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Mexico City's Nonchalance Toward Gay Marriage is Catching on in South America

Mancera marrying 26 gay couples in July.


Mass same-sex marriages, presided over by the mayor? Yes, and then some.

MEXICO CITY — In Mexico’s modernizing capital, the word these days seems to be “keep calm, and marry on,” a nonchalance toward gay marriage that’s slowly catching on across Latin America.

Pushing that message, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera stood witness recently to the mass wedding of 58 lesbian and gay couples, who said their vows in unison.

"This is one more event in ... the city of freedoms,” Mancera, who presided over a similar ceremony in July, told the 74 women and 42 men taking the plunge. Mexico's capital is “a city that is concerned about and working on moving ahead,” he said.

MassgayweddingThe latest gay nuptials took place at a museum just blocks from Mexico City’s central plaza — and from the cathedral pulpit of Cardinal Norberto Rivera, who has railed against gay unions as “perverse” affronts to Mexican families and the “divine project.”

But this city’s left-leaning government has been poking the eyes of Catholic leaders and other cultural conservatives for more than a decade now. Promoting diversity — sexual, political, religious — is official policy here. The Mexican capital in many ways has set the pace of social change across Mexico and the region.

Mancera told the newlyweds at the March 21 mass wedding the city is determined to push equality issues "step by step." He announced an initiative to make it easier for people to legally change their gender.

Mexico City legalized gay marriage in late 2009. Less than a year later, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that the rest of the nation must recognize those marriages.

That said, same-sex unions remain illegal in most of Mexico. As in the United States, the federal system here leaves the definition of marriage up to state legislators, or the municipal council in the case of Mexico City’s federal district.

But advocates in the past year have won court rulings forcing recognition of gay marriages in several states on a case-by-case basis. Those decisions give activists hope that judges can nudge state governments toward recognizing marriage equality.

Mexicocity“We have advanced very quickly,” said lawyer Luis Guzman, 33, a leading activist in the conservative western city of Guadalajara who married his long time companion in one of Mexico City's first gay weddings. “These four years have been very important to us.”

“The courts are the easiest way to do it,” Guzman said. “The local legislatures don't want to touch the issue.”

Despite enduring discrimination, courts and congresses are changing laws and attitudes toward gay rights elsewhere in Latin America.

“There has been a gay rights revolution that has stretched from Tierra del Fuego to the Rio Grande," Omar Encarnacion, a political scientist at Bard College in New York, noted on a recent blog post in The New York Times.

Well, perhaps not quite a revolution.

The culture clash over gay unions regionwide has been at least as fraught as that in the United States. With gay equality entwined here with a growing awareness of human rights of every kind, courts and activists across the region have been prodding reluctant lawmakers and societies alike.

Many societies remain outright hostile to same-sex couples, as GlobalPost’s Simeon Tegel reported last year. And violence stalks gays throughout the region.

“There are some advances, but they are hand in hand with backlash,” says Maria-Mercedes Gomez, Latin America coordinator for the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

“We still have a long, long way to go, still far from a heavenly situation on human rights.”

Yet Latin America provides three of the 17 countries that have legalized gay marriage worldwide. The Argentine capital Buenos Aires started the charge allowing same-sex marriage in November 2009. Argentina's congress legalized it nationally in 2010 and Uruguay's did so last spring. Chile's lower congressional chamber currently is debating a senate-approved “life partnership agreement,” a form of civil union.

Bypassing legislators, a Brazilian judicial panel ruled last year that gays could not be denied marriage licenses, effectively legalizing the unions. The ruling is being challenged and congress may yet rescind or modify it.

Some form of civil union are legal in Colombia and Ecuador. Chile's lower congressional chamber currently is debating a senate-approved “life partnership agreement,” a form of civil union.

2_mexicoOutside Mexico City, gay marriages have been recognized as legal since 2011 in Quintana Roo, the state on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula that includes Cancun.

