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Orlando, Veracruz… and the Bishops

18 June 2016

The massacre at Madames’ bar in Veracruz three weeks ago (22 May) was initially written off as “narco-violence” both here and abroad, then promptly disappeared in the media.  It took another gay bar massacre… this one written off as the U.S.’s favorite rationale for mass murder, “middle eastern terrorism” basically overlooked by the media (both here and abroad) until the Pulse massacre made gay bar massacres a thing.

madameWhile it is much more difficult to report on crimes here (reporters, for their own — and their family’s — protection often limited to “official” sources) and we don’t even have the body count, as in Orlando, it’s obvious the “official explanation” is, at most, only a small part of the story.  The “official story” given out about the disappearances of the Ayotzinapa students, which makes one suspicious of official stories in general, reportage on the event overlooked the tense political situation in Veracruz, and… only after the fact… noted the toxic effects of (largely imported) homophobic propaganda here.

Although the Catholic Church hierarchy here has come under fire for its reactionary positions (even by the Pope, who openly criticized the Bishops, and snubbed Cardinal Rivera during the recent Papal visit) in post-Orlando media coverage,  the “after-the-fact” claim that the Church swung the recent election away from the PRI, based on Enrique Peña Neito’s support for a same-sex marriage clause in the Constitution, is far fetched.

norbertoAs it is, Peña Neito’s call is more turd-polishing than anything.  Gay marriages have been the law of the land since 2010, but because of an anomaly in our Constitution, the Supreme Court cannot order states to change their own laws.  However, the Supreme Court ruling is binding, and every federal judge in the country must grant an amparo (injunction) to any same-sex couple who seeks a marriage in a state where such marriages are still not permitted.  When the abysmal state of human rights in Mexico under the Peña Neito administration became a story, and started to filter into foreign media, his call for a constitutional change was a painless way of giving him a “liberal” image.

In reality, while sane-sex marriages are performed in all states but Hidalgo (which recognizes marriages in other states), where laws are still on the books limiting marriage to opposite-gender couples, it has more to do with political inertia or party politics than to any real objections to such marriages.  The poor showing by the PRI had more to do with widespread corruption (especially in Veracruz) than any presidential pronouncement.

indexThe Bishops who have allied themselves to the political elite and the status quo, can read the writing on the wall.  With the “Confessional Party”, PAN morphing with the “liberal” PRD, and the Papacy (along with much of the faithful) looking for a change in leadership in the Church, need an issue to rally the people (and maintain their influence).  Interestingly enough that they’ve had to ally with the Mormon hierarchy, the more conservative Evangelicals and the Orthodox on this, but it shows me that gay marriage — a done deal in all but Constitutional mention — never has been, nor will be,  more than a minor controversy.

While anti-marriage voters are only a minority, in pushing the issue (if the Bishops were indeed, as they now claim, making this a political issue — which would be illegal by the way) the Churchmen are giving support the the most homophobic among us.  The arguments against same-sex marriage that I’ve seen, seem to be cut-n-pasted from U.S. propaganda.  The foreign groups mentioned in Jenaro Villamil’s Proceso article (original here) tie back to groups like “National Organization For Marriage” that depend on U.S. contributors to keep themselves in business.  Gay marriage having become a moot issue in the U.S. (aside from die-hards who are every day less and less relevant to anyone) exporting their causes at least keeps their board of directors employed a bit longer.

As in the U.S., as the legal position of GLBTQ people has improved, there has been an increase in violent backlash.  Part is due just to less reluctance to report violence directed at persons because of their sexual orientation, but also due to the tendency to turn to more and more violent reactions as one’s beliefs are marginalized.

What happened in Orlando appears to have been a perfect storm — a self-loathing gay man (perhaps the result of religious intolerance, in his own religion, and more to the fact, against his religion) who was also known to be prone to violent, having easy access to high-powered weapons.  What happened in Veracruz is harder to figure out (access to the types of weapons used being much more difficult than in the United States, though that’s where they come from) but in both, the intersection of organized homophobia in a politically tense climate cannot be overlooked, nor should it be.

I urge everyone to read Villamil’s “La Santa Homofobia en México” (Proceso, 14-June-2016) or the English translation by Rebecca Nannery, “Mexican Catholic Church Promotes Homophobia” (Mexico Voices, 16-June-2016) for an overview of the issue.

Additional sources:

Desde de Fe


El Universal


2 Comments leave one →
  1. 18 June 2016 11:14 pm

    “… *sane-sex* (?) marriages are performed….”

    Wow! Looking forward to these!



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