Saturday, July 6, 2013

Yucatecans not ready for gay marriage, says chief judge

*Updated July 17*
Mérida, Yucatán -
Mexico, like the United States, has a dual judiciary. State judges here concern themselves with garden variety civil disputes and petty offenses, while federal judges handle serious criminal cases, constitutional issues and matters which may impact the nation as a whole. As in the U.S., federal courts in Mexico are frequently at the vanguard of emerging legal notions on controversial social and political issues, such as abortion and same sex marriage. And just as frequently state courts are resistant to fundamental change, finding it less disruptive to maintain the legal status quo in all.

Mexico is moving rapidly towards national recognition of gay marriage - much more rapidly than the United States, where two landmark cases were decided 10 days ago. The U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage, in a nutshell

In a series of decisions beginning in January 2012, this country's highest tribunal has repeatedly ruled in favor of gay marriage litigants. Mexico's Supreme Court takes another step towards nationwide recognition of same sex marriage.

In April a federal judge in Yucatán did likewise. He could probably read the legal handwriting on the wall. Yucatán federal court orders recognition of gay marriage.

But in candid remarks this week which have already sparked strong reaction, the chief judge of Yucatán's superior court - that's a state tribunal - argued that yucatecos and yucatecan society simply are not ready for gay marriage.

Superior court chief judge Marcos Celis Quintal acknowledged that gay marriage is riding a wave of legal popularity in Mexico, and that the national recognition of same sex unions may prove inevitable. "But in no way are we ready for such a powerful cultural change here," he said during an interview.

Mérida is home to a large contingent of American and Canadian gays. A May 1 article called Mexico "a mecca for gay expats," focusing on the Yucatecan capital. But last year the city's expatriate gay community was shocked by the brutal murders of two of its members. Both were U.S. nationals and both died at the hands of young male prostitutes. "Violence on Yucatán soil" - against foreigners.

Celis said this week that he doesn't believe that laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman are inherently discriminatory, in violation of human rights guarantees in Mexico's constitution - one of the main arguments attorneys here have relied upon to successfully challenge such laws. Federal courts, including Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court, have also expressly rejected the state's alleged interest in procreation as legal justification for statutes restricting marriage to opposite sex persons. (The same argument has often been carried to U.S. tribunals, where it has generally been pronounced DOA).

Judge Celis noted that if gay marriage becomes the law of the land in Mexico, it will raise as many questions as it answers. "We'll have to deal with gay divorce, property rights and obligations in the event of dissolution of the union, adoption by same sex couples and many other evolving issues."

"Whatever the law is ultimately declared to be on same sex marriage, we'll of course respect and obey it, regardless of our personal feelings," said Celis.

Meanwhile, the judge's published remarks have provoked hot controversy among readers of Mérida's Diario de Yucatán.

July 17 - The Yucatan Times reported today that state authorities will not appeal the federal court's April decision. Bottom line: same sex marriage is now officially legal in the state of Yucatán.

Mar. 6 - Mexican Supreme Court: anti-gay comments are hate speech, not free speech
Aug. 17, 2012 - Gay prostitute charged in murder of Mérida professor

July 4 - Putin signs Russian law prohibiting gay foreign adoption
July 4 - Mérida never forgets - even when it should

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

No comments:

Post a Comment