News

Gay marriage ruling boosts evangelical in Costa Rica vote

Supporters of presidential candidate Fabricio Alvarado with the National Restoration party gather before a live, televised debate ahead of the presidential election in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Feb. 1, 2018. An international court ruling saying Costa Rica should allow same-sex marriage has upended the Central American nation's presidential race, turning evangelical candidate Alvarado, who opposes it, from an also-ran with just 2 percent in the polls into the leading contender in Sunday's vote. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — An international court ruling saying Costa Rica should allow same-sex marriage has upended the Central American nation’s presidential race, turning an evangelical candidate who opposes it from an also-ran with just 2 percent in the polls into the leading contender in Sunday’s vote.

After last month’s decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Fabricio Alvarado, a 43-year-old journalist with a prominent career as a preacher and Christian singer, vaulted to 16.9 percent in a survey published Jan. 31 by the University of Costa Rica’s Center for Research in Political Sciences, or CIEP.

Alvarado’s nearest rivals were Antonio Alvarez of the National Liberation Party with 12.4 percent and Carlos Alvarado — no relation — of the governing Citizens’ Action Party with 10.6 percent. If no candidate tops 40 percent in the vote, the first two finishers advance to a runoff scheduled for April 1.

The same poll showed that just over two-thirds of Costa Ricans oppose the court’s ruling, which also tells the country to grant same-sex couples rights such as the ability to adopt children and receive inheritances and other benefits from their partners.

For deeply Roman Catholic Costa Rica, the gay marriage ruling came as an “external shock” to the campaign, political analyst Francisco Barahona told The Associated Press.

“Fabricio is a young candidate, well-spoken with a good on-camera presence, but he was also the only one who reacted in radical opposition to what the Inter-American Court proposed,” Barahona said. That “put him on the radar for a good portion of the conservative electorate.”

Alvarado has called the ruling a “sovereign violation” and an “external imposition” and even floated the idea of withdrawing from the OAS-sponsored rights court, which is hosted in Costa Rica’s own capital, San Jose.

That won tacit approval from evangelical and Catholic leaders who, while prohibited from explicitly participating in elections in the country, have called on voters to back candidates with “Christian values.”

About 76 percent of Costa Ricans identify as Roman Catholic and 14 percent as evangelical, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Ana Cecilia Sanchez, a 53-year-old office administrator, is one of many who say they are undecided but would not vote for a candidate who supports gay marriage.

“For me the issue of values and principles is very important for all of society, because family is the basis of society. … You ask yourself what will happen to Costa Rica if Christian values are lost,” Sanchez said.

Adrian Pignataro, a political scientist at the University of Costa Rica, said the country has seen a marked erosion in party loyalty and this election has exposed a social divide between secular and religious values.

“It’s not that this division is new, they are values that were there before, but in this campaign they were activated by an event and one party strategically came out in favor,” Pignataro said.

Pignataro sees a parallel to the 2006 election, when voters were polarized by opposing visions on the economy: one that favored opening to the world amid trade negotiations with the United States, and another, more protectionist approach.

Carlos Alvarado, who is not related to Fabricio, is also a young candidate at just 38, a journalist by profession who began his political career as communications director for the Citizens’ Action Party and served as labor minister under current President Luis Guillermo Solis.

Carlos Alvarado’s candidacy has been marred by corruption scandals involving people close to Solis’ government and a lingering deficit problem.

But as the only major candidate openly backing same-sex marriage, Carlos Alvarado also saw his poll numbers rise about 5 percent recently as he attracted socially liberal voters who oppose Fabricio Alvarado’s anti-gay marriage stance.

Alvarez, a 59-year-old agricultural businessman, two-time president of the Legislative Assembly and former Cabinet minister under the first presidency of Oscar Arias in 1986-1990, is running on promises to create 150,000 jobs, decrease the deficit and modernize public transportation.

Alvarez has also opposed same-sex marriage, while supporting the idea of recognizing certain other rights for gay couples.

Lawyer and former Security Minister Juan Diego Castro was a front-runner as recently as December as a tough-on-crime candidate. But he fell to fourth in polls as some voters were turned off by his direct attacks during debates and after the gay marriage ruling in January.

Sunday’s outcome is very much up in the air with more than two-thirds of likely voters undecided, according to the CIEP poll.

