Posts Tagged As: Mexico

Did Chiapas Just Legalize Gay Marriage?

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2016

Mexico Map

Note: Sonora (cross-hatched) had it briefly, but it’s back on hold for now.

Political and judicial processes in Mexico can be pretty inscrutable sometimes. And the political realities of Chiapas adds yet a layer of complexity way beyond what you find in the rest of Mexico. Add to that, this report itself is quite a challenge to my clearly-non-native-speaking Spanish skills (I can still mostly read it, but I can no longer hear it or speak it fluently) and to Google Translate. So let’s give it a try with what I do know. To begin with, let’s get up to speed with what has been going on in the southern state of Chiapas (and also Puebla). Take it away, Rex:

When any law is passed in Mexico and takes effect, there is a 30-day window for specific governmental entities to challenge that law with an “action of unconstitutionality” filed with the full Supreme Court. What Jalisco did is change the legal age for marriage and, in the process, in one sentence of the revised law, it mentioned that marriage is man-woman. This qualified that man-woman language as a “new” law that could be challenged during the 30 days after it took effect. The National Human Rights Commission filed an action of unconstitutionality against the language and the SCJN struck down Jalisco’s ban on same-sex marriage in a unanimous ruling with immediate effect.

The states of Chiapas and Puebla also recently altered their marriage laws — again not specifically having to do with marriage being between a man and a woman — and made the same “mistake” (or perhaps deliberate decision) that Jalisco did. They mentioned in the revised law that marriage is man-woman. Lawsuits were quickly filed with the Supreme Court and are pending.

Given recent Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) rulings, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that it will strike down the newly-revised marriage laws in Chiapas and Puebla as it did in Jalisco.

With everybody able to see the writing on the wall, there has been considerable rumblings in Chiapas that they want to get on the right side of things before the SCJN acts. This article quotes Maria Mendoza, a representative of the indigenous United Chiapas party and president of the State Congress’s Equity and Gender Commission, as giving assurances that an initiative to reform the state constitution and a final draft of changes to to its civil laws will be presented to the legislature “to guarantee legal unions between persons of the same sex.” Citing forthcoming SCJN rulings and President Enrique Peña Nieto’s initiative to reform the federal constitution to legalize same-sex marriage, Mendoza added that the commission was working to gain consensus with other groups in Chiapas, but that in the end “we must comply with a mandate from the Supreme Court.”

This article gets a bit more specific about what the Equity and Gender Commission planned to propose: “By proposing reforms to articles 144 and 145 of the Civil Code, the Legislature would modify the definition of marriage so that is is not a contract celebrated exclusively between a man and a woman, but between two people, independent of gender.” The article goes on the state that this initiative would allow Chiapas to avoid a Supreme Court mandate to change the code in response to the pending “action of unconstitutionality.”

Then there’s this article, the main thrust of which discusses the local Catholic bishop’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Towards the end, it confirms that the Equity and Gender Commission is working to get the marriage equality legislation approved “before the federal reform.”

So we know that something is in the works, which brings me back to that very first confusing article. The title is clear: “(Chiapas) Congress Approves Amendments to the Law For Equal Marriage”. The report goes something like this:

“With 33 votes in favor, Tuesday the LXVI Legislature approved, in general and particular, the dictamen presented by the Equity and Gender Commission on the initiative decree for reforming and adding various implementations to enable the celebration of marriage equality in Chiapas.”

What is a dictamen? Some dictionaries render it as an authoritative report (i.e. expert witness report), and others describe it as a legal opinion, a ruling or a verdict. And so if the legislature adopts the dictamen in a roll-call vote, does that mean that it also adopted the dictamen’s proposals to reform the Civil Code?

Misael Zeñay, writing for the Oye Chiapas website, seems to think so, adding that “the vote was made very quickly, with seven deputies not in attendance, and with the support of the remaining 33 in attendance voting in favor.”

So based on this single report, it looks like this is a done deal. My only problem right now is that this, so far, is the only report that I’ve been able to find in the Mexican media saying that Chiapas legalized same-sex marriage. There may be good reasons for this. The debate and vote was very quick, as Oye Chiapas reported. The session was moved up four hours due to a threat of violent protests which would prevent lawmakers from leaving Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state’s capital. Those protests also incentivised the legislature to hurry up and get out of there, taking just twelve minutes to dispense with all three items on its agenda.

chiapas-marchaUndoubtedly some of those protests (one of which the next day involved the brief abduction of the state Congress’s president and another deputy) overshadowed anything else happening in the state. I can find all kinds of news articles about a massive teacher’s protest that broke out in Tuxtla Gutierrez blocking the main highways and paralyzing the city. Also, a mayor of Chenalhó was forced to resign — that protest led to those abductions I mentioned earlier. And if that weren’t enough, four pregnant women in Chiapas were confirmed to have been infected with the Zika virus.

