September 11, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Mexican same-sex couples seek marriage rights
Alex Ali Mendez Diaz, gay news, Washington Blade

Mexican lawyer Alex Ali Mendez Diaz (Photo courtesy of Alex Ali Mendez Diaz)

The movement for marriage rights for same-sex couples in Mexico continues to gain momentum as more gays and lesbians across the country seek the ability to exchange vows.

A gay couple in the city of Mérida in the state of Yucatán on Aug. 8 tied the knot after a federal judge in July said the two men could marry. A judge in the state of Chihuahua in which Ciudad Juarez is located on Aug. 19 ruled in favor of five same-sex couples who had sought legal recourse — known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system — that would allow them to marry.

A judge in the state of México, which is outside Mexico City, the country’s capital, in June ruled in support of four same-sex couples who had sought marriage rights. Local authorities appealed the decision.

Gays and lesbians in the states of Colima; Baja California; Guanajuato; Morales and Jalisco, in which Guadalajara and the resort city of Puerto Vallarta are located, have also petitioned local authorities to extend marriage rights to them.

These developments are taking place nearly a year after the Mexican Supreme Court found a Oaxacan law that bans same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Three couples tried to apply for marriage licenses in the state, but local authorities denied their applications. Lawyer Alex Alí Méndez Díaz filed lawsuits on behalf of two of the couples in August 2011 and a third in January 2012.

The justices unveiled their decision in February.

One of the Oaxacan couples that sought the right to marry tied the knot in March in what Méndez told the Washington Blade is the first same-sex marriage to take place in Mexico under a court order. He said a second couple will exchange vows in December, but the third couple will not marry in what Méndez described as a “symbol of solidarity with the local LGBT movement” over “legislative indifference to make the necessary reforms” to avoid bringing the issue to the Mexican federal courts.

Fourteen countries, along with 13 states and D.C. allow gays and lesbians to legally marry.

Mexico City in 2010 extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. The Mexican Supreme Court has ruled other states must recognize gay marriages legally performed in the Mexican capital.

Gays and lesbians have also exchanged vows in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatán Peninsula in which Cancún is located. The state of Coahuila offers property and inheritance rights and other limited legal protections to same-sex couples.

Opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples in Mexico remains in spite of recent advances on the issue.

Congresswoman Ana María Jiménez Ortiz, who represents the conservative political party PAN in the state of Puebla outside Mexico City, last month sparked controversy when she suggested officials should allow marriage only for “people that can look at each other in the eye while having sexual intercourse.”

“[That is] something that does not happen in homosexual couples,” she said.

Catholic groups in the month after the Mexican Supreme Court released its Oaxaca ruling submitted to the country’s Congress a petition against marriage rights for same-sex couples with 23,000 signatures.

“One can say that the rulings announced last December with respect to the Oaxacan cases mean the possibility that marriage equality is possible throughout Mexico through the judicial process,” Méndez told the Blade. “Unfortunately established moral and religious prejudices in the same state institutions have impeded any rapid movement on the issue.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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