Mexico’s Supreme Court quietly legalizes same-sex marriage

In a little-publicized “jurisprudential thesis” issued earlier this month, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are discriminatory and, therefore, unconstitutional. The thesis comes after multiple same-sex couples had won their right to marry by appealing to the nation’s highest court.

The ruling was not strong enough to overturn any existing state laws, meaning that couples denied marriage licenses will have to go through the court systems individually. However, this was still heralded as good news by The New York Times, which described the series of rulings as having “had the effect of legalizing gay marriage in Mexico without enshrining it in law.”

Support for same-sex marriage in Mexico eclipsed the 50 percent threshold in recent years, a shift that has mirrored trends in public opinion in many other countries. The ruling adds Mexico to a growing list of Latin American countries that allow same-sex marriage, which currently includes Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Ecuador allows same-sex civil unions, and Chile is set to follow suit later this year.

Rainbow Mexico, via Wikimedia Commons

Rainbow Mexico, via Wikimedia Commons

Mexico’s ruling, along with Ireland’s referendum that granted its same-sex couples the right to marry in May, is a major blow to the Catholic Church. Over 80 percent of Mexican citizens are Catholic, and they support marriage equality at rates identical to the general public (unsurprising when the demographic makes up such a large portion of the overall sample).

That Catholicism is not predictive of opposition to marriage equality suggests that the Church simply lacks credibility on the issue. To the extent that rank and file Catholics pay attention to the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, they either aren’t listening or are outwardly disagreeing.

Which is fine, even for the Church, given that their condemnation of homosexuality is wrong on their own theological terms.

Mexico’s rulings also come in advance of what is expected to be a much more widely-reported affirmation of marriage equality by the United States Supreme Court later this month. Now we get to hurry up and wait for that ruling.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • goulo

    According to http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/family/couple/marriage/index_en.htm
    “some countries recognise religious marriage as equivalent to civil
    marriage, others do not. If you move to another country after having
    entered into a religious marriage only, it is important to check the consequences for your marital status.”

    E.g. AFAIK in Poland, a religious marriage ceremony can suffice to be legally married, with no civil procedure needed.

  • nicho

    “Marriage is a civil contract.” –Brigham Young

  • Yes, and that is also mostly the case here in the U.S., although the homophobes are constantly trying to make us forget this detail.

    Sure, we’ve made it so that in most locales, a minister, pastor, rabbi, imam or other member of clergy can sign the marriage license as the officiant. But there’s a whole list of secular, non-clergy officials who have similar authority, including mayors, judges, county clerks, temporarily deputized individuals, etc.

    I think one of the main differences here and now is America’s wingnut contingent is happy to lie about their position and reasons for their objections. They know damned well that nobody is going to sue an Evangelical or Baptist or Catholic church because they won’t perform a same-sex marriage — unless of course said church collects money claiming they will, then cancels and refuses to refund the deposit.

  • Indigo

    ¡Viva México!

  • nicho

    I think in Spain, while marriage is a civil procedure, the churches are empowered to do it in the name of the government. So, you only need to go through one ceremony.

  • emjayay

    That’s pretty much the deal in most countries, like EU ones for example, isn’t it? Has anyone ever looked into which if any other countries delegate a civil function (optionally) to priests and ministers etc.?

  • nicho

    An important thing to remember here is that in Mexico, marriage is a civil event. Everyone must be married by civil authorities first. Then, they can go to a church and be married. The churches are not the gatekeepers of marriage, as churches in the US like to imagine that they are. Religious marriage ceremonies are an add-on, not essential to the marriage. This probably made the ruling easier. Churches are still free to refuse marriage to anyone they want, but it really doesn’t make any difference except to members of that church.

  • Wonderful news.

  • Max Mills

    Wow, great

  • nicho

    No wonder the State Department is telling people not to go to Mexico.

  • nicho

    Meanwhile, SCOTUS handed down three decisions today — none of them having to do with same-sex marriage. Next decision day is Thursday.

  • Bill_Perdue

    That and the Irish referendum should help us with the Supremes. And congratulations to our Mexican brothers and sisters.

    What influences the Supremes most is popular pressure from inside and outside the US. The recent vote in Ireland will hopefully have a profound effect on the upcoming marriage decision by the Supremes. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) was the product of steady pressure by the black community and by leftists abroad who depicted the US as a racist backwater. (60 years later, that’s still true, the US is a racist backwater, as bad as the zionist colony in Palestine and the neo-colonialist regime in South Africa.) Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. (1973) and Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) were likewise influenced by domestic and foreign politics, not by the party affiliation of the Supremes, who are, after all, just robed politicians.

    The pro-marriage decisions by the state Supremes in Massachusetts and California were rendered by Republican judges. It’s the level of pressure, not the party affliction, of judges that determines their decisions.

  • UncleBucky

    Done deal? Yahooooo!

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