So there’s a lot going on in Chiapas, and their news media, like ours, can only handle so many big stories at a time. But still — only one published story two days after the deed was done? I don’t know. It looks like something happened, but it looks like we will have to wait and see to know for sure.

Marriage Equality Approved In Colima

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2016

matrimonios-igualitarios-congreso-de-colimaThe Colima State Congress today approved a package of amendments to the state constitution and civil code to provide marriage equality to same-sex couples. The state congress acted on an order by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation to change its local laws to allow same-sex couples to marry in the state. The action today was the culmination of a three-month process of consultations and approvals from the ten municipalities that make up the state. Nine of the ten municipalities approved of the changes.

In 2014, Colima began providing a kind of a registered partnership known as “enlaces conyugales” (conjugal bonds). These partnerships remain valid and can be converted to marriages at the civil registry where they were originally made.

The new marriage equality law goes into effect once it is published in the Official Gazette of the State of Colima.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

Colima becomes either the ninth or tenth state in Mexico to provide marriage equality, depending on how you’re counting. Sonora had been issuing marriage licenses since the first of May, following a series of court orders called amparos. But a Civil Registry official announced on Monday that same-sex marriages cannot be performed because Sonora’s Family Code has not been revised. Until then, he insists that he needs yet another amparo. So while marriage equality had been the law in Sonora, that now appears to be on hold.

Last week, the state of Morelos, located just south of the Federal District (Mexico City) began the process of changing its constitution to allow same-sex marriage. And next Tuesday, the congress for the state of México, which nearly surrounds the Federal District to the north, east and west, will vote on a proposal to allow same-sex marriage.

Mexican Congress To Consider Marriage Equality Reforms In September

Jim Burroway

May 19th, 2016

The Legislative Palace of Sán Lazaro in Mexico City.

The Legislative Palace of Sán Lazaro in Mexico City.

From El Universal, (via my highly unofficial translation, with my comments in square brackets, and your corrections to my translation welcome):

César Camacho Quiroz

César Camacho Quiroz

The PRI’s coordinator in the Chamber of Deputies, César Camacho Quiroz, said the initiative of the Federal Executive on equal marriage, which opens access to this right to gay couples, constitutes a cutting-edge approach and the prority it will have in  San Lázaro [shorthand for the Legislative Palace of Sán Lazaro which houses both chambers of Congress] will be decided in September.

Camacho Quiroz explained that this depends on the Political Coordination Board’s agreeing on legislative priorities for the sessions, and pointed out that in August it is his responsibility as chairman of the collegial body to integrate parliamentary coordinators.

Emilio Gamboa Patrón

Emilio Gamboa Patrón

…The PRI’s coordinator in the Senate, Emilio Gamboa Patrón, said the Executive’s initiative is an advanced project, and a part his group is a clear respect for human rights and freedoms.

“The discussion begins,” said PRI’s Amacho Quiroz, and confirmed that the Chamber of Deputies, as the chamber of origin for this reform, will debate it in a climate of freedom and respect.

Camacho expressed that the project has the support of party members, and stressed that this initiative by the Executive enters with a foundation that touches on liberty and equality in diversity.

… For its part, PAN [the center-right National Action Party] Senate coordinator Fernando Herrera Ávila, said that the Executive initiative includes a right recognized by the Supreme Court Justice of the Nation. However, “we do not know the project itself, and we will analyze it and subsequently establish a position.”

Deputy Marko Cortés, coordinator of the National Action bench in San Lázaro, signaled that federal lawmakers, together with PAN’s CEN [CEN is PAN’s National Executive Committee], will adopt a joint position on “this significant issue.”

Of course, said Deputy Cortés, National Action “is in favor of individual guarantees, freedoms and values,” and his party welcomes the President’s initiative.

Deputy Guadalupe Acosta Naranjo (PRD) [Party of the Democratic Revolution, a center-left/left-wing party which governs Mexico City] expressed that this initiative marks “a cultural change of respect for all freedoms,” and that his party will analyze it to see if, in its opinion, improvements are needed.

The President’s proposal, said the PRD, has its full backing, “on the condition that it does not undermine what we have achieved” in Mexico City, where we have obtained these rights, only to see them contested in court.

Miguel Barbosa Huerta, PRD’s Senate coordinator, signaled that the project marks a paradigm change on the part of the federal government in these matters and are the subject of deep debate.

“It is a moral triumph of leftist governments against conservative opinion, Barbosa said, noting that this opens a great debate “which will lead us to many more things.”

He affirmed, “I hope this reform does not become an object of a political strategy of resistance from social sectors trying to stop it.”

Michoacan in dark green, Morelos in blue.

Michoacan in dark green, Morelos in blue.

