May 17, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Puerto Rico Senate committee holds adoption bill hearing
Pedro Julio Serrano, NGLTF, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Puerto Rico, San Juan, LGBT equality, adoption, gay news, Washington Blade

Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force testifies in support of a Puerto Rico adoption bill on Friday, May 17 (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A Puerto Rican Senate committee on Friday held a hearing on a bill that would extend second parent adoption rights to gays and lesbians in the U.S. territory.

“This Assembly must recognize the rights of minorities, even if this recognition is unpopular,” Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said during the Puerto Rico Senate Judiciary, Security and Veterans Committee hearing on Senate Bill 437 that Sen. Mari Tere González López of Mayaguëz introduced in March. “Our democracy is based on the protection of those minority groups from the possible abuse of the majority.”

The hearing took place nearly three months after the territory’s Supreme Court narrowly upheld a ban on gay second parent adoptions in response to the case of Dr. Ángeles Acosta Rodríguez who sought to adopt the child her partner of 25 years, Dr. Carmen Milagros Vélez Vega, conceived through in vitro fertilization.

The dozens of SB 437 hearing supporters who attended the hearing gave Vélez a standing ovation at the end of her testimony.

“Us three are a Puerto Rican family, one among many,” Vélez said as Acosta and their 12-year-old daughter, Juliana María Acosta Vélez Vega, sat next to her. “We are here, not for the sake of receiving special treatment, nor to seek a privilege, but to present ourselves as citizens and daughters of this country and to ask for that which is granted to Puerto Rican families and children, the right to a family and the protections that that includes.”

Representatives of the Psychological Association of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Mental Health and Addiction Administration and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice are among those who also support of SB 437. The Archdiocese of San Juan and other groups remain opposed to the measure.

Carmen Milagros Vélez Vega, right, her partner, Ángeles Acosta Rodríguez and their daughter, Juliana María Acosta Vélez Vega testify in support of a Puerto Rican adoption bill on May 17. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Carmen Milagros Vélez Vega, right, her partner, Ángeles Acosta Rodríguez and their daughter, Juliana María Acosta Vélez Vega testify in support of a Puerto Rican adoption bill on May 17. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The SB 437 hearing took place a day after the Puerto Rican Senate approved a sweeping bill that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and government services.

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla supports both SB 437 and the non-discrimination measure that Sen. Ramón Nieves Pérez of San Juan introduced in January.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Monday signed two executive orders that ban anti-LGBT discrimination against the Puerto Rican capital’s municipal employees and mandate the city’s police department to equally enforce the island’s domestic laws regardless of the alleged victim’s sexual orientation.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

2 Comments
  • I live in the USA & have often read on the horrific tragedies the LGBT community has endured throughout the years. It is good tob read that the Government in PR has finally progressed to equally protecting all citizens and working towards equality for all! NOW LETS SEE IT ENFORCED!

  • Madalyn N. Pope

    same sex couples should be allowed the same opportunities as other couples. They raise children that are just as happy and healthy as other kids. It is not fair for them to be denied the right to a family.

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