January 26, 2016 at 11:58 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Mexican Supreme Court strikes down state marriage ban

The Mexican Supreme Court on Jan. 26, 2016, struck down a portion of the state of Jalisco's Civil Code that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Mexican Supreme Court on Jan. 26, 2016, struck down a portion of the state of Jalisco’s Civil Code that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Mexican Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the state of Jalisco’s same-sex marriage ban.

The justices in their 11-0 ruling said the portion of the Jalisco Civil Code that defines marriage as between a man and a woman amounts to discrimination based on sexual orientation under the Mexican constitution.

Milenio, a Mexican newspaper, quoted Chief Justice Luis María Aguilar Morales as saying the Jalisco Congress “has the freedom to legislate” the issue of marriage rights for same-sex couples. He stressed, however, it “cannot do it” in a way that “affects people’s human rights.”

Guadalajara, which is the second largest city in Mexico, is located in Jalisco. The resort city of Puerto Vallarta, which is a popular destination for gays and lesbians from the U.S., is also in the state.

Media reports indicate the Mexican Supreme Court “for practical purposes” has legalized same-sex marriage in Jalisco.

The ruling will formally take effect once it is published.

“For us it is a very good step forward,” Leonardo Espinosa, president of Cohesión de Diversidades para la Sustentabilidad, a Guadalajara-based LGBT advocacy group known by the acronym CODISE, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday during a telephone interview.

Same-sex couples in Mexico lack rights, protections

Gays and lesbians can legally marry in Mexico City and in the states of Coahuila and Quintana Roo. Same-sex couples have exchanged vows in Baja California and other jurisdictions after seeking legal course through the country’s judicial system.

The Mexican Supreme Court last year ruled that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. The decision came in cases brought by gay and lesbian couples from Oaxaca, Baja California, Sinaloa, Mexico and Colima.

Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, a lawyer who has spearheaded efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Mexico, last June on his blog wrote the ruling did not automatically allow gays and lesbians to marry in their respective states.

Méndez said the decision provided the “obligatory parameters” upon which same-sex couples seeking marriage rights could seek legal resource. He added it provided jurisprudence for future rulings on the issue.

“It has been made clear that the 11 justices (of the Mexican Supreme Court) are in favor of marriage equality,” Geraldina González de la Vega, a Mexican lawyer, told the Blade on Tuesday as she discussed the decision in the Jalisco case. “It is certain now that when any issue over that particular issue (of marriage rights for same-sex couples) comes before it, it will be decided in this regard.”

González added the ruling will also impact public policy.

“The Mexican Supreme Court showed today that same-sex marriage must become a reality in the whole country,” Ricardo Baruch, a Mexican LGBT rights advocate, told the Blade.

The Mexican Supreme Court last August ruled a law in the state of Campeche that bans same-sex couples from adopting children is unconstitutional. The same tribunal in 2014 said the same-sex spouses of those who receive benefits under the country’s social security system must receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.

“The next battle is changing the laws to allow same-sex couples to have the rights in terms of social security,” Baruch told the Blade on Tuesday. “That’s something where there is still a lot of discussion and resistance.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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