On Tuesday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a package of reforms, including a revision to the Mexican Constitution along with changes to the Federal Civil Code to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples. The reforms also provide for updating birth certificates according for gender identity.  While the Mexican constitution has undergone numerous revisions in its 99-year history, I don’t have a sense of how long the process would take. Since that announcement was made, Michoacan became the ninth state to enact marriage equality and Morelos initiated the process to change its state constitution to allow same-sex marriages.

Marriage Equality Arrives In Michoacan

Jim Burroway

May 18th, 2016

MexicoMarriage2016.05.18

provincia_2016518_368310988It looks like Mexico is far more interested in tearing down walls rather than building them. The Congress of the Mexican state of Michoacan today voted 27-0 to legalize same-sex marriage. All seven members of the right-leaning PAN (National Action Party) abstained from the vote. Michoacan becomes the ninth state, in addition to the Federal District, to provide marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Michoacan is located on the Pacific Coast between Guerrero to the south and Jalisco to the north, both of which have also legalized marriage equality. It’s capital, Morelia, was declared a U.N. World Heritage Site for its preservation of colonial-era buildings.

5a0d41da-e942-4d82-96cf-fee4b5dac3daMeanwhile, the state of Morelos (shown in blue on the map) has taken its first step toward marriage equality when it approved a state constitutional reform package to provide marriage equality. The vote 20-6, with the PAN lined up in opposition followed a particularly noisy debate. The reforms now go to the state’s 33 Ayuntamientos (regional governments) for ratification.

Morelos is located just south of Mexico City, with Cuerenavaca as its capital. It has always been a popular getaway for Mexico City residents, and is slowly becoming something of a bedroom community for the congested capital. It boasts a long list of impressive museums, botanical gardens, a famous hacienda that once belonged to Hernán Cortés, impressive Tlahuican ruins (complete with a preserved Aztec-influenced handball court) and a dizzying array of magnificent churches. I can’t say I’ve traveled all that extensively in Mexico, but I can say that of all the places I visited, Cuernevaca is by far my favorite. I’m thinking it would make a pretty awesome wedding venue and honeymoon destination.

Changing Mexico’s Constitution for Marriage Equality: What’s At Stake

Jim Burroway

May 18th, 2016

Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto

Yesterday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced four initiatives aimed at bringing marriage equality across the entire nation and promoting LGBT rights around the world. One of those measures would also allow changes to birth certificates to accurately reflect trans people’s gender identity. The first initiative, which bears close watching as it is the one most likely to engender a dangerous backlash, would amend Mexico’s constitution.

According to yesterday’s announcement:

An initiative to reform Article 4 of the Constitution was signed to clearly incorporate the judgment of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation which recognized as a human right that people can marry without discrimination.

That is, that marriages are made without discrimination based on ethnic or national origin, disability, social status, health conditions, religion, gender or sexual preference. Thus, equal marriage would be explicit in the Constitution.

Article 4 is, a rather wide-ranging set of clauses whch can be summed up as a kind of an equal rights article. This is the full text of Article 4, in a translation provided by UNAM (The National Autonomous University of Mexico, the country’s most prestigious universities) (PDF):

Article 4

Men and women are equal under the law. The law shall protect family organization and development.

Every person has a right to decide in a free, mature and informed way, the number and spacing of their children.

Every person has a right to receive medical treatment when deemed as necessary. The law shall not only define the guiding criterial regulating access to health services but also establish concurrent activities to be carried out by the federation and the states in organizing public health services under article 73, paragraph XVI of this constitution.

Every person has a right to live in an adequate environment for her development and welfare.

Every family has a right to a dignified and decent household. The law shall establish all regulations and incentives deemed to be necessary to achieve such a goal.

Children’s needs to nourishment, health, education, recreation and integral development shall be fulfilled.

Ascendants, tutors and guardians shall be obligated to enforce the aforementioned rights. The States shall provide whatever deemed as necessary to uphold both children’s dignity and the enforcement of children’s rights.

The State shall help out private individuals in enforcing children’s rights.

Anti-gay groups in Mexico have claimed that the sentence about “protect family organization and development” precluded allowing same-sex marriage, but so far the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Mexico’s highest court, hasn’t seen it that way. One can also imagine that several other clauses dealing with “a dignified and decent household” and children’s “integral development” could be spun by anti-gay groups as well. So in that sense, Peña Nieto’s proposal to clarify Article 4 would certainly do the trick.

But it seems like it could be a daunting task. Not because it’s so rarely done — Mexico’s constitution has undergone numerous substantial changes in its 99-year history, the most recent in 2011 when the right to food was inserted into Articles 4 and 27. (By the way, while the process of changing the Constitution is referred to as an amendment, Mexico’s Constitution is actually changed by the process. It does not carry a series of amendments like the U.S. Constitution.) The process for amending the Constitution is found in Article 135:

This Constitution can be amended or reformed by two thirds out of the attending members of Congress at the respective session. Such amendments and reforms shall be valid when ratified by the majority out of the State Legislatures. Either the Congress or the Permanent Commission during congressional recesses shall compute the State Legislatures votes and declare the approval of the respective amendments and reforms.

