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State marriage laws ruled unconstitutional

Marriage cannot be defined based on procreation, Supreme Court rules

Same-sex marriage has earned legal recognition throughout Mexico following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN).

State civil codes that define marriage as “the union between a man and a woman, with the only purpose being procreation” have been ruled unconstitutional.

Leticia Bonifaz, the director general of Education, Promotion and Development of Human Rights at the SCJN, said the decision was based on all the previous cases in which judges had ruled in favor of marriages between people of the same sex.

“The sheer number of resolutions of exemption or injunctions (amparos) in favor of same-sex marriages allowed for a case to be established, and made it possible for the judges to rule accordingly,” said Bonifaz.

In the court’s words: “It is unconstitutional for [state] laws to consider that the sole purpose of marriage is procreation, and/or to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”

The resolution clarifies that to define marriage based on a narrow term such as procreation undermines its true end, the protection of families as a social reality.

“Defining marriage by the purpose of procreation limits the access to this social institution by the sexual orientation of those interested in it, as that definition excludes homosexual couples that in every other aspect are equal to heterosexual couples. We find this discriminatory,” judges wrote.

According to the definition of marriage as it has stood until now, infertile or elderly couples could also be denied the opportunity to marry, as procreation wouldn’t be an option.

The court concluded that no rule, decision or practice of internal laws, either by state authorities or individuals, should diminish or restrict a person’s rights based on their sexual orientation.

The next step, says a spokesman for the Oaxacan Front for the Respect and Recognition of Sexual Diversity, is legal reform because until state laws are amended same-sex couples will have to turn to the courts if denied the right to marry. However, the ruling means that a judge would have to rule in favor of the couple.

“The resolution forces federal judges to grant injunctions [to same-sex couples],” Alex Alí Méndez Díaz told Mexico News Daily. “We’ll have to wait and see what local civil registries do. The next, ideal step is to reform state civil and family codes, on a state by state basis . . . .”

“Alternatively, the case of Chihuahua could be repeated, where the state governor instructed that same-sex marriages be allowed. We’ll have to wait and see how each state reacts to new marriage applications.”

In 2010, Mexico City became the first city in the country to legalize same-sex marriage. Since then, the SCJN determined that state congresses were entitled to legislate accordingly. The states of Coahuila and Quintana Roo have since approved marriage equality laws.

Since 2012, gay and lesbian couples have been battling the right to marriage equality case by case, winning exemptions in states such as Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Colima, State of México, Jalisco and, just this week, Chihuahua.

The National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred) sees the court’s resolution as historic and represents progress towards marriage equality, recognizing and legitimizing the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Mexico.

“This resolution will allow states to recognize same-sex unions. It’s a great step forward in the fight to highlight and grant protection to the fundamental rights of all people, building a society with full liberties and rights,” the council said in a statement.

Source: NotiEse (sp), El Universal (sp)

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