Three other states, including Jalisco, of which Guadalajara is the capital, allow civil unions. A federal court in late 2012 ruled that Oaxaca state's vague legislation rendered the marriages of three gay couples legal.

“We are recognizing realities," said Hector Maldonado, director of Mexico City's Civil Registry, which records marriages. "This is a defense of the freedom of expression, the freedom to love.

"The changes here make it clear that people have to push for their rights," he said. "Now they have to push it in the states as well."

Such attitudes remain well ahead of the average citizens. But one nationwide poll revealed last year that a slight majority of Mexicans now at least don’t opposed gay marriage or civil unions.

Public attitudes in part are shaped by religious leaders, which despite Pope Francis’ more conciliatory language, in Mexico have been almost uniformly hostile to same-sex unions in Mexico.

"Truly Mexico is suffering a lot of bad things, flu, violence, poverty, unemployement and together with these comes news of a bad and perverse law," Rivera, Mexico's highest-ranking Catholic clergyman, said when the gay marriage law was passed.

When the Supreme Court ruled that the capital’s marriages are valid nationwide, the prelate said that "de facto or supposedly legal unions between persons of the same sex are immoral, as they contradict the divine plan."

But, at least in key parts of the capital and other big cities, public opinion seems to be steadily shifting toward acceptance.

Mexico City's gay pride parade each June draws tens of thousands of marchers and thousands more spectators, including many families.

Gay men at times seem to own the Zona Rosa, or Pink Zone, which until the capital's disastrous 1985 earthquake was the city’s nightlife mecca.

Smooching same-sex couples have become common on the street and subway, where gay men often gravitate to the last car of the trains, far outnumbering straight riders.

Such public displays of affection seldom draw stares in this city of 9 million, even more rarely a public rebuke.

“It depends of course upon what part of the city you are in,” said Samuel Villanueva, a 29-year-old sales clerk, who strolled with his veterinarian partner through a recent lunchtime throng in the Zona Rosa, their arms across the small of one another's back.

“But there isn't so much discrimination any more,” Villanueva said. “There are gays in every family, in every neighborhood. People are starting to realize and accept that.”

Mexican Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Equal Public Benefits For Same-Sex Couples


Mexico has been on the forefront of many issues regarding same-sex marriage in recent years, but that does not mean there have not been issues of concern. Though Mexico City legalized same-sex marriages in 2010, and the Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Oaxaca in 2012, same-sex couples in civil unions and marriages around the country were still unable to receive several public benefits that heterosexual couples could. Now, the Mexican Supreme Court has issued another historic ruling that secures pension and health benefits for same-sex couples, particularly in regards to social security. 

BuzzFeed reports:

The ruling specifically addressed the question of whether someone whose spouse dies is entitled to survivor’s benefits under Mexico’s Social Security law, which includes pensions and access to medical services. The case was initially brought by a couple who were refused the right to enroll in full spousal benefits, but one of them died before the case was decided.

Mexico’s Supreme Court does not usually release written opinions until several weeks after judgements are announced. But according to press reports, Minister José Fernando Franco González Salas explained when announcing the ruling that the court interprets the Social Security law as requiring a same-sex couple’s union be treated “the same as if it were a marriage between people of opposite sexes.”

This is an exciting development, and one which will apply to more and more couples as the states in Mexico begin to approve same-sex marriage. Currently, marriages performed in Mexico City must be recognized by every other state, though most of them do not have legalized same-sex marriage. However, the Oaxaca decision in 2012 effectively steam-rolled over the logic of marriage bans across Mexico, meaning we may see legal developments in more states soon.

Mexican Billboard: Death is the Punishment for Gay Sin

A billboard in the Mexican state of Chiapas responding to looser restrictions on same-sex marriage — and other important social issues like drug use and abortion — has made headlines this month for its intense, anti-gay message.

BillboardThe local mayor of Chilo, Leonardo Rafael Aguilar Guiraro, has attached his logo to the billboard, which takes a biblical approach to stopping the spread of certain behaviors.