So, two-thirds of Congress and half of the Sates need to approve. When one looks at the partisan composition of Congress, at least that part looks doable:

Pena Nieto’s party and allies control about half the seats in both houses, and the measure could also pick up support from the leftist opposition Democratic Revolution Party.

As for the states, eight of the 31 states, and the Federal District, already have marriage equality. (The Federal District, which was the first jurisdiction to approve marriage equality in 2009, doesn’t get a say when amending the Constitution.)  Seven of those eight states completed the process under their own initiative. Only one was forced to do so by the Supreme Court. Peña Nieto’s ruling PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) holds 19 of 31 governorships and 20 state legislatures, which means that at least from the standpoint of party control, that also looks doable.

But the entire process still bears watching. I don’t know how fast all of this can happen, but Peña Nieto’s term ends in 2018, when Mexico will elect a new President and Congress. And it’s not clear to me how much input Peña Nieto will have in the actual wording of Article 4, although I suspect it could be substantial. That will bear watching. And I don’t know to what extent this move could open the doors to anti-marriage mischief.  We can be assured the Catholic Church in Mexico will play a big role. And there’s no doubt that several American anti-gay groups will see an opening to expand their influence south of the border. Mexico’s politics have always been complicated, its legal system more so, and transparency has never been its strong suit. Fun times ahead…

Mexico’s President Proposes Federal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages and Gender Identification

Jim Burroway

May 17th, 2016

Los Pinos, the official office and residence of the President of Mexico.

Los Pinos, the official office and residence of the President of Mexico.

One important way to understand how a few things are supposed to work in Mexico is to recall that the country’s official name translates as the Mexican United States. This refers to the fact that like here in the U.S.A., Mexico’s system of government is designed to work on a federalist model, with some powers reserved for the national government, and some powers reserved for the states. Their lines on which powers go where are drawn differently than here in the U.S., but in one way they are the same: only states can regulate what constitutes a valid marriage. The federal government’s role, like in the U.S., is limited to deciding what marriages the government will recognize. Mexico’s federal government cannot mandate marriage equality nationwide, nor can it prohibit it. It can, however, make perfectly legal and valid same-sex marriages irrelevant with regard to what gets recognized at the federal level.

And so as was the case in the U.S. under the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred our federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage even in states where those marriages were legal, Mexico’s Federal Civil Code also bars the national recognition of same-sex marriage even in the eight of Mexico’s 31 states, plus the Federal District, where same-sex marriage is legal.

There are only two mechanisms by which the federal government can impose same-sex marriage on the states. The first involves a very lengthy multi-year long process by which the Mexican Supreme Court can strike down marriage restrictions in each individual state, but it can only do that one state at a time, and even then it can only do that if it reaches the same conclusion five times in a row in five individual states. The Supreme Court has already done this a number of times, and has more or less ordered lower court judges to do the same when similar cases are filed in their jurisdictions. The second method is via a constitutional amendment, which rarely happens and is fraught with political peril. For example, marriage equality opponents could hijack the process to impose a national ban on same-sex marriage.

With all of that taken together, this announcement that was posted to the Presidential web site seems so important. Here is a highly unofficial translation:

The President of the Republic, Enrique Peña Nieto, led the ceremony of the National Day of the Fight Against Homophobia, at the residence of Los Pinos.

“I reaffirm my Government’s commitment to non-discrimination and building a Mexico, like you, Ari also said so, truly inclusive, where all people can exercise their rights fully.”

…He submitted proposals to the Secretariat of the Interior [which formally presents the president’s bills to Congress — JB] and the National Council to Prevent Discrimination, so that together with the competent agencies, they can analyze each of the proposals and, where appropriate, take necessary actions to address them.

The first package of reforms sent to Congress stemming from the recommendations of the Dialogues for Everyday Justice, calls for the identification and reform of Mexican legal standards including discriminatory content.

From this, four presidential determinations were derived:

First. An initiative to reform Article 4 of the Constitution was signed to clearly incorporate the judgment of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation which recognized as a human right that people can marry without discrimination.

That is, that marriages are made without discrimination based on ethnic or national origin, disability, social status, health conditions, religion, gender or sexual preference. Thus, equal marriage would be explicit in the Constitution.

“I do it with the conviction that the Mexican State must prevent discrimination for any reason and to ensure equal rights for all people.”

Second. An initiative to reform the Federal Civil Code was sent to ensure equal marriage. So that it can be carried out without discrimination among people over 18 years, in line with what already establishes the General Law on the Rights of Children and Adolescents.

