Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lesbian couple wed today in Guadalajara, where Jalisco gay marriage rules are a morass of legal inconsistency

The first same sex marriage in the state's 190 year history

Guadalajara -
Six weeks ago the Jalisco state legislature passed a civil union bill which will allows gay couples to enter into contractual arrangements with all the legal benefits and attributes of traditional heterosexual marriage, without being called that. It was signed immediately by PRI governor Aristóteles Sandoval, and will take effect on the first day of 2014. Same sex civil unions now approved in Jalisco.

Gay marriage remains technically illegal in Jalisco - a state often called the cultural heart of Mexico - where Guadalajara's powerful archbishop, Francisco Robles Cardinal Ortega, has urged Catholics to pray for gays so that they "accept their sin." During the legislative debate on the civil union bill two months ago, Church prelates here suggested homosexuality is akin to mental illness. Guadalajara Catholic Archdiocese: gays are "emotionally unstable".

But despite the express limitations of the new law, Zaira Viridiana de Gómez and Martha Sandoval Blanco were married at high noon today by the Guadalajara Civil Registry, Mexico's equivalent to the marriage license bureau in thousands of U.S. counties. They made legal history as the first same sex couple ever to wed in Jalisco - the ninth state admitted to the Mexican Union, on Dec. 23, 1823. Zaira and Martha gained the right to marry only after filing suit in a federal court, which ruled in their favor in a decision suggesting the new Jalisco law may be at least partially unconstitutional - by not going far enough in protecting homosexual couples.

The couple first applied for a marriage license in March, but their paperwork was immediately rejected by local officials who relied on article 258 of the Jalisco Civil Code, which provides as follows:

"Marriage is an institution of public character which advances the larger interests of society, by which a man and a woman decide to share their lives in search of personal fulfillment, and as the foundation of a family unit." The opposite gender restriction language is typical of marriage statutes in most Mexican states, as it is in the majority of U.S. states (34). U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage.

Zaira and Martha then filed an amparo proceeding in federal court to test the constitutional validity of the state's definition of marriage. The trial judge ruled in their favor, based upon an expanding body of legal precedent which has been handed down over the past year by Mexico's highest tribunal. Same sex marriage arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court - and at the Mexican Supreme Court.

Jalisco authorities appealed the adverse ruling, but their arguments were dismissed by a higher court on procedural and technical grounds. On Nov. 28 the court issued Zaira and Martha a writ of amparo - an order directing the local marriage registrar to wed them just as if they were a heterosexual couple. The couple is also pursuing a complaint before the Jalisco Commission on Human Rights, which has not yet issued an opinion in their case.

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. Same sex marriage has been lawful by statute in the Federal District (Mexico City) since 2009.

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 (neighboring Colima has an identical one) 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 using the sterile legal terminology of "civil union."

Another provision of the new Jalisco law remains untested as well. It prohibits child adoption by same sex couples - a provision likely to be struck down sooner or later by the Supreme Court, as Mexico continues to grapple with 21st century relationships in a nation where the Roman Catholic faith and solidly entrenched sociocultural traditions yet exert powerful political influence. Yucatecans not ready for gay marriage, says chief judge.

Dec. 15 - News sources reported today that Zaira and Martha were married four hours earlier than planned, because conservative groups had threatened to disrupt the noon wedding. "It's a victory for us, and for the entire lesbian community," said Zaira after the ceremony. "We had a long battle."

Dec. 5 - U.N. selects Mexico's Supreme Court for prestigious Defense of Human Rights Award
Oct. 7 - Jalisco governor takes a stand on same sex civil unions
Sept. 28 - Mexican Supreme Court establishes U.S. style property division rules in divorce cases
June 14 - Mexican Supreme Court rejects HIV discrimination case
Mar. 6 - Mexican Supreme Court: anti-gay comments are hate speech, not free speech
Feb. 2 - Gay alliance charges Yucatán legislature has shelved its petition for approval of gay marriage
Dec. 5, 2012 - Mexico's Supreme Court takes another step towards recognition of gay marriage
Oct. 4, 2012 - U.S. court rules against gay deportee, finding evidence of "fundamental changes in the treatment of gays in Mexico"
May 4, 2012 - Gay marriages will be recognized in Quintana Roo

© 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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