Posts Tagged As: Mexico

Morelos Lawmakers Approve Constitutional Changes To Enact Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2016

Map, Mexico

via @MorelosCongreso on Twitter

via @MorelosCongreso on Twitter

Such is the nature of Mexico’s famously opaque political machinations that it’s really hard to tell what’s really happening. The Congress of the state of Mexico was due to meet yesterday evening to formally validate a package of state constitutional changes to provide full marriage equality. But when religious anti-gay protesters took over and occupied the Congress’s Plenary Hall, lawmakers convened in an alternate location and ratified the constitutional reforms.

Changes to the state’s constitution requires either tacit or active agreement from the majority of the states thirty-two Ayuntamientos (local governments or municipalities). Municipalities can either vote for, against, or abstain from voting. If an ayuntameiento abstains from voting, then that vote is taken as a yes vote. Taken this way, seventeen votes would be needed to defeat a constitutional change. According the tally adopted by the state congress, there were 12 votes in favor, 15 against, and 5 effectively approved by not voting officially.

According to the official tally released by the Congress of Morelos, ayuntamientos officially registering their approval were: Cuautla, Emiliano Zapata, Huitzilac, Jantetelco, Jiutepec, Puente de Ixtla, Tetecala, Tlaquiltenango, Totolapan, Yautepec, and Yecapixtla. (Note: I only count 11 ayuntamientos listed in that tally.)

The ayuntamientos officially registering their disapproval of the measures were Amacuzac, Atlatlahucan, Ayala, Coatlán del Río, Jojutla, Jonacatepec, Miacatlán, Temoac, Tepoztlan, Tetela del Volcan, Tlalnepantla, Tlaltizapán, Xochitepec, Zacatepec, and Zacualpan de Amilpas.

The ayuntamientos that did not submit their decisions “in a timely manner,” according to the Congressional bulletin, were Axochiapan, Cuernavaca (the state’s capital), Mazatepec, Tepalcingo, and Tlayacapan.

According to several conflicting reports, marriage equality opponents charged that Mazatepec and Tepalcingo (and some add Ocuituco, which doesn’t appear on any of the above lists even though it is one of the 32 ayuntamientos) had also voted against the constitutional reforms. If true, that would have raised the “no” vote to seventeen (or eighteen) and killed the reforms. They also accuse the state Congress’s Secretary of Legislative Affairs of “manipulating” the outcomes of the Ayuntamiento meetings to precent a “no” vote.

Members of the conservative National Action Party say they will challenge the constitutional changes in court. Legal changes open a thirty-day window in which the changes can be challenged before the Supreme Court Justice of the Nation (SCJN), Mexico’s highest court. Members of Family Network, an evangelical anti-gay group, say they will launch an appeal.

Social Conservatives In Morelos Mobilize To Block Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2016

Map, Mexico

The news earlier today that the Mexican state of Morelos is about to enact marriage equality for its LGBT residents has brought anti-gay activists out of the woodwork to try to block the pending changes to the state’s constitution.

Earlier reports stated that eighteen of the state’s thirty-three Ayuntamientos (local governments) had approved the constitutional reforms needed to allow equal marriage for same-sex couples, meeting the minimum threshold of seventeen jurisdictions needed to approve any changes to the state constitution. It appears that the tally of actual vote taken to support the reform package were 12 in favor, and fifteen against. However, with six Ayuntamientos not voting, their votes automatically default to “yes” votes, which brings us to 18-15 in favor of marriage equality.

I’m seeing conflicting and confusing reports all over the place, but it appears that equal marriage supporters in the state Congress say that they have received minutes from all the remaining Ayuntamientos except for the city of Ocuituco. Even if Ocuituco rejected the reforms, they would still pass 17-16.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 2.51.51 PMBut anti-gay activists representing Catholic, Evangelical and Mormon groups, as well as the conservative National Action Party (PAN) allege the state Congress is rushing ahead of a July 3 deadline for the remaining Ayuntamientos to submit their results. (I don’t know where that deadline comes from. Congress approved the reforms on May 18, and what I’m reading says that Ayuntamientos have one month to reject or approve the reforms.) Opponents also allege that both Mazatepec and Tepalcingo are in the “no” camp. If so, that would result in a 16-17 defeat. They also accuse the state Congress’s Secretary of Legislative Affairs of “manipulating” the outcomes of the Ayuntamiento meetings to precent a “no” vote.

The state Congress is scheduled to meet today at 7 p.m. local time (Central time in the U.S.), when it is expected to release a report declaring that the proposed constitutional reforms have been approved.