This reform proposal modernizes the language to avoid discriminatory expressions which still exists in the Federal Code. It also contemplates that consulates, in its role as Civil Registry Judges, can issue new birth certificates to recognize gender identity.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs received directives to take the necessary steps so that, in the passport application process, it will recognize and accept, without any distinction, birth certificates which register a change in gender.

Third. The Legal Counsel of the Federal Executive, together with the institutions that participated in the Dialogs for Everyday Justice, are to identify any other federal, state or municipal law which could involve some form of discrimination, in accordance with the criteria of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.

For this determination to be democratic and inclusive, a micro site on page of the Presidency of the Republic will open to receive citizen proposals. These will be analyzed by the Ministry itself, CIDE and the Institute of Legal Research of UNAM (the National Autonomous University of Mexico), in order to propose the necessary legal changes needed to eliminate discrimination.

In the case of local or municipal regulations, it will inform those authorities of those levels of government of proposals to initiate a reform process.

Fourth. Mexico, as an actor with global responsibility, will be part of the Nucleus Group on Homosexual, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex Persons of the United Nations, in which 19 countries from different regions are involved, and which promote human rights internationally.

“Today, as we are here witnessing, having this meeting is very important in the evolution, that as a society we are taking a step. That the Government of Mexico has the conviction and wants to promote, and want to really ensure that in our country all and all Mexicans, regardless of their social status, religion, sexual preference, their ethnicity, no matter what his condition, has the opportunity to be fully realized, and has a chance to be happy.”

Marriage in Mexico – update and Jalisco victory

Timothy Kincaid

January 26th, 2016

Map Mexico statesMexico’s same-sex marriage status is complicated.

Marriages occurring anywhere in the country are recognized throughout. So, since December 2009 when Mexico City legislators voted for marriage equality, same-sex couples could travel to the capital and have their relationship recognized upon their return.

However, other than in six states, locally conducted same-sex marriage is illegal. But these are not laws without a solution. A couple can go to court and request an amparo (a sort of civil rights ruling) which states that the law is unconstitutional and which would allow that couple (but only that couple) to marry.

The outcome is assured; the Supreme Court has established that all such efforts result in approval of the marriage. So any same-sex couple can marry in any state – though it takes a lawyer, about $1,000, and a month to go through the legal process.

Additionally, after five identical amparos have been granted in one state, precedent is set and that state then will recognize same-sex marriages without any need for additional amparos. So for about $5,000 per state (about $125,000 total) and less than a year, marriage equality could be universal across the nation. Considering that in the US the legal battle cost tens of millions of dollars, this is a bargain and activists are implementing a plan to grind through the ampero process.

Meanwhile states are individually chugging along towards equality, some through non-amparo means. Currently Mexico has six equality states (out of 31):

Quintana Roo (Cancun) – In December 2011, local officials realized that the law did not mention the gender of those seeking marriage and that there was no restriction on same-sex couples.

Coahuila – In September 2014, Coahuila became the first state to enact marriage equality by means of legislative vote.

Chihuahua (Juarez) – By mid 2013, the required five amparos had been issued. The state legislature did not act, and couples asked the Supreme Court to order the state to comply. So as to avoid such a ruling, in June 2015 the governor announced that the state would no longer enforce the unconstitutional law.

Guerrero (Acapulco) – also in June 2015, the governor of Guerrero announced that it would not enforce the marriage ban. This was proactive as the state had not processed five amparos. The governor has presented a bill to the state legislature to change the law.

Nayarit – In late December 2015, the legislature voted 26 to 1 in favor of marriage equality.

Jalisco (Guadalajara) – today. This one is a pinch more complicated. Whenever a state law is published in Mexico, opponents have 30 days to file an action of unconstitutionality with the federal courts. Jalisco had recently made an unrelated change in its marriage laws and had republished the marriage code. This opened a window in which activists could challenge the limitations as to gender. The Supreme Court heard the case and today ruled 11 to 0 that Jalisco’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Guerrero legalizes same-sex marriage

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2015

guerrero

The state of Guerrero (Acapulco) in Mexico has announced that it will no longer enforce its ban on same-sex marriages.

In real terms, this means that Guerrero will not enforce the ampero process which requires the first five couples in a state to hire a lawyer, go to court, and get official permission to marry.

Marriage equality comes to Chihuahua

Timothy Kincaid

June 11th, 2015

chihuahua

Although Chihuahua is perhaps known most for a tiny dog, it is actually Mexico’s biggest state – roughly the size of Michigan – placed alongside New Mexico and Texas. It is also the latest Mexican state to lift all restrictions to same-sex marriage. (proceso badly translated by google)

The government of Cesar Duarte Jaquez decided not to put more obstacles to marriages between same sex and from now on married couples who request them.

Chihuahua joins Quintana Roo (Cancun) and Coahuila (the state to Chihuahua’s east also bordering Texas) as states in which marriages are now immediately available. In the remainder of Mexico, couples may still need to go to court to get an amparo (civil rights ruling), but the outcome of the ruling is assured to be positive.