Gay Star News reports:

‘No to the legalization of initiatives that are contrary to the commandments of God – abortion, gay marriage, legalization of marijuana etc,’ the billboard reads.

‘The wages of sin are death,’ quoting Romans 6:23...

Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is banned in Mexico and there have been calls for the billboard to be removed.

The legislation covers ‘offending, ridiculing or promoting violence through messages and images displayed in communications media,’ and ‘incitement to hatred, violence, rejection, ridicule, defamation, slander, persecution or exclusion.’

Let's hope that Mexico's anti-discrimination law takes care of this signage soon.

Neil Patrick Harris Dishes on His Mexican Margarita Adventure (And His Twins) - VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 11.00.34 AM

On Thursday, Neil Patrick Harris stopped by Ellen to chat with guest host Ellie Kemper about his recent margarita adventure in Mexico that was well-documented on Instagram.

Harris also gave an update on his adorable 3-year-old twins.


Continue reading "Neil Patrick Harris Dishes on His Mexican Margarita Adventure (And His Twins) - VIDEO" »

Neil Patrick Harris Has an Epic Shirtless Margarita Adventure in Mexico: PHOTOS


Neil Patrick Harris went south of the border for the holidays and decided to wrap up the trip by allowing us to join him on Instagram in a celebration of the country's signature cocktail.

Writes Harris : "Last day of our Mexico adventure. Let's see just how many margaritas I can drink. Cheers!"

Continued, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Neil Patrick Harris Has an Epic Shirtless Margarita Adventure in Mexico: PHOTOS" »

Same-Sex Marriage Advances In Mexican State of Jalisco: VIDEO


Despite a ruling from Mexico’s supreme court a little over a year that “open[ed] the door to equal marriage in the whole country,” marriage equality has yet to become a reality in every Mexican state. Same-sex marriage has been officially recognized in Chihuahua, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, and Oaxaca. However, a recent union in Jalisco suggests more movement is possible.

CNN Mexico reports that earlier this month Zaira de la O and Martha Sandoval became the first lesbian couple to marry in the state of Jalisco:

Last November, Jalisco lawmakers approved domestic partnerships for gay couples (Ley de Libre Convivencia), a union with limited benefits that is formalized before a notary, not a judge.

After being denied a marriage license in March, the couple sought relief from the courts and won, CNN Mexico reported.

“We are happy, relishing the moment we sign, with the same nerves as any couple about to marry for the first time,” Zaira said.

 The women, who are raising a 1-year-old daughter, were represented in their legal fight by the Committee of Latin America and the Caribbean for the Defense of Women's Rights (Comite de America Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer, CLADEM).

CLADEM's Guadalupe Ramos said that she knew of at least five additional gay couples who want to marry in the state.

“What we hope is that we won't have to litigate in all of these cases to obtain the same rights as heterosexual couples,” said Zaira.

BoysMeanwhile, in November, Marco Villaseñor Quiroz and Jaime Gándara Salcido, became the first same-sex couple to marry in the state of Chihuahua, according to El Diario. Thanks to a district court judge who granted the couple a ‘writ of amparo’ or ‘protection of their civil rights’ the couple was able to receive a marriage license. Though the couple received much support from family and friends, not everyone was happy to celebrate them on their big day:

At the start of the wedding, a group of people [arrived at] the facilities of the Civil Registry to prevent it, but the authorities requested the support of units of the Municipal Police and everything ran smoothly with calm….

After 20 years of living together, Jaime [spoke of his happiness in reaching] that day: "We are in a great place for having achieved the goal. Thank God everything is provided to us, we have had much support".

Congratulations to the happy couples!

Watch a video of Sandoval and de la O's wedding (in Spanish) along with a short clip of Quiroz and Salcido's, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Same-Sex Marriage Advances In Mexican State of Jalisco: VIDEO" »


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