Global Post and Salon have reported that on Wednesday, a unanimous decision by Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that southern Oaxaca’s law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. This ruling will pave the way for same-sex couples to marry in Oaxaca and eventually the rest of Mexico. The tribunal struck down the Oaxaca state law that declares that “one of the purposes of marriage is the perpetuation of the species.”
The court ruled that limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman “violates the principle of equality.”
This ruling makes Oaxaca the second locale in Mexico to have legalized same-sex marriage. Currently, same-sex marriage is only legal in Mexico City, where a same-sex marriage law was enacted in 2010.
The court’s ruling came from a lawsuit that was filed by three gay couples against the state of Oaxaca. Oaxacan law student, Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, represented the couples even though other LGBT activists in the state predicated failure.
Activists “said Oaxaca wasn’t ready for those discussions,” Méndez said.. “So I said, ‘Fine, if the collective won’t do this as a collective, well, I’m the only lawyer [in the group]. I’ll do it.”
Méndez initially met one of the couples while working with the Oaxacan Front for the Respect and Recognition of Sexual Diversity [Frente Oaxaqueño por el Respeto y el Reconocimiento de la Diversidad Sexual].
After carefully examining the Supreme Court ruling that upheld Mexico City’s marriage ordinance, Méndez decided he could build a case in Oaxaca.
“The document seemed to me to be extraordinary,” Méndez said in an interview in Oaxaca City last week. His interpretation of the ruling was that “family” rights in the Mexican constitution are not restricted “only to a family of a father, a mother, and children, but also to whatever other form of family.”
While the case was in progress, the Inter-American Court ruled that the American Convention on Human Rights “prohibits … any rule, act, or discriminatory practice based on sexual orientation.” The case involved a Chilean lesbian who was denied custody of her children because she is gay (Karen Atala Riffo y Niñas v. Chile). Ruling from international courts count as legal precedents in Mexican courts.
Salon writer J. Lester Feder wrote that the decision may have been influenced by international law. The Inter-American Court and the American Convention on Human Rights “prohibits … any rule, act, or discriminatory practice based on sexual orientation.”
It’s ironic to me that our neighbor to the south, generally viewed by most Americans as “inferior” and a third-world country, is ahead of us on this key civil rights issue. John Aravosis of AMERICAblog is in agreement.
“I never cease to be amazed at how many countries, and which countries, around the world are ahead of the US on this basic civil and human right. I grew up being taught that America was the greatest and freest country on earth…. I’m still blown away that in traditionally Catholic countries, and Latin countries to boot, marriage equality is proceeding ahead of the US.”
Same-sex couples will not immediately be able to marry throughout Mexico. Mexico has a longer legal process for overturning statutes than the United States does. Details of the written ruling have not been published.