Marriage licenses now a certainty across Mexico

Timothy Kincaid

June 5th, 2015

mexico fireworks

Mexico has a complicated judicial system, particularly when it comes to civil rights. Rather than single marriage rulings that apply broadly to all citizens, individual couples get an amparo which relates specifically to their case. However, once five amparos have been issued in a state, precedent is established and then marriage equality has reached that state.

Or something like that.

Well it now appears that the rule of five also applies on a federal level. (Buzzfeed)

The Supreme Court and several lower courts have already ruled in almost every state that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the Mexican constitution. But because of the Mexican court system’s often confusing technicalities, none of those decisions have been binding in future cases. Theoretically, any court could rule against a couple who has sued for the right to marry even though there have been many cases decided in favor of others couples.

That is no longer true. On Wednesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued the first blanket statement that laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying are unconstitutional in every state — what is known as “generic jurisprudence.”

This is not the first time the court had resolved a case with that exact sentence. But Colima is the fifth state in which the court had used this language, and five is a magic number in the Mexican system. Along with rulings from Oaxaca, Baja California, Sinaloa, and the State of México, the Colima ruling forms a new “generic jurisprudence” binding on judges issuing rulings in all the states of Mexico.

This does not necessarily mean that marriage licenses will now be handed out by every jurisdiction across the nation, but it means that every legal challenge will now have the same result. Perhaps it can be seen as a technicality that sets a two step process for obtaining a marriage license.

But as each state reaches five amparos (which are now assured) that state will be obligated to issue licenses. Or, in other words, the sixth same-sex couple to marry in a Mexican state will not have to go through the step of a legal challenge. And some states already have reached this threshold.

It may be that we can now say that same-sex marriages are now available across all of Mexico – though perhaps not yet full equality.

Coahuila legislature votes in marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

September 2nd, 2014

coahuila
Telesurtv

The Congress of Coahuila, a northern state in Mexico, approved same sex marriages on Monday.

The legislators modified more than 40 articles of the State’s Civil Law to give all the rights and obligations of a heterosexual marriage to homosexual couples.

Before the reform, marriage in the state was defined as the union of a man and a woman in order to procreate.

With the changes, the article now states that marriage is “the union between two people with the possibility of procreating or adopting.” said the local congressman that promoted the reform, Samuel Acevedo, according to EFE news agency.

Coahuila is the first of Mexico’s 31 states to enact marriage equality. The Federal District acted similarly in 2009, and in 2011 in the state of Quintana Roo, a local judge pointed out that the local law made no mention of the gender of marriage participants. And two other states are part way through a lengthy judicial process which would find the ban on same-sex marriages to violate the constitutional rights of citizens. Marriages conducted in any Mexican state or the Federal District are recognized throughout the country.

Until 1836, Coahuila included the territory that is now Texas.

Two more Mexican states have same-sex marriages

Timothy Kincaid

December 30th, 2013

Mexico’s position on marriage equality is a convoluted one. Same-sex marriages may be conducted in Mexico City and in the state of Quintana Roo, but are recognized across the nation.

One state bans same-sex marriage, a few others offer civil unions, and the rest are in a sort of flux.

A year ago the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the civil right of marriage. However, the amparo process is not that of a single universal decision; rather, it speaks specifically to each case and, absent any contrary decisions, eventually and cumulatively gains the weight of law.

Now two more states have contributed to that on-going process, Jalisco and Chihuahua (ai!). From CNN Mexico (with a miserable Google translation)

Zaira de la O and Martha Sandoval will give you the “I do” before a judge in Jalisco on Saturday, becoming the first gay couple in a civil marriage in this state.

The Jalisco Civil Code does not provide for marriage between same sex couples get married but after the fourth Civil District Judge Material, granted them under.

and Diario (equally bad translation)

Accompanied by family and friends, Marco Quiroz and Jaime Villaseñor Gándara Salcido, were married on Friday at 18:00 in the city of Chihuahua. Judge who married in the Registry Office of Chihuahua, explained that because District judge ordered an injunction that marriage promoted by the parties and by the authority conferred by the State, the said united in marriage. “With all the rights that the law gives them, but also with all the obligations that it provides for married “both nodded at each word judge and became the first same-sex marriage in the state of Chihuahua.

It appears that there are four more couples in Chihuahua who wish to marry. If I understand the process correctly (and I don’t claim to), if each is granted an ampara, marriage equality becomes law in that state.

