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Tuesday, June 16, 2015
How Mexico Quietly Legalized Same-Sex Marriage
In the U.S., the Supreme Court's widely anticipated ruling on same-sex marriage has been the focus of nonstop speculation and debate. In Mexico, meanwhile, the highest court effectively legalized same-sex unions this month with a decision that was so low key many failed to notice.
Mexico's Supreme Court quietly published an opinion, known as a jurisprudential thesis, ruling that defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman is discriminatory and in violation of Mexico's constitution.
While the court did not explicitly say that same-sex unions were legal, the decision is seen as having that effect. And this month's ruling follows a number of court decisions in the past year that pointed in the same direction.
Until recently, it has been extremely difficult for same-sex couples to be wed in Mexico, as Victor Manuel Aguirre and Fernando Urias know all too well.
Speaking by phone from their home in Mexicali, just across the border from Calexico, California, Aguirre says the couple tried four times in the past two years to marry at city hall.
Each time they were confronted by protesters, hostile local officials, and legal obstacles. They finally took their case all the way to Mexico's highest court, which ruled in their favor. They were wed back on Jan. 17.
"After so much troubles," Aguiree says with a laugh.
Fernando Urias says the ruling is not perfect, but "it will be much easier and much faster than it was for us. Now couples won't have to do all we did."
Couples denied marriage licenses can now directly appeal to local judges who will be bound by the Supreme Court ruling and must force local clerks to issue the license.
"No judge can exclude same-sex couples from marriage in any part of the country," says Estefania Vela Barba, an associate law professor in Mexico City.
She says the Supreme Court justices particularly objected to state laws that determined the purpose of marriage as procreation. Vela Barba says the court ruled such statements as incorrect and discriminatory.
"So for all purposes, there is no reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage because they can perform what marriage is about ... helping each other out," she says. npr