What if they had a cultural revolution and nobody freaked?
Back in 2012, when Mexico City passed the first same-sex marriage bill, the howls from the “traditional values” crowd… predicting the END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT were met throughout the country by the quick passage in state legislatures of “one man-one woman” marriage laws. Here in Sinaloa, where I gather things move even more slowly than in the rest of Mexico, the legislature basically ignored the issue, assuming that what happens in Mexico City stays in Mexico City. However, one the Supremes ruled that under Mexico’s equivalent of the U.S. Constitution’s “good faith and credit clause” that a legal marriage in one jurisdiction is valid everywhere in the Republic — meaning that state and federal benefits for married couples would be available to “THOSE PEOPLE” from Mexico City — the state legislature got around to passing a “one man-one woman” marriage bill in January 2013. Which was about the time the lawsuits, alleging discrimination on the basis of what our Constitution calls “affectional preference”as well as gender, began working their ways through the Federal courts to the Supreme Court.
At this point, the Supremes, having ruled again and again and again that when the Constitution says there is equality before the law regardless of “affectional preference” it meant what it said, and a few states tried to weasel their way into creating a “separate but equal” form of marriage in some variation of in Colima they dubbed “Conjugal Bonds“. While basically these gave the same legal protections of what is known in Mexico under the lovely legal term “conubinage” (shacking up with rights of survivorship to joint property), Sinaloa’s marriage bill precluded even legal recognition for same sex concubines.
However, “separate but (almost) equal” was never a legal doctrine here, and civil unions, while still on the books in some places, are not considered the same thing. Coahuila, which surprised everyone by being the first state in Mexico to create any sort of legal recognition for same-sex couples, last month simply redefined the existing “Pacts of Civil Solidarity” as marriage, and did away with the whole charade.
With the Supreme Courts ruling in state after state that marriage must not be restricted by gender, Sinaloa was, for once, somewhat proactive. Given that the heavens did not open, and the sky did not fall as more and more state legislatures either voluntarily, or under Supreme Court order, did away with two-gender marriage requirements — and, with three separate challenges to Sinaloa’s “one man-one woman” marriage laws reaching the Supreme Court in early March, PRI legislator Sandra Lara introduced a bill that would redefine marriage … and concubinage too… as being between two persons. Period.
Naturally, PAN politicians were the loudest to object, but surprisingly, some were supportive, if for no other reason that such a change was inevitable. While the likely outcome of the Surpreme Court ruling was already known two weeks ago, support for a change started coming form not just the usual sources like women’s groups, but from some unexpected places like the Archdiocese of Culiacán. In a rather guarded statement, Archdiocesan spokesman Esteban Robles Sánchez said that it was “a positive law” although he added that “natural law” (supposedly meaning the way things are now) is better.
It should be pointed out that what the Supremes did not directly order the state to change the two sentences in two paragraphs in the Family Law code… but they certainly made it clear that the Legislature needs to make that change. The ruling came down Thursday, and by Friday, the legislatures were scheduling an all-party conference committee to write the new paragraphs. The same governor who signed the one man-one woman bill will be the one signing the two people bill… probably within a few weeks at most. And, with the Sinaloan ruling, it’s clear that same sex marriage is legal everywhere in Mexico, even if most state legislatures haven’t quite gotten around to undoing discriminatory codes.