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Mexico City Hub



04/19/2007


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

Mancera
Mancera marrying 26 gay couples in July.

BY DUDLEY ALTHAUS / GlobalPost

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.”


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

Girls

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" »


Mexico City's Mayor Miguel Mancera Marries 26 Gay Couples in Mass Wedding: VIDEO

Mancera

Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera married 26 gay couples in a mass wedding over the weekend.

Watch footage from the wedding, AFTER THE JUMP...

(leunamlc via blabbeando)

Continue reading "Mexico City's Mayor Miguel Mancera Marries 26 Gay Couples in Mass Wedding: VIDEO" »


Increase In Violence and Discrimination By Police In Mexico City

The LA Times tells the story of Jonathan Zamora, a 31-year old man from Mexico City, who was detained and beaten by police in that city simply for being gay. While Mexico City is seemingly gay-friendly (same-sex marriage is legal as are adoptions by gay couples), LGBT people have recently reported more and more discrimination from police.

MexicocityThe abuse Zamora experienced by the authorities:

He claimed four officers entered his cell and proceeded to punch and kick him. Zamora said he was then taken to a hospital, examined, returned to a police station and let go, ending an ordeal that lasted about eight hours.

"In my case, it wasn't just about a lack of training, it was a lack of everything," he said. "How can you hire people who are aggressive, violent, who don't behave like community?"

This week has seen the introduction of new regulations distributed to Mexico City police officers:

New police protocols published Thursday instruct officers to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people “with respect for human rights” and to respect their “gender identity.” They also prohibit the use of insulting language or degrading comments.

"First, the police have to recognize that we're people," said Jaime Lopez Vela, a longtime gay rights activist who helped draft the new rules. "We've been talking about this for years. It's been on the agenda, and sadly, it's been expedited by the recent aggressions."

Meanwhile the police officers who violently beat Zamora have yet to face any disciplinary action.


High Court Ruling Striking Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in Mexico Made Public

Last December Mexico's highest court made a unanimous ruling striking down the ban on same-sex marriage in three cases (they must also strike it down in two more for it to have any effect nationally) out of the southern state of Oaxaca, and the ruling was not published at the time.

OaxacaIt was made public Monday, Buzzfeed reports:

The ruling not only makes a strong statement about Mexican law's treatment of equal protection guarantees, it also relies heavily on civil rights rulings handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Although several justices of the American court take pride in not caring what foreign courts say, any who read the Mexican decision will find the court makes an impassioned case for the United States to follow its lead.

Writing for a unanimous tribunal, Minister Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea invoked the U.S. cases Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education to argue for marriage equality in a way that American activists would be overjoyed to see from a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Buzzfeed adds:

Despite its breadth, this ruling will have only a small immediate impact in Mexico.

Technicalities of the country's legal system mean that only the three couples who brought this case will be able to marry right away. Mexico City is still the only jurisdiction inside Mexico where marriage between same-sex couples is fully legal; several more lawsuits will have to be brought before that right is available nationwide.

Unlike in the United States, it takes more than one ruling from Mexico's Supreme Court to strike down a law—the court must rule the same way in five separate cases before a law falls. This ruling concerns three separate cases; it will take two more for any same-sex couple in Oaxaca to be able to wed easily, and then the process may have to be repeated in other states. But this precedent means this is a procedural issue, not a legal one.


Journalists Remember Late Gay Reporter Armando Montano

AMontanoAs news broke of gay AP intern Armando Montano's death, his fellow journalist friends put digital pen to paper to remember the 22-year old journalist.

Via Metro Weekly comes this memory from Aaron Edwards, an intern at The New York Times:

About one year ago, when Armando Montano and I went to the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, a journalism training program geared to young journalists of minority backgrounds, he started beaming when he found out that because we were Chips Quinn Scholars we would get free access to the Newseum, an interactive journalism museum in Washington, D.C.

But his excitement stemmed from more than the fact that he could now go and geek out over historic front pages and archival photographs from The New York Times and The Washington Post whenever he wanted. Armando, or “Mando” as many called him for short, was excited because he was adamant and steadfast in the idea that he would marry the love of his life there.

“I’m going to get married in the Newseum, Aaron. I'm going to get married at the freakin' Newseum.” he would tell me.

Mando was sure that he would stand on the balcony of that building one day and say “I Do” to a man who loved him enough to understand and cherish a guy whose quirky soul led him to want to get married atop a national journalism museum.   

Marissa Evans, an intern at the Washington Post, also memorialized Montano. The late writer's enthusiasm for his craft — and indeed life — was so contagious that Evans and he formed a deep friendship based solely on online correspondence.

Evans writes, "Looking through my Gmail chats with him, I had only started talking to him on August 1, 2011. Our friendship is built upon 72 hilarious chat sessions plus countless Facebook comments/likes and Twitter mentions and retweets."

"As journalists, we harp so much about using social media to be an extension of our brand but it furrows my brow to think about how we sometimes forget to use it to truly connect with the people we friend and follow."


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