Monday, October 7, 2013

Jalisco governor takes a stand on same sex civil union bill, but it may not win him any points with gays

After his comment about domestic unions, political enemies may accuse the guv of Yearning for Zion

Guadalajara -
Mexico is on an irreversible course towards recognition of gay marriage, which will probably occur sooner rather than later. When it does happen, it will be by judicial decree, not by uniform legislative enactment at the federal level. To some extent, that process mirrors legal developments on the issue in the United States. Same sex marriage arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court - and at the Mexican Supreme Court.

The difference is that Mexico's highest tribunal, the Supreme Judicial Court, has chosen to look at gay unions from a human rights perspective, as a core legal guarantee implicit in Mexico's federal constitution. The judicial ministers made that clear in a ruling on Dec. 5, 2012, and in several appeals from state courts they have directed local marriage registrars to issue licenses to same sex couples. Mexico's highest court moves towards nationwide recognition of gay marriage.

The highest court in the United States, it should be noted, did just the opposite in its landmark June 26 decision on same sex unions, ruling in one of two major cases that the issue was up to each of the 50 states to decide. A majority of American jurisdictions still prohibit gay marriage, but it is a steadily shrinking majority. Some predict that a majority of the nine justices will eventually rule that same sex unions enjoy inherent constitutional protection, the course which Mexico's highest court has already boldly charted. The U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage, in a nutshell.

Some Mexican states have simply given up resisting the idea of gay marriage, convinced that it is a legal inevitability. Yucatán did so three months ago, when officials decided not to litigate the issue further. Yucatán federal court orders recognition of gay marriage. Not all in officialdom were pleased with that decision. Yucatecans not ready for gay marriage, says chief judge.

Other states are just trying to dodge the political hot potato, which pits the state squarely against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The Mexican Church carries vastly more authority than its counterparts in many countries, although a fraction of what it did with earlier generations of Mexicans. But it remains a formidable social and political force in a way which most Americans and Europeans cannot fully appreciate. As a theological matter it is still completely opposed to same sex marriage.

So some Mexican states have opted for the middle ground of same sex civil unions, which will not be called marriage. Several U.S. state legislatures have considered the same approach.

The Pacific coast state of Colima, just to the southwest of Jalisco, has already chosen the civil union escape route, and Jalisco's Institutional Revolutionary Party controlled legislature will almost surely follow suit within the next few weeks.

Today Jalisco's PRI governor Aristóteles Sandoval said he favors the pending bill. "I respect individual liberty, and the right of everyone to live under the same roof with whomever they choose, in the form of relationship they choose, be it two or more persons." No doubt Gov. Sandoval will now be accused by conservative National Action Party (PAN) deputies of advocating plural marriage . . . or worse.

But that wasn't the potential landmine Sandoval planted. He quickly added that he is opposed to any change in the "nature of marriage" - a traditional stance which distinguishes him from many fellow PRI politicians - and that he would resist any effort to allow adoption by a homosexual couple. That issue remains in hot dispute between proponents and opponents of gay marriage - but Sandoval has an ally in Moscow. Putin signs Russian law prohibiting gay foreign adoption - with some nasty comments.

Note: The main bill now before Jaliscan legislators which would establish same sex civil unions is being advanced by a deputy of the left wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). Despite erroneous reports in the Guadalajara press - English and Spanish - that the measure is anti-discriminatory in purpose, it has little if anything to do with such. Legislators are well aware that same sex marriage is on the way, and they're simply trying to side step the issue with a middle ground solution, as did the state of Colima recently. Whether such an approach will survive legal scrutiny by Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court, and afford a constitutionally legitimate detour around gay marriage, is yet to be seen.

Oct. 19 - Guadalajara Catholic Archdiocese: gays are "emotionally unstable"
Oct. 31 - Same sex civil unions now approved in Jalisco - but they won't be called marriage

Related content
Aug. 2 - U.S. State Dept. will grant marriage visas to gay partners
June 14 - Mexican Supreme Court rejects HIV discrimination case
Mar. 6 - Mexican Supreme Court: anti-gay comments are hate speech, not free speech, and are not legally protected

Sept. 28 - Mexican Supreme Court establishes U.S. style property division rules in divorce cases

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

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