Violence-Plagued City in Mexico Elects First Gay Mayor

Jim Burroway

July 18th, 2013

Benjamín Medrano Quezada (via Facebook)

Voters in Fresnillo (pop: 110,000), in northern Mexico’s violence-plagued Zacatecas state, have elected a new mayor. Benjamín Medrano Quezada, of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), will become Mexico’s first openly gay mayor when he is sworn into office. He won on a campaign aimed at building a new wastewater treatment plant, ending the drinking water shortage, improving roads and basic services, and addressing problems with the city’s troubled police force. Those concerns are far more pressing than anything else right now:

He said Thursday he won’t challenge the Catholic church, or advocate for gay marriage or adoption. Medrano instead says he’ll focus on more pressing issues, like professionalizing and vetting the city’s police force.

“It’s not like I’m going to paint town hall pink,” Medrano said.

SCOTUS ‘rules’ marriage legal in Mexico

Timothy Kincaid

February 18th, 2013

Mexico’s legal system is complicated, especially when it comes to matters of civil rights. Earlier this month, we reported that the Supreme Court of Mexico had declared that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights to marriage as heterosexual couples. Today they clarified the basis of their thinking.

Oddly enough, it was the US Supreme Court: (Buzzfeed)

The historical disadvantages that homosexuals have suffered have been well recognized and documented: public harassment, verbal abuse, discrimination in their employment and in access to certain services, in addition to their exclusion to some aspects of public life. In this sense … when they are denied access to marriage it creates an analogy with the discrimination that interracial couples suffered in another era. In the celebrated case Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court argued that “restricting marriage rights as belonging to one race or another is incompatible with the equal protection clause” under the US constitution. In connection with this analogy, it can be said that the normative power of marriage is worth little if it does grant the possibility to marry the person one chooses.

As they address the Windsor and Perry cases this spring, let’s hope that the Supreme Court rules as wisely in the US as the Mexico Court has found its rulings to be in Mexico.

Marriage update – North America

Timothy Kincaid

January 25th, 2013

It’s getting marriagey all over the place. And it’s also getting hard to keep track of what is going on where. So here is an update to help (which will probably be outdated by the time I hit “publish”).

North America:

Canada – Marriage has been equal since 2005.

Mexico – Marriage is equal in Mexico City, and marriages conducted there are recognize throughout the nation. However, in December, the Supreme Court unanimously found that an anti-gay marriage law in Oaxaca was unconstitutional. Due to Mexico’s complicated legal system, this means that marriages are highly likely to eventually be legal throughout the nation, but the process requires that five same-sex couples in each state file an amparo (civil rights claim) and that the court issue the same ruling on each. It may take some time for the legality of the state by state process to catch up, but the reality is that any Mexican couple wishing to marry probably can, either immediately or through petition.

United States – Several locales provide or have provided marriage equally:

  • Massachusetts – 2005 2003
  • California – 2008, but rescinded that year
  • Connecticut – 2008
  • Vermont – 2009
  • Iowa – 2009
  • New Hampshire – 2010
  • The District of Columbia – 2010
  • New York – 2011
  • Washington – 2012
  • Maryland – 2012
  • Maine – 2013

In addition, two Native American tribes, the Coquille in Oregon and the Suquamish in Washington provide marriage equally to their members.

Current and upcoming movement on the marriage front includes:

* DOMA3 – several federal courts have found the federal prohibition on recognition of legally married same-sex couples – the Defense of Marriage Act, Section 3 – to be unconstitutional on several grounds. The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear one case, Windsor v. the United States, a case in which Edie Windsor was assessed in excess of $300,000 in inheritance tax from her wife’s estate, a tax that does not apply to heterosexuals. On Tuesday, the special counsel for the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (at the direction of House Speaker John Boehner) filed its arguments in defense of the law (I’ll try to get an analysis up soon). It argued that BLAG has standing to support the law, that only rational basis should apply to anti-gay discrimination, that the nation needs uniform recognition, and that states should be allowed to decline to offer equality if they so choose (thus, I assume, vetoing other states in the name of uniformity). Today Professor Victoria C. Jackson will, at the court’s request, filing a brief insisting that BLAG has no standing and on February 26th, Windsor’s team will present arguments as to why she should not be discriminated against. Oral arguments before SCOTUS will be on March 27th, and the Court will likely release it’s ruling in June. Whichever way it goes, it will probably only impact couples in states which allow marriage.

* Proposition 8 – this is the highest profile case, but it could end up having the least legal effect. In 2008, the California Supreme Court found the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage to be a violation of the state’s constitution. For several months, same-sex couples could legally marry, but in November the voters approved Proposition 8 by 52%, ending marriage equality in the Golden State. In May 2009, Ted Olson, one of the most prominent Republican attorneys and David Boies, one of the most prominent Democratic attorneys, teamed up to fight for the legal overturn of that proposition. In January 2010, though cameras were banned from the courtroom, the nation was captivated by the reporting about the case – a trial not only on the legality of the proposition but also on its merits. Federal Judge Vaughn Walker eventually found the proposition to violate the US Constitution on broad grounds. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, but on much narrower grounds: that a state cannot provide a right to all citizens and then take it away from a select few. Last month the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal, but added the question as to whether the proponents defending the law (the Governor and Attorney General declined to do so) have standing. On Tuesday the proponents of the law filed their brief (I’ll try to get an analysis up soon). Olson and Boies have until February 21st to respond, and oral arguments will be on March 26th with a likely result in June. While the Court could find that the US Constitution guarantees marriage equality across the land, it could also choose to narrow its ruling to the unique issues of the case and only impact Californians.

