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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Mexico City grants gay couples civil unions

On March 16, after nearly seven years of litigation, legislators in Mexico City passed a new law permitting same sex couples the right to civil union. This law, which grants gay couples pension and inheritance rights, is generally believed to mark the beginning of a new age of plurality in Mexico, despite mounting opposition from both President Calderon’s conservative party and the Roman Catholic Church. However, because most cities in Mexico, the capital included, are governed by left-wing parties more than the national government, Calderon and the church may have difficulty suppressing the impact of this case as it ripples outward from Mexico City.

“With this law, a history of exclusion comes to an end. Today, the love that before did not speak its name has now entered into the public spotlight,” said journalist Antonio Medina to BBC News. Medina and his partner, Jorge Cerpa, were one of the first couples to take advantage of the new law.

To the relief of conservatives, however, the law distinguishes civil union from marriage by not granting gay couples the right to adopt. Claiming that traditional family values will now be jeopardized, numerous conservative Catholic objectors are flooding the streets of Mexico’s major cities to voice their complaints.

“It is simply not the will of God to have acts of homosexuality,” said Armando Martinez Gomez, president of the Association of Catholic Lawyers, to BBC News. “We are not against gay people, but we believe a union between a man and a woman is for the creation of children.”

Meanwhile, other states across Mexico are starting to follow the capital’s example. The deeply religious state of Puebla, whose capital is known for its 365 Catholic churches, is even beginning to mull over gay rights legislation. The northern border state of Coahuila has already passed its own civil union law, which was modeled after the one framed in the capital but put into effect nearly two weeks before it.

Also, couples who have registered under Coahuila’s law enjoy the state’s protection of their rights wherever they choose to live in Mexico – a stipulation that the capital’s law does not include.

“There is going to be a domino effect across the country,” said David Sanchez, a federal congressman with the Democratic Revolution Party, who is openly gay, to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “This movement cannot be stopped.”

However, members of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, an organization keen on preserving family values, are among the many who still believe otherwise.

“We are dealing with a death blow to the family,” said PAN President Esther Quintana to The San Diego Tribune. “What comes next? Permitting homosexuals to adopt children?”

Of course, gay adoption rights are among what many activists and legislators hope will ultimately succeed the passing of the civil union law. What is frustrating to many civil union advocates is the tendency of conservatives to attack the law on moral, rather than legal premises. When dealing with legislative matters, this often makes for a tenuous argument.

“I think the only argument that one could legitimately make (against gay adoption rights),” said Theatre Studies Chair Jack Zerbe, “is that given the nature of what it means to develop from an infant to an adult, children should have a close relationship with both sexes.”

With this said, opponents of gay civil liberties might demonstrate more prudence if they approached the subject from more of a psychological than biblical standpoint. Given Mexico’s deep Roman Catholic roots, however, such a shift in perspective could prove to be a challenge.

“If they’re going to say that children shouldn’t be allowed to grow up in a single-sex family, then are they going to take children away from single-parent dwellings too?” said Zerbe. “It’s the same logic.

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