Thursday, October 31, 2013

Same sex civil unions now approved in Jalisco - but they won't be called marriage

*Nov. 4 - updated content*
Guadalajara -
Despite stiff opposition from center right National Action Party (PAN) deputies, coupled with critical comments and dire warnings by the influential Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Guadalajara, the Jalisco legislature today passed the state's first same sex civil union law.

The vote was 20 to 15, with a single abstention. The bill was introduced six months ago by a deputy of the left wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD)

Today's debate on the legislation lasted more than three hours. In the end the measure was carried by a coalition of center left Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) representatives and far left PRD delegates. PAN was solidly opposed to the bill, with every deputy present voting against it. Only one PRI legislator broke ranks with his party and joined the PAN block.

Men, or women, who wish to avail themselves of the new law will be required to enter into a formal written contract. Such couples will not be allowed to adopt children, although opponents of the bill said the latter likely will prove inevitable as Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court continues to define and expand the rights and legal privileges of gay persons.

"Children who live with homosexuals have more physical and mental problems, and use more drugs than others. This bill is very prejudicial to the welfare of children," argued a PAN deputy today.

Another deputy criticized the latest PRI and PRD alliance on today's civil union vote, saying, "We now have a new party in Jalisco: the Institutional Revolutionary of the Democratic Revolution Party. Both were similarly criticized when they voted together on a package of controversial federal tax laws earlier this month, with some contending that PRD has become a branch of PRI. Peña Nieto two for three on reform packages.

Two weeks ago the official publication of the Jaliscan capital's Catholic leadership suggested that homosexual orientation is a mental illness, calling gays "emotionally unstable." Guadalajara Catholic Archdiocese: legislators should reject Jalisco civil union bill. Today a PRD deputy told the legislative chamber, "We are all children of God. Where is the congruence in the Church's comments?"

The Church had also argued that the bill would create a "third genre of relationships" not historically known to societies or to the law, by in net effect allowing marriage between two men or two women. But supporters said the statute does nothing of the sort, and merely establishes the parameters and procedures for a contractual agreement between persons of the same sex who wish to to live together with legal benefits and protections. Civil unions will not be called or considered marriage in Jalisco.

The Pacific coast state of Colima passed a similar civil union law last summer. Several other Mexican states already allow gay marriage, expressly denominated as such. Most of them acted in obedience to court orders. Yucatán federal court orders recognition of gay marriage.

The nationwide approval of gay marriage by Mexico's Supreme Court is a certainty, despite strong opposition in some provinces. The court has already ruled that homosexuals are protected by human rights provisions implicit in Mexico's federal constitution, as well as by others to which the nation has explicitly subscribed in international treaties and conventions. The remaining legal question is whether civil union statutes like Jalisco's and Colima's will be sufficient to comply with civil rights guarantees as the Mexican high court eventually delineates them, or whether states will have to expressly permit marriage between two men or two women, without substituting the sterile legal terminology of "civil union." Same sex marriage arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court - and at the Mexican Supreme Court.

PRI governor Aristóteles Sandoval supports the bill passed today, and will undoubtedly sign it when it lands on his desk. But he too is opposed to adoption by gay couples. Jalisco governor takes a stand on same sex civil union bill, but it may not win him any points with gays.

Nov. 1 - After yesterday's vote, a spokesperson for the Guadalajara Roman Catholic Archdiocese issued this statement: "Our legislative deputies are leaving us an inheritance we will come to regret."

Nov. 2 - Gov. Sandoval wasted no time. He signed the civil union bill Friday, and it was published in the Jalisco state gazette. It will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. Whether the new law will satisfy Mexico's Supreme Court if and when a same sex couple argues that it didn't go far enough in protecting gay rights, remains to be seen.

Nov. 4 - Archbishop Robles devoted his Sunday homily to the civil union law, telling Jalisco Catholics, "a society which accepts the notion of homosexual marriage and homosexual families has no future." But he praised the law for prohibiting "the risk of adoption" by same sex couples. Robles warned the faithful not to be complacent, saying gay marriage activists will not be satisfied with mere contractual unions and will continue efforts to obtain legal recognition of homosexual matrimony. In words which will not set well with some, Robles added: "As a church, we have the duty to carry a message of love to everyone, without distinction or discrimination. We must love everyone without prejudice, so that they accept their sin."

June 26 - U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage, in a nutshell
June 14 - Mexican Supreme Court rejects HIV discrimination case
Mar. 6 - Mexican Supreme Court: anti-gay comments are hate speech, not free speech

© 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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