The following comes from a story published February 18 on BuzzFeed.com.
Denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutionally discriminatory, Mexico’s Supreme Court announced in a sweeping ruling made public Monday.
The ruling not only makes a strong statement about Mexican law’s treatment of equal protection guarantees, it also relies heavily on civil rights rulings handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Although several justices of the American court take pride in not caring what foreign courts say, any who read the Mexican decision will find the court makes an impassioned case for the United States to follow its lead.
Writing for a unanimous tribunal, Minister Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea invoked the U.S. cases Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education to argue for marriage equality in a way that American activists would be overjoyed to see from a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws against interracial marriage in 1967, Zaldívar wrote (translated from its original Spanish):
The historical disadvantages that homosexuals have suffered have been well recognized and documented: public harassment, verbal abuse, discrimination in their employment and in access to certain services, in addition to their exclusion to some aspects of public life. In this sense … when they are denied access to marriage it creates an analogy with the discrimination that interracial couples suffered in another era. In the celebrated case Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court argued that “restricting marriage rights as belonging to one race or another is incompatible with the equal protection clause” under the US constitution. In connection with this analogy, it can be said that the normative power of marriage is worth little if it does grant the possibility to marry the person one chooses.
Zaldívar also wrote that it would also be contrary to the principles of the 1954 school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education to restrict same-sex couples to civil unions or domestic partnerships while barring them from marriage….
Despite its breadth, this ruling will have only a small immediate impact in Mexico.
Technicalities of the country’s legal system mean that only the three couples who brought this case will be able to marry right away. Mexico City is still the only jurisdiction inside Mexico where marriage between same-sex couples is fully legal; several more lawsuits will have to be brought before that right is available nationwide.
Unlike in the United States, it takes more than one ruling from Mexico’s Supreme Court to strike down a law—the court must rule the same way in five separate cases before a law falls. This ruling concerns three separate cases; it will take two more for any same-sex couple in Oaxaca to be able to wed easily, and then the process may have to be repeated in other states. But this precedent means this is a procedural issue, not a legal one.
For the lawyer who brought this suit, Méndez, the verdict is still a big win.
“Without a doubt, we have made history … in Mexico. The next step is to extend this experience to other parts of the country,” he said.
To read the entire story, click here.