This has been a tough week for bigots. Actually, it’s been a tough month or so. First, the ruling from a federal judge striking down part of DOMA as unconstitutional. Then, largely Catholic Argentina passes a same-sex marriage bill despite heavy opposition from the Catholic and Mormon Churches. Then, the HUGE, sweeping landmark Prop 8 ruling that for the first time in American history struck down a gay marriage ban. And as if all of that wasn’t encouraging enough, the Supreme Court in Mexico ruled Thursday that Mexico City’s same-sex marriage bill, which legalized both marriage between and adoption by same-sex couples in the capital city, is constitutional.
In December Mexico City became the very first Latin American capital to pass a marriage equality bill. The right-wing Calderon government immediately seized the opportunity to fight the bill, even as gay and lesbian couples were happily getting married within Mexico City starting in March (gee, sound familiar?). With the heavy backing of the Catholic Church, the Calderon government claimed that the bill was unconstitutional on the grounds that it would be destructive to the family, since the Mexican constitution provides for the protection of families. The Court undoubtedly heard all the same bigoted, wrongheaded arguments in opposition to basic equality for gays and lesbians that were aired during Perry v. Schwarzenegger – that the “traditional” one-man-one-woman-plus-children family is the bedrock of society, that marriage is for procreation, and that children are actually threatened by not only gay couples but the very existence of marriage equality.
And, just as those arguments failed in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, they failed in Mexico. By a margin of 8-2, the Justices ruled that the legalization of same-sex marriage in Mexico City is completely constitutional. In fact, the Mexican constitution offers no definition for the word “family”; as Justice Jose Gudino put it, “The concept of the family established in the constitution…is an open concept.” In other words, the very foundation upon which the case against the marriage equality law was built never really existed in the first place, and the case had no legs to stand on. Meaning that the 320 same-sex couples that have wed since March can keep their marriage certificates – and that many more will follow.
While this alone is cause for celebration, next week the Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of adoption by same-sex couples. So it’s not over quite yet. Armando Martinez, the president of a Catholic lawyers’ group, has made clear how important it is to religious bigots to take adoption rights away from gay and lesbian Mexico City residents: "That would directly affect the rights of children. We will seek impeachment hearings against any justices that vote in favor of adoption." A win on gay adoption rights would be huge in a country heavily influenced by an antigay Catholic hierarchy.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed – not just that adoption is upheld, but that the final ruling will pave the way toward spreading marriage equality throughout Mexico. We have a long, long way to go, but the future just seems to be getting brighter for full gay and lesbian equality.