* Rhode Island – on Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the marriage bill. The full House voted in favor today 51-19. However, the Senate is less certain. Although Rhode Island is virtually a single-party state (the Senate has 32 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent), the Senate President, Teresa Paiva-Weed, is an opponent to equality. She has said that she will allow a committee to hear the matter, but in times past she has made certain that committees were selected to prevent equality.

I have started a petition at Change.org to request that should Paiva-Weed obstruct or block the passage of this bill, that Rhode Island State Senators remove her from power. Please go sign this petition.

* Illinois – a marriage bill was submitted during the first week of the year in a lame-duck session. Due to difficulty in corralling members returning from holiday, the vote never took place.

After the new legislature was is session, the bill was reintroduced. Currently the status is a bit in limbo as the bill is yet to be sent to committee.

However, that does not mean that there is no excitement, just that it’s happening outside the legislature and in an unexpected arena. The GOP chairman has come out in favor of marriage, which has angered social conservatives in the state. Bit though they are demanding his resignation and threatening ouster, the party insiders are lining up behind the chairman. At the moment it seem like the prevailing position may end up, “we may not support equality, but we support those who do.” In any case, this latest public squabble serves our community well.

* Minnesota – fresh off a victory in turning back an anti-marriage bill in November, Minnesotans for All Families is fighting on and will present a marriage bill to the legislature next month. The political strategist who generaled the battle is staying on to finish the war.

Polls are breaking even in the state and the DFL (Democratic) party has a slim lead in each house, so they will have their work cut out for them. But I would be surprised if the state did not take some movement towards couple recognition.

* Colorado – supporters filed an everything-but-the-name Civil Unions bill which is pretty much guaranteed to pass. More than half of each house has signed on as sponsors. This is as far as that state can go at present, as there is a state constitutional ban on equality.

* Wyoming – out of pretty much nowhere and flying way below the radar, lesbian Sen. Cathy Connolly has file both a domestic partnership bill and a marriage bill. Both have significant Republican support.

They may not be attracting much buzz on these bills due to party power; Republicans dominate both houses by overwhelming numbers. But Wyoming Republicans are traditionally pretty libertarian in their thinking and local papers are mostly quoting the bills’ Republican cosponsors. It may be early yet, but so far there doesn’t appear to be any visible organized opposition. I would not be altogether shocked if one of the bills passed or, at least, got a decent vote.

* New Jersey – the legislature of this state has already passed a marriage bill which was vetoed by the governor. However there are the paths to equality that might be achievable.

One is to take it to the people. But though a supporter brought such a bill, it was quickly dismissed due to the inherent insult of voting on a minority’s civil rights. (Personally, I’d rather win at the polls that fight over whether its an insult to do so.)

The second path, the one favored by equality leaders in the state, is to continue building support one by one until we have the numbers to override a veto. That would require substantial Republican support and this would be held off until after the next primary to minimize conservative backlash.

The third possibility doesn’t appear likely, but it shouldn’t be written off. Governor Chris Christie is a politician, and politicians are susceptible to evolution.

Christie made his mark in the Republican Party by being hard nose on fiscal issues but being more progressive on social issues. He was the poster boy for supporting civil unions, a position that made him seem ahead of the curve. As the Party moves away from anti-gay hostility, he may find it necessary to move as well. It’s not a bet I’d take, but it’s not outside the realm if possible for the Governor to hold to his views but still find some way to allow marriage to become law.

* Hawaii – I’ve no idea why marriage hasn’t already become law.

I think it can be hardest sometimes in states in which one party dominates. In mega-red states, we have little hope (though i just made a case for Wyoming). But in all-blue states, its not always much better. There’s no reason for Democrats to show the voters the difference between them and Republicans, so they fell less pressure to live up to their potential.

I’m sure I’ve missed some state in there. And, of course, you have to always expect that something completely unexpected will happen.

Tomorrow I’ll try to provide an update for Europe and South America.

UPDATE:

Yesterday, a state representative in Hawaii filed a bill for marriage equality. She had no cosponsors. Also yesterday, 15 representatives filed a bill calling for a constitutional amendment banning equality. It was also introduced in the senate. Additionally, a state senator filed a pair of ‘take it to the people’ bills which would have voters choose to either allow or ban marriage in the constitution (he’s an opponent of equality). All in all, it looks dire for marriage in Hawaii.

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