Mayor backs bill giving gay couples similar benefits to straights
MEXICO CITY Mexico City’s assembly voted to legally recognize gay civil unions, a measure that would provide gay couples with social benefits like those of married heterosexuals for the first time in the country’s history.
Mexico City Mayor Alejandro Encinas has spoken in favor of the bill approved Nov. 9, and was expected to sign it into law. A conservative group said it was considering seeking a court injunction against the measure.
The bill would grant gay couples inheritance and spousal rights and allow them to register their unions with civil authorities. Heterosexual couples can also be registered under the new law.
Same-sex marriage is still prohibited under Mexico City civil law.
Mexico City, the capital of Mexico with a population of 8.7 million, is a federal district similar to Washington, with its own legislature. It is governed by the left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, which has been promoting the measure for several years at the behest of gay activists.
“This law … does not require anyone else to change their thinking, nor does it hurt the concept of the nuclear family,” PRD legislator Juan Bustos said.
The legislature approved the measure 43-17, with five abstentions, with all opposition from the conservative National Action Party of President Vicente Fox and President-elect Felipe Calderon.
The Mexican Bishop’s Council has said that a civil unions law would be the first step on the road to legalizing gay marriages and adoptions by gays, while the conservative National Parents Union has characterized it as “aberrant.” About 90 percent of Mexicans are at least nominally Roman Catholic.
Legislators in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila introduced a similar bill this week.
PAN lawmaker Paula Adriana Soto said a Mexico City civil union law would simply “conceal a marriage between people of the same sex.”
As the assembly debate took place, members of the opposing sides rallied outside the legislative building, hurling insults at each other.
Jorge Serrano, of the National Pro-Life Committee, said his group would consider filing for an injunction in the next several days to prevent the law from going into effect.
“This is really something sad for our country and it is a direct attempt against the family, because it constitutes the legalization of homosexuality and obviously it is going to lead to an increase in this social wrong,” Serrano told The Associated Press.
Tito Vasconcelos, one of Mexico City’s leading gay activists, disagreed.
Vasconcelos said the law represents “Mexico’s entrance into the first world of democracy, along with other countries that recognize this type of union.”
If the law is enacted, Mexico will join the ranks of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, and the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, which have approved civil unions.
Federal lawmakers in Costa Rica and Colombia have debated similar measures.
Canada and the state of Massachusetts allow gay marriage. Vermont and Connecticut have legalized civil unions that give same-sex couples benefits and responsibilities similar to marriage.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, November 17, 2006.