August 11th, 2010
August 10, 2010
Mexican States Ordered to Honor Gay Marriages
By DAVID AGREN
MEXICO CITY - The Mexican Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that each of the country’s 31 states must recognize same-sex marriages registered in Mexico City, potentially giving gay and lesbian couples full matrimonial rights nationwide.
The court had already ruled this month that Mexico City’s same-sex marriage law, which took effect in March and has resulted in hundreds of same-sex marriages, was constitutional.
But on Tuesday, the court went a step further, ruling 9 to 2 against a complaint from the attorney general’s office, which had said that other jurisdictions should not be required to honor marriages that were performed in Mexico City.
While the court made it clear that state governments were not obligated to enact same-sex marriage laws of their own, it did require them to recognize the legality of such marriages performed in Mexico City.
“What’s going to happen to a same-sex couple” who marry in Mexico City “when they cross the border” to another state, asked Justice Arturo ZaldÃvar, who voted with the majority, during Tuesday’s discussions. “Does this marriage disappear? They go on vacation and they’re no longer married?”
The possibility of having to recognize same-sex marriages from Mexico City had provoked outrage from state governments belonging to the right-leaning National Action Party, which governs nationally, and drew accusations that the left-leaning Mexico City government was establishing civil-registry regulations for the rest of the country.
The court decision leaves uncertainty about which marital rights must be recognized by state governments.
But Arturo Pueblita FernÃ¡ndez, a constitutional law professor at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, said that fundamental spousal rights would apply to same-sex couples across the country, including alimony payments, inheritance rights and the coverage of spouses by the federal social security system, which provides health and pension benefits to most of Mexico’s working population.
The court must still decide whether another part of the law, which allows same-sex couples married in Mexico City to adopt children, is constitutional. If it is, it is unclear whether such adoptions would have to be recognized throughout the country as one of the rights of same-sex couples.
The adoption issue could be decided as early as Thursday.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, including the leader of Mexico City’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, have voiced their displeasure with the law.
In a message read after his Sunday homily, Cardinal Rivera called the court decision to uphold the law “aberrant.”