Making Sense of the Mexico Decision, Ctd. — What is an Amparo?

Jim Burroway

December 6th, 2012

Not to contradict anything that Timothy wrote — he has explained the Mexican marriage decision far more clearly than I ever could — but I wanted to add an answer to a question that maybe some of you asked and others (like myself) didn’t know to ask: What is an Amparo?

It turns out it’s not just any kind of a court case, but a rather special one. Similar to a writ of habeus corpus, which protects an individuals physical liberty,  a recurso de amparo — amparo literall means “protection” in  Spanish — protects all other forms of liberty. (In fact, habeous corpus in Mexico is just one of five specific types of amparos, called an amparo libertad.) Amparos are a particular kind of constitutional human rights complaint challenging an action which conflicts with the Mexican Constitution and/or international human rights protocols. Amparos, as a legal device, were invented in Mexico in the early 1800s, and their use has spread, in various forms, through much of the Spanish-speaking world.

The couples in these three cases filed amparos charging that Oaxaca’s Civil Code was unconstitutional because it excludes gay couples from marriage and that the Congress of Oaxaca had failed to protect their families, a right guaranteed under the Mexican Constitution. Two of the amparos were denied at the lower court level, and one was approved. The cases were then appealed to the Supreme Court, resulting in that court’s granting of these three amparos.

As Timothy pointed out, these decisions apply only to those parties named in these amparos, in much the same way that a writ of habeus corpus applies only to the named parties in the U.S. Which, as I understand it, means that the decision so far applies only to Oaxaca. It takes five consecutive, identical amparos before the ruling becomes universally binding. Already, couples are going to the Civil Registry Office in Toluca requesting marriage licenses and are prepared to file amparos if their requests are denied. But, as Timothy also explained, many local officials may go ahead and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on these decisions. But if two more officials deny a marriage license and those couples file an amparo, we may get the five decisions bringing marriage equality to yet another nation.

Jim Hlavac

December 6th, 2012

Not too long ago in Mazatlan, Mexico, I wound up working with an American man married to a Mexican woman in, um, unhappiness, with three charming blond haired blue eyed daughters to confuse the issue. I found myself learning about Amparos fast. The word gets the lead out of bureaucratic butt, that’s for sure. The mere threat of seeking one gets action, that I found; and I didn’t have a clue what it really was when I first used it.

It turns out there are many types of amparos, and there are many books on the subject — and each seems to have its own peculiar form, i.e. business amparos, land amparos, work place amparos, etc. There’s even an amparo for “cases not covered under the law as written;” with its own 400 page book explaining it. Which was my friend’s case — he was a house husband, his wife required to supply support for him and the children, since he couldn’t work in the country, and she was refusing to pay “husband support,” as I put it. It was rather comical as I had to explain to many the “nueva sexualidad” — the new sexuality.

When there’s no law, or article (since Mexico is civil law you always have to refer to articles of the law first, and previous court cases not so much,) covering a situation, then the person can seek an amparo — gay marriage is very um, amparo-able, for there’s little law on it.

And what seems to be the best thing about them is that they must be accepted to be heard. As long as the right forms are used, a judge has to hold a hearing — and the loser pays the costs. They can be between any two people too, not just a person and the state — and everyone avoids them like the plague.

So if gay folks ask for amparos, they’ll get them. And then, if enough on one subject show up the legislature must conform the laws to the new decision. In a way it’s judicial legislation for what the legislature forgot to do. Yes, nice that gay folks are going to use that tool of the law.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.