Thursday, August 05, 2010

Mexican Supreme Court: Mexico City's marriage equality law is constitutional

Still on a high from yesterday's historic federal court ruling knocking down Proposition 8 in California?  Well, get a load of this:

The Mexican Supreme Court of Justice has been holding hearings this week on the constitutionality of Mexico City's groundbreaking marriage equality law which was adopted by the city on December 21st, 2009.

The law, the first of its kind in all of Latin America, not only granted gay couples in Mexico City the right to marry but also explicitly said that gay couples could adopt children (previously gay individuals were allowed to adopt but, if they had a partner, that partner could not file for parenthood rights).

Upon passage of the law, Mexican president Felipe Calderón stated that the constitution only allowed marriages "between a man and a woman" and had his attorney general file an appeal before the Supreme Court.

Guess what!  Earlier today the Mexican Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 8-2 that Mexico City's marriage equality law is indeed constitutional ("Mexican court upholds capital's gay marriage law", AP). Suck it, Calderón!

Echoing California federal court judge Vaugh R. Walker in ruling that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, Milenio reports that, in backing the law, Justice Fernando Franco stated the following:
Procreation is not an essential element of marriage nor does it threaten the protection the Constitution grants to the family and procreation, since those who want to conceive, have the full capacity of doing it.
The court had previously said that they would also take up the part of the law that grants adoption rights for gay couples as a separate debate.  To that effect, the court will convene once again this Monday to discuss whether that part of the law is constitutional.  They will also be debating whether the court's ruling has any reach beyond Mexico City.

Not all LGBT-rights advocates were happy with the marriage equality law approved in December by the legislature. Federal Deputy Enoé Uranga, an openly lesbian legislator who spearheaded a civil union bill in 2001 which was passed in 2006, warned that the law had been rushed through the legislature with not enough time for public debate.  She argued that the law reflected political interests rather than serve the needs of LGBT families and warned that making adoption rights explicit within the law might have unintended consequences should the Supreme Court decide to ban them.  As of late, though, and now that the Supreme Court is holding hearings and deciding on the constitutionality of the law, Uranga has been busy trying to draw expert witnesses and testimony for the court to consider backing adoption rights for gays.

Some observers are just as concerned the court won't be nearly as progressive on adoption as it was today on marriage equality but Mexico City Councilmember David Razú (pictured above), the author and lead sponsor of the bill which became law, is absolutely certain the Court will back adoption rights as well, according to my conversations with him on Twitter.

In the meantime, the United Nation's Deputy High Commissioner Kyung-wha Kang, visiting Mexico for an international conference on women's rights, told CNN Mexico that marriage was a right everyone should have access to, including same-sex partners.  CNN doesn't quote her directly but says that the UN Commissioner also backed adoption rights for same-sex couples "although the decision should be taken carefully in each particular case" and said that the United Nations had always been in favor of citizens having full access to human rights regardless of their sexual orientation.

As for marriages between same-sex couples that have taken place since the law was passed six months ago? NotieSe reports that 320 same-sex marriage couples have gotten married, 173 between men and 147 between women.  27 foreigners have married Mexican citizens including people who were born in Rumania, Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, England, the United States, Canada, Panama, Guatemala, Venezuela and Colombia.

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