“None of them really grabs my attention,” said Berlioth Hidalgo, a 35-year-old cleaning worker who has not yet fixed on any candidate. “In this country it’s only fights, corruption, you don’t know where the money goes, lots of poor children.”

Voters will also be selecting the 57 delegates that make up the Assembly.

About the author

The Associated Press

38 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • (1) QUESTION: “‘You ask yourself what will happen to Costa Rica if Christian values are lost,’ [Ana Cecilia] Sanchez said.”

    ANSWER: Nothing – duh!

    (2) QUESTION: “‘You ask yourself what will happen to [churches] if Christian values are lost,’ [HAD Ana Cecilia] Sanchez said.”

    ANSWER: Dead churches like yours has ended up, am I right? – duh! And, and you’re trying to pin that one on Costa Rican LGTBQs?!

  • Proverbs 14:34ESV
    Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

    Isaiah 60:12
    English Standard Version
    For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

  • Terrible debt problems, economy in disarray, pollution problems in the eco-paradise, corruption, lots of poverty. I’ve been there a couple of times.

    But sure, get the people riled up about two men they don’t know getting married. again, for a certain type of evangelical, it is all about power, money, dominion, and get the gays.

  • bang on.
    again, for a certain type of evangelical, it is all about power, money, dominion, and get the gays.

  • I think it’s more like the Costa Ricans are sovereign citizens (just like the Americans, Russians, and most of the planet).
    And therefore those sovereign citizens don’t like the idea of some fancy outsider “International Court” trying to waltz in and dictate that they now gotta violate their own collective religious beliefs, via legalizing gay marriage. That mess just don’t work.

  • Sure, a free-for-all reading of Isaiah 60 can say what you please, my sister in Christ, but Isaiah 60 is about the Millennial Kingdom of God (the “you” being referred to therein) – as in way in the future still. As in totally inapplicable, irrelevant to the situation right now in Costa Rica. As in these passages:

    “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. … The wealth of the nations will come to you. … [But] the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly ruined.”

    As for your first reminder, I must tell you, I never like Proverbs (on account of that Great Adulterer for God, Solomon), but here you go. This line in Proverbs 14 – “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” – was for ancient Israel. Not present-day Costa Rica.

    Let’s just set the House of the Lord in order, what do you say, sandiwindsor? Never mind the House of Man, Woman and the LGTBQ. The latter, that parallel universe, if you will, ain’t any of us born-again Christians’ business, according to 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 – “What have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.”

    Love the LGTBQs, instead. Care for them, instead. Set them free, instead. Maybe, then, one in a million, they’ll look at us differently. Forgive us, even.

  • Get a load of Ana Cecilia Sanchez’s theological explanation in the article for all the “terrible debt problems, economy in disarray, pollution problems in the eco-paradise, corruption, lots of poverty” in Costa Rica right now:

    “You ask yourself what will happen to Costa Rica if Christian values are lost”!

    Ouch! Sorry, I just bang my head on the brick wall that is my church. Obviously that didn’t help.

  • That fancy outsider international court was invited to rule on the case by the country. One does not use them unless they were planning to hold themselves to its findings.

    Their own collective religious beliefs also involved a long history genocide of non-christian citizens and residents. It is not worthy of respect as an alternative to civil liberties.

  • Yeah. I know. International treaties and agreements mean nothing to people whose religion supersedes everything else. Just ask ISIS.

  • Maybe some folks at the top should have taken more time listening to the religious convictions of the folks lower down, before issuing any invitations to that “international court.”

    It’s obvious now that a lotta Costa Ricans weren’t — and ain’t — really planning on playing along with the gay marriage ruling. (Kudos to ’em!)

    Costa Ricans got historical issues, Russians got historical issues, and *America* got historical issues too. Everybody does. That doesn’t negate their respective religious beliefs/convictions.

  • And, yet, the scripture is applicable today for those who reject Christ. Wonderful – isn’t He?
    I do care for them. I advise them of the precarious position they are putting themselves into so they don’t need to end up in perdition.

  • awww…..gee Tuesday….you went a little overboard, but nice to know I have had such an effect on you. Now, just grow up a bit, will you?

  • Educate yourself to the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Costa Rica is not only a constituate member of both, but felt so strongly about the Court, as to welcome it physically to reside in its capital. CR is also one of a handful of American nations to bind itself to carrying out the decisions handed down by the court. Not all member nations of the OAS (the USA for one) has sgreed to such commitment to the Court. Now the Court has spoken and it is up to CR if it will abide by its treaty obligations or stand as a forked-tongued nation in which no one can trust.

