Frank Bruni's article/essay on marriage equality in Portugal: Lessons to be learned:
WHEN she turned 38 last month, Brenda Frota Johnson got a sweet surprise: a formal “happy birthday” from her longtime partner’s mother.
It wasn’t a gift or even a card, just a succinct text message, but even so, it had no precedent over the 10 years that she and her partner, Isabel Advirta, 39, had been making a life and a home here together.
Why this birthday? The two women share a theory.
“Brenda’s now officially a part of the family,” Advirta said recently as they watched their 3-year-old daughter, Salomé, play in a leafy Lisbon park.
Johnson agreed. “It’s because we’re married,” she said. That legal blessing — that loftiest of imprimaturs — has changed little between them but a lot around them.
With minimal international attention, Portugal — tiny, overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Portugal — legalized same-sex marriage last year. Although the country is hardly seen as a Scandinavian-style bastion of social progressivism, it’s one of just 10 countries where such marriages can be performed nationwide, and in this regard it finds itself ahead of a majority of wealthier, more populous European countries, like France, Germany, Italy and Britain. In the United States, only six states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. How did that happen? And what wisdom do the answers offer frustrated supporters of same-sex marriage here and elsewhere around the globe?