Brazil's National Council of Justice [official website, in Portuguese] on Tuesday ruled [resolution, in Portuguese, PDF] that notaries public cannot refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in Brazil. The decision follows legislation in Argentina and Uruguay, which both legalized same-sex marriage in recent years. The ruling, entered on May 14 and effective May 16, prohibits authorities [press release, in Portuguese] from refusing to perform same-sex marriages, register same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, or convert same-sex civil unions into marriages at the couple's request. There is an opoprtunity for a judicial appeal to Brazil's highest court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal [official website, in Portuguese].
This ruling makes Brazil the fifteenth country to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. The issue continues to be controversial both in the US and internationally. Earlier in May, same-sex marriage legislation was approved in the US states of Minnesota, Delaware and Rhode Island [JURIST reports]. Last month France's Parliament approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. All that remains is for the bill to be cleared by the nation's Constitutional Council and signed into law by President Francois Hollande. Also in April Ireland announced it would hold a referendum [JURIST report] on same-sex marriage. In March, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Windsor [JURIST report], the second of two cases the court heard that week on same-sex marriage. In that argument, the court considered the validity of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive], a federal law that recognizes only opposite-sex marriages for federal benefits purposes, despite state law on the issue.