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Mexico’s Supreme Court Rules States Must Recognize Gay Marriage

By: Pep Balcárcel - @PepBal - Jun 16, 2015, 9:33 am

EspañolGay marriage in Mexico is now effectively legal throughout the entire country, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling quietly issued on June 3 and made public on Friday, June 12.

The court’s decision makes it clear that any law that considers the purpose of marriage to be “procreation, and/or defines it as a union between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.”

While the order does not abolish existing state laws banning same-sex marriages, it allows gay couples to turn to district courts individually. Judges are now obliged to grant gay couples a marriage license if they file an injunction with the court disputing the local ban.

LGBT groups in Mexico are celebrating the Supreme Court's landmark decision for gay marriage rights.
LGBT groups in Mexico are celebrating the Supreme Court’s landmark decision. (Lord Kian/Flickr)

The first effort to expand marriage rights to same-sex couples came in 2000, when Enoé Uranga, a progressive Mexico City congresswoman, introduced a civil-union bill in the local legislature.

The bill, however, stalled due to the influence of the conservative Head of Government of the Federal District Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

It was not until November 16, 2006, under the administration of progressive Alejandro Encinas, that Mexico City passed the Cohabitation Law. The legislation went into effect in 2007 and recognized certain legal claims for all couples living together, regardless of sex, such as inheritances, Social Security benefits, subrogation, and child custody.

In 2009, the same state legislature reformed its Civil Code, legalizing gay marriage and granting same-sex couples adoption rights. At the time, only the National Action Party (PAN) and the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVE) opposed the bill, while five legislators from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) abstained.

A Long Battle

While the Supreme Court has previously ruled in favor of individual same-sex couples, enabling them to receive an injunction and get married, very few of Mexico’s 31 states have legalized gay marriage within their jurisdictions.

Since the 2009 landmark law when Mexico City became the first Latin-American jurisdiction to allow gay marriages, strong opposition has emerged to counter the move. In the past, both the PAN and PRI parties have attempted to collect enough signatures to have the law declared unconstitutional.

The Catholic church in Mexico has also called for its repeal. At the time, the Archdioceses of Mexico called the law “immoral” and said “the Church does not condemn people, but [does condemn] homosexual acts and the marriage of two same-sex individuals.”

However, in 2010, the Supreme Court upheld the federal district’s law and declared same-sex marriages in Mexico City valid throughout the entire country.

In May 2015, several groups under the banner of  Todos Por la Familia (All Together for the Family) marched and collected signatures against a similar gay-marriage bill in Chihuahua.

LGBT Celebration

Several LGBT associations and Mexican civil-society groups have welcomed the Supreme Court’s latest decision on the issue. “It’s a historic step toward recognizing the rights of the sexual-diversity community,” the National Council to Prevent Discrimination celebrated in a press release.

Beyond marriage rights, the Supreme Court’s ruling also forbids any policy that “discriminates against someone on the basis of sexual orientation.”

Translated by Daniel Duarte.

Pep Balcárcel

Pep Balcárcel is a humanities student at Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala City and a PanAm Post intern. He has colaborated in Guatemalan media and published collections of poems and short stories. Follow @PepBal.