On December 29th Alex Freyre and José Maria Di Bello shocked the world by becoming the first gay couple to be allowed to marry in all of Latin America. Their marriage victory in Argentina came after a protracted court battle which ended when a Buenos Aires judge ruled that it was discriminatory to deny them the right to marry. A Buenos Aires court placed a stay on that ruling but the couple circumvented that last obstacle by traveling to Tierra del Fuego, where that municipality's Governor's Office allowed the marriage to proceed, making Latin American history at the end of 2009.
By some accounts, more than a hundred same sex couples in Argentina have filed marriage claims following Freyre and Di Bello's historic wedding but, as of now, there are still no laws allowing same-sex couples to marry anywhere in Argentina and no marriage bureaus willing to grant marriage rights to other couples.
is no law allowing those marriages to take place or a marriage bureau willing to start processing additional marriages. The matter is to be decided later this year when the Supreme Court is expected to take up the matter and determine whether the Argentinian constitution is indeed discriminatory in not allowing same-sex couples to wed.
Buenos Aires already enjoyed the reputation of being the first city in Latin America to have granted limited civil union benefits to same-sex couples in the year 2003. In 2007, Uruguay became the first Latin American country to adopt a country-wide same-sex civil unions measure. In 2009, the Colombian constitutional court stopped short of calling for marriage equality but ruled that same-sex partners had the right to the same rights as heterosexual couples. Mexico City and other Mexican localities have also passed limited same-sex civil union statutes since 2006. Some municipalities in Brazil and Ecuador have also passed similar measures. But it wasn't until December that Mexico City became the first municipality in all of Latin America to approve a law allowing same-sex partners to marry. The law goes into effect on Thursday, March 4th, and hundreds of couples are expected to take advantage of the opportunity to marry.
As you would expect, the measure, which also allows same-sex couples to have the same adoption rights as heterosexual partners, has drawn the ire of right-wing political parties and conservative religious groups. Mexico's attorney general has filed a suit to block the law before the Mexican supreme court. The court recently announced that it will accept the suit and determine whether the law is constitutional. But the suit won't reach the court until possibly the end of the year and, by then, hundreds of couples might have already married.
Today's New York Times takes a look at the law and its repercussions. I believe it gives too much credence to the conservative parties that are trying to derail the law but it is a worthy read ["Gay marriage puts Mexico City at center of debate"]. It is also the only English-language coverage that I have seen covering the right-wing challenges that await the landmark law in months to come.
So, come March 4th, please join me in celebrating the same-sex marriages that will take place in Mexico City and rejoice in their historic nature. But also know that the law faces incredible challenges in the future and that the marriage equality fight in Mexico, as in the United States, is far from won.
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