Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yucatán court orders recognition of gay marriage

*Updated Aug. 8*
Mérida, Yucatán -
In the first decision of its kind in this state, a Yucatán federal court has ordered local officials to recognize and register the marriage of two men, identified in legal filings only as Javier and Ricardo.

On Mar. 26 the men presented themselves before the Civil Registrar with all necessary documentation and asked to be married. The top official of the department refused, relying on the state's Family Code, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The applicants protested, citing a provision of Mexico's federal constitution which prohibits discrimination based on gender. The Registrar persisted in its refusal and declined to marry the men.

The determined couple filed suit in the district federal court, relying on recent precedents of Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court. Those include a January 2012 ruling which accorded recognition in principle to gay unions (Mexico's highest court upholds right of same-sex couples to marry in some states), and a December 2012 decision with ordered authorities in Oaxaca state to do exactly what these plaintiffs had asked the Yucatán Civil Registrar to do (Mexico's Supreme Court takes another step towards nationwide recognition of gay marriage).

In the Oaxaca case the Supreme Court struck down a section of its civil code which had defined marriage as "the union of persons of opposite sex with the capacity for and purpose of procreation." The Court found that the right to marry extends even to couples in nontraditional relationships.

The federal judge granted the men an order in amparo, which required the Civil Registrar to enter the marriage on its books. State officials have not indicated whether they plan to appeal the ruling, but it appears unlikely given the national impetus in Mexico towards formal recognition of same-sex unions.

In February a gay activist group in Mérida complained that state authorities were stalling on updating marriage laws, and threatened legal action. Gay alliance charges that Yucatán legislature shelved its petition for approval of same sex marriages. With the precedent set by this ruling, which was handed down Apr. 25, that may be unnecessary.

A gay legal advocacy organization in Mérida accused the Yucatán legislature of homophobia, and said it is "unwilling to recognize the rights of minority groups historically subjected to discrimination."

Although officials in neighboring Quintana Roo state said almost a year ago that they would recognize gay marriage, a same-sex couple in Tulum recently reported that their application had been rejected.

July 17 - The Yucatan Times reported today that state authorities will not appeal the federal court's April decision. Bottom line: same sex marriage is now de facto legal in the state of Yucatán.

July 29 - The legislature of the Pacific coast state of Colima approved gay unions as "conjugal relationships entitled to full legal protection" today, while rejecting same sex marriage. PRI and PAN delegates voted in support of the measure, which two leftist PRD delegates said was discriminatory. The constitutional amendment becomes effective Aug. 3, but a legal showdown cannot be ruled out. Gay activists want their unions called marriage, as federal courts have ordered other states to do.

Aug. 8 - The 34 and 26 year old plaintiffs in the Yucatán case were wed this evening. The ceremony was the first legal same sex marriage in the state's history.

Dec. 14 - Lesbian couple wed in Guadalajara, where gay marriage rules are morass of inconsistency
July 6 - Yucatecans not ready for gay marriage, says chief judge
June 26 - The U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage, in a nutshell
Mar. 27 - Same sex marriage arrives at the U.S., Mexican Supreme Courts
Mar. 6 - Mexican Supreme Court: anti-gay comments are hate speech, not free speech
Oct. 4, 2012 - U.S. court finds evidence of "fundamental changes in the treatment of gays in Mexico"

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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