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Costa Ricans Split over Gay Marriage Vote for Next President


National Restoration Party presidential candidate Fabricio Alvarado greets supporters during a rally in San Jose, Costa Rica, March 31, 2018.

An evangelical pastor who has capitalized on opposition to same-sex marriage was in a tight presidential race in Costa Rica on Sunday against a novelist and former cabinet minister.

Fabricio Alvarado went from also-ran to leading candidate after he came out strongly against a call by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for Costa Rica to allow same-sex marriage.

His opponent, Carlos Alvarado of the governing Citizen Action Party, has openly backed allowing gays to wed.

Recent polling showed the candidates - who are not related - in a statistical tie heading into the vote. They were the top vote-getters in a first round election in early February.

The two share similarities beyond that last name. Both have backgrounds in journalism and both have recorded music - Fabricio Alvarado as a gospel star and Carlos as a college-age rock'n roller.

Though lacking major party backing, Fabricio Alvarado enjoyed high name recognition, especially in evangelical circles, and for working on one of the country's main TV newscasts.

Carlos Alvarado is a novelist and former labor minister.

Both candidates have opted for economic advisers who take a conservative approach to economics, maintaining the free market and reducing the size of government.

Rodrigo Lopez, 45, said Fabricio Alvarado would be his choice because Costa Rica should maintain its traditional values and he's tired of the ruling party's corruption.

Maria Rodriguez, 32, said she supports Carlos Alvarado because she rejects his rival's homophobic discourse and does not believe he is qualified to be president.

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