  • Its also clear that the objections had nothing to do with rule of law or how a modern society conducts itself.

    Might makes right, still does not make a position moral, legal or worth supporting.

  • Members of Grrmany’s National Socialist Party did not like having their leaders put on trial at Nuremberg in1945 either.

  • Didn’t there used to be a SandiLuckins who used tobate on the kweers here? Didsheget dovorced and remarried?

  • Just curious, are you that bat-shit crazy woman who thinks that she is the legitimate Queen of England and that E2 is a usurper of her blue-blooded rights? She is also a fundamentalist christianist.

  • A forked tongue evangelical Christian nation in which no one can trust.

    We must be accurate, mustn’t we?

  • Nothing wrong with Costa Rica having the OAS reside within their boundaries. But it was total foolish to tell the OAS Court they would automatically obey every decision right or wrong.

    Now the Costa Ricans are up against an extremist, fanatic OAS Court that thinks it has the right to override any and all Costa Rican religious beliefs & values that it happens to disagree with. Clear violation of national sovereignty there, David.

    (Which explains why the USA ain’t letting the OAS do such mess to the USA.) This situation needs correcting. Time for Costa Ricans to fight back — if they are not too beaten down already by their general circumstances.

  • If only you did let Him make His own choices.
    However, a few days ago, you told us that He does not hear sinners.
    Impossible to get the ‘reporting’ of His teachings more wrong than that.

  • I don’t need to “refute’.
    The onus is on you, to support your strange assertion – if you can?
    Meanwhile, true Christians know that the whole point of Jesus’s mission was (and is) to hear sinners.
    Sinners are exactly who He came to hear.

  • You evidently don’t understand the reason for granting human rights. It is common for the majority in a democracy to discriminate against the human rights of a certain group of people. Human rights guarantee those personal rights in spite of the majority against them. We have that problem in this country now. Evangelicals are trying to pack the courts in order to use the state to enforce their social values. In this way they can change the way our Constitutional rights are interpreted.

  • It isn’t hateful to want to see them in a good relationship with Christ, Tuesday. Why don’t you want that for them?

  • Human rights are wonderful. I try to enjoy a few every day. We all do.

    But gay marriage has never been a human right. Even in 2018, 98% of Planet Earth says flat-out “No” to it, and correctly so.

    Gay marriage is a deep and corrosive inner disaster at all three levels: individual, community, and national. This is an especially fatal move for America, given the many divine blessings and survivals our nation has enjoyed.

    I don’t know if USA evangelicals can successfully “pack the courts” or not. But the first item of business is just to publicly agree with their own Bibles on this issue.

  • (G)ay marriage has never been a human right.

    I’m not sure about other cultures or even historic cultures in other parts of the world, but I do know that many of my brothers & sisters who are indigenous to the Americas (meaning we were the first to arrive in a land with no previous human population) had/have many cultures where the equivalent to today’s LGBTQ folks were accepted and honored among their tribes as two-spirit folk. Often they were the spiritual leaders/authorities in their culture. And they married with the support of their people.

    Gay marriage is a deep and corrosive inner disaster at all three levels: individual, community, and national.

    That trope is an oft repeated lie without an ounce of basis in fact. Current data shows that gay couples in the US actually have more successful stable marriages and a lower percentage of divorce than hetero couples. That is great for individuals, communities and the nation!

  • “…I never like Proverbs (on account of that Great Adulterer for God, Solomon)…”

    Matthew 6:14-15
    …(14)For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (15)But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses…

  • David…..tell the truth here.
    I was brought up with indians and never heard of “two spirited” until the homosexuals tried to push it on the indians.

  • Well, if you’re going to quote Deuteronomy, do include 13, where you are commanded to slay the unbelievers…
    unless that is inconvenient.

  • Jesus wasn’t talking about Adulterous Solomon but “hypocrites” (though Sol would qualify big time):

    “You are not to be like the hypocrites”, Jesus said in verse 5 before those passages you cited, and verse 16 afterward. And so you forgive, etc.

    But since you’re here, please refer me to chapters and verses in the Hebrew Bible as to Solomon asking the God of Israel for “forgive[ness of these] trespasses” of his of the sexual pornographic nature. You can’t, can you?

    I rest my case, Your Honor.

ADVERTISEMENTs