On Friday, Mexico’s Supreme Court chose to dismiss three of six challenges facing Mexico City’s gay marriage law. The legislation, which was passed in December, 2009, has faced staunch opposition from many quarters of the largely Roman Catholic nation, despite the fact that its effect is limited only to the federal district itself. On Top Magazine reports:
The court said the challenges brought by the governors of three states controlled by the conservative PAN Party were “clearly inappropriate.”
The decision, written by Minister Sergio Valls, said the states did not have the legal authority to challenge the laws of another state or the nation’s federal district of Mexico City.
The court’s ruling applies to lawsuits submitted by the states of Morelos, Guanajuato and Tlaxcala.
Two of the remaining challenges are from the states of Sonora and Jalisco. Governors for those states (also PAN members) claim that Mexico City’s recognition of same-sex marriage may force neighboring states to do the same, but this is clearly something that, to date, has yet to convince the court. Still to be addressed is a separate federal case in which President Felipe Calderon and Mexico’s Attorney General have challenged the law, calling it unconstitutional.
A statement from the federal Attorney General’s Office said the law “violates the principle of legality, because it strays from the constitutional principle of protecting the family”.
This has angered Mexico City’s leftist lawmakers who say that it is not the place of the federal government to interfere with the district’s laws. Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has called the federal appeal a “grave mistake.” Ebrard faced pressure from religious quarters to veto the gay marriage law, but he refused to do so, and has now said that he will fight the appeal.
Cardinal Noberto Rivera Carrera, a Roman Catholic archbishop, previously called the law perverse and said it would harm “innocent children.”
Similarly, grassroots opposition to the law, which, by changing the definition of marriage to “the free uniting of two people” grants same-sex couples in Mexico City the right to marry and also the right to adopt, largely centers on the issue of child welfare.
The organization “Man+Woman=Marriage,” for instance, is currently trying to collect 50,000 signatures from Mexican voters to present to Mexico City’s Legislative Assembly to stop the law coming into effect, saying that the initiative “aims to protect children, whose rights will be harmed by [being adopted by same-sex couples] instead of by a family consisting of a father and mother.” They add that the reform “goes against the institution of the family.”
While the case is not directly connected, it may be worth noting that, when Mexico City’s controversial 2007 abortion law was challenged by the Attorney General on constitutional grounds, the Supreme Court ruled 8-to-3 in favor of the law. In a follow up brief in 2009, the Supreme Court reiterated that, while it upheld Mexico City’s abortion law, the law is limited to the federal district and does not impact the autonomy of neighboring states and their own ability to make laws regarding abortion (as demonstrated by the fact that many quickly adopted constitutional bans).
While this was, of course, a very different case, the Supreme Court’s prior ruling may at least provide some kind of insight into the mindset of the court, its past decisions regarding Mexico City’s liberal leaning laws, and how far the district’s autonomy extends.
Mexico City’s gay marriage law should go into effect in March. The federal challenge to the gay marriage law looks set to be heard in May.
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