Iván Chanis Barahona is a gay Panamanian lawyer who is working towards getting gay marriage legalized in his country. Representing a couple that was legally married in the U.K. and is working to get their marriage recognized in Panama, Barahona is also working a second case that is challenging the country on the laws that keep same-sex couples from marrying.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the summer. The two cases have been rolled into one, and the court will issue just one ruling.
Barahona believes they have a strong case and that if the Supreme Court rules on law alone, they should win. He feels this way since the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recently ruled in favor of Karen Atala, a lesbian who lost her kids to her ex-husband due to her sexuality.
Other cases through Latin America have given Panamanians hope recently.
The Mexican Supreme Court actually cited the Atala case in a 2013 ruling that found an Oaxacan law against same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, filed on behalf of three same-sex couples in 2012 for the right to marry. The president of Chile has also introduced a same-sex marriage and adoption bill.
There is also some political support that is giving Panamanians some hope for marriage equality. Panamanian First Lady Lorena Castillo and Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo are among top officials who openly support marriage equality.
The fight for marriage equality in Panama has opened up the conversation to other issues of discrimination, including against Transgender citizens, HIV/AIDS, and Panamanians of African decent.
With all of the attention these cases, now one, are receiving, same-sex marriage has become part of political platforms for the 2019 elections.
Barahona says the country is ready. People are openly talking about these issues when they were not in the past. He feels the country may finally take a step in the right direction.