Same-sex marriage is effectively legal throughout Mexico. In nine states and Mexico City, same-sex couples only need to obtain a marriage license using exactly the same process as opposite-couples use. But in Mexico’s remaining twenty-two states, same-sex couples need to hire a lawyer and undergo the time consuming and expensive process of obtaining a court order called an amparo from a Federal Judge. Each amparo is only good for that particular couple. It takes five consecutive, identical amparos issued in the same state for them to become binding for everyone in that state.

The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) has already ordered all federal judges to issue amparos whenever a same-sex couple asks a court for permission to marry. Marriage equality supporters point out that this makes full marriage equality inevitable throughout the country. If the state legislatures fail to act, LGBT-rights activists say that they will continue to expand full marriage equality nationwide, state by state, amparo by amparo.

Morelos On the Cusp Of Enacting Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2016


Map, MexicoLast month, the state of Morelos just south of Mexico City began the process of amending its state constitution and civil laws to allow same-sex couples to marry without having to go through the cumbersome and expensive process of getting an amaro from a federal judge. As part of that process, state congress approved a package of constitutional reforms which must then be approved by a majority of the state’s 33 Ayuntamientos (regional governments) for ratification.

State congressional members were telling reporters yesterday that votes have taken place in all of the Ayuntamientos, which approved the constitutional reforms 18-15. The next step if for Congress to officially declare the the results in its next session and order its publication in the official legal gazette, Tierra y Libertad. It’s not clear when that is expected to take place, but at least the biggest hurdles to marriage equality have been cleared.

When Morelos makes it all official, it will be the tenth state, along Mexico City (which is not a part of a state), to provide marriage equality on the same terms as opposite-sex couples. Marriage equality is legal nationwide, although in the remaining 21 states same-sex couples have to go to court and obtain a court order, called an amparo, from a federal judge. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), Mexico’s highest court, has ordered all federal judges to grant all amparos brought before their courts.

Morelos is located just south of Mexico City, with Cuernavaca 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 haven’t traveled Mexico extensively, but I have spent time in Morelos. Cuernavaca is probably my favorite city, and it would make a magnificent wedding destination.

Mormons Enter Mexico’s Marriage Battle

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2016

LDS presence in Mexico goes back to the 1875, when a number of Mormon families fled anti-polygamy violence in the United States. (Former Michigan Gov. George W. Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, was born in Colonia Dublán, Chihuahua.) Mormon presence in Mexico has never been large. The church claims 1.4 million members out of a total population of 122 million, which is barely over a single percentage point. But Californians can attest, based on their Prop 8 experience, what an outsized influence the well-organized church can have on local politics. And so this bears watching:

On Sunday, three members of the LDS Church’s governing Area Authority in Mexico read a letter at services of individual Mormon stakes (which are like dioceses), urging members to oppose a presidential proposal to enshrine gay marriage in the country’s constitution.

… Signed by the Area Authority president, Benjamin De Hoyos, and his two counselors, Paul B. Pieper and Arnulfo Valenzuela, the statement exhorted Mexico’s Mormons to push government leaders to “promote those measures designed to strengthen the family and to maintain it as the fundamental unit of society.” …The LDS Church’s official Mexican newsroom website said the authorities’ statement also will be read by bishops of the more than 2,000 Mormon congregations in that nation.

Marriage equality used to be available in Sonora (cross-hatched), but is on hold for now. (Click to enlarge)

Marriage equality used to be available in Sonora (cross-hatched), but is on hold for now. (Click to enlarge)

Last month, President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed changing Mexico’s constitution and civil laws to provide marriage equality across the nation. The Congress is expected to take up those proposals when it reconvenes in September. While same-sex marriage is technically legal throughout Mexico, it is only available in nine states and in Mexico City without first having to go through the cumbersome and expensive process of obtaining a court order. The proposals have already run into a buzzsaw of opposition from the Catholic Church. While Catholics make up 80% of Mexico’s population, the Pew Research Center found that only 42% of Mexico’s Catholics say they oppose marriage equality.


Nope. Chiapas Didn’t Enact Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

May 31st, 2016

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

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

One news source sounded really certain that the Chiapas congress did just that, but now it’s more evident that the Congress merely accepted a report by its Equity and Gender Commission recommending that Chiapas adopt marriage equality, and did not actually approve any changes to Chiapas’s civil code.

Here’s a press release from the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) urging the Chiapas congress to act quickly to “harmonize its legal framework of civil order in regard to equal marriage.” Chiapas and Puebla recently changed their marriage laws to restrict marriage to a man-woman relationship, which triggered a thirty-day window in which a new law can be challenged on Constitutional grounds. CNDH has filed suit challenging those two laws, and has been working to encourage those states to rectify their laws before Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) acts on the challenge. SCJN is widely expected to rule in favor of CNDH’s challenge, since it has already done so with a CNDH challenge in Jalisco. According to this press release, CNDH says that they have “established communications with the legislative and executive branches of the state of Chiapas.”

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


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


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


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.

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