Lawmakers in Baja California have rejected a bill to change the state’s constitution and allow the recognition of same-sex marriage.
The initiative, presented by the Morena party, failed to get the two-thirds majority required to change the wording of the constitution, which currently defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Of the 25 votes cast, only 15 were in favor, with three against and seven abstentions.
Those who abstained said they needed to explore the issue in more depth.
“This is very sad. This is a sad day for our state’s history,” Deputy Montserrat Caballero said after the vote.
“People pay us to take a vote. To vote yes or no. Not to worry about our seats and abstain from voting,” she said.
The bill caused a confrontation between the state’s LGBT+ advocacy community and pro-life groups who waited outside Congress in Mexicali to see if the 2010 constitutional amendment which defined marriage exclusively as the union between a man and a woman would be overturned.
The proposed law will be returned to the governance commission at a later date for further discussion. Last year a similar proposal was tabled after outrage from conservative groups.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Mexico since 2015, after a Supreme Court ruling that enabled couples to get an injunction in federal court against state laws prohibiting their union.
However, the process can be lengthy and first requires couples to file for a marriage license and be rejected before suing in federal court.
LGBT+ advocates say the process is unfair because it forces same-sex couples to spend significantly more time and money navigating the legal process to get married than heterosexual couples face.
Several states in Mexico have already legalized same-sex marriage.
Opponents such as conservative religious organizations like the National Front for the Family gathered some 27,000 signatures opposing the failed bill. They claimed it would damage families, which are formed with the goal of procreation.
“As parents, we appreciate that the legislators have listened to us since the legalization of marriage equality was just going to be the beginning of actions that seem unfair to us for our children, like transgender bathrooms in schools,” said Marcela Vaquera, a spokeswoman for the National Front for the Family.
The bill was introduced by Ensenada legislator Miriam Cano, who expressed disappointment that the measure failed.
Cano said she put the bill forward at the request of the community and upon recommendations by the National Human Rights Commission. Cano reports her support for same-sex rights has led to threats of violence and death. “They wish my children would die and be crushed, burned and dismembered,” she said.
Same-sex marriage advocates vowed that the fight for equality would continue.