Mexico: will court ruling legalize same-sex marriage?

A four-justice panel of Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) decided unanimously on Dec. 5 to uphold a challenge that three same-sex couples brought against the marriage law in the southern state of Oaxaca. State authorities had refused to marry the couples last year under Oaxaca Civil Code Article 143, which defines marriage as “a civil contract carried out between one man and one woman, who join together to perpetuate the species and to provide mutual aid.” The justices ruled that the requirement “to procreate to perpetuate the species violates the constitutional principle of self-determination of persons and the right of each individual to the free development of personality.” The SCJN ordered the Oaxaca Civil Registry to act on the applications the three couples made for marriage authorization and not to discriminate against them.

The decision doesn’t completely invalidate Article 143, but it opens the way for same-sex couples denied the right to wed in any of the country’s 31 states to appeal to the Supreme Court. One of the justices, José Ramón Cossío, told the Mexican daily La Jornada that the SCJN didn’t strike the law down because if it had, “in a practical sense we would have left the Oaxaca Civil Code without an article [on marriage], and it would have affected people of the same sex as much as heterosexuals.” But in the future the justices might make a general declaration of unconstitutionality, Cossío said, and “afterwards it is foreseeable that the effect might be broader”—that is, the court could rule to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country. (La Jornada, Mexico, Dec. 5)

The Federal District (DF, Mexico City) already permits same-sex marriage. The SCJN ruled in August 2010 that same-sex marriages performed in the DF are valid in all the country’s states; it also upheld the DF’s legalization of adoption by same-sex couples.

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 9.