian couple at a restaurant 
to leave, but if one of them tries to get a job, it 
could not be denied,” she said.
Senate President Eduardo Bhatia said 
that while the bill was not what everyone expected, it was still a huge step toward equal 
rights for everyone.
Starting today, nonetheless, discrimination 
on the job against gays will be criminalized.


Aponte Calls Immigration Reform Statehood for Illegals

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