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Mexico City Gays Gain National Marriage and Adoption Rights

By L.K. Regan

Many of us were saddened to see a stay reissued in California, once again preventing gay marriages there from going forward. In fact, that story has taken so much attention that it would be easy to miss what has been happening in Mexico, where a gay marriage law that began in Mexico City has taken on national proportions, now extending to adoption.

In March of this year, Mexico City put into effect its own same-sex marriage law, and though it extended only to the capital, it was a sweeping piece of legislation. That original law gave married gay couples the right to apply jointly for bank loans, to inherit one another's assets, to be covered by each other's insurance—and to adopt children together. Marriages swiftly went forward, but with their status outside of Mexico City unclear.

Earlier this month, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled in a 8-2 decision that all 31 Mexican states must recognize the same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City (though those states would not themselves be forced to marry gay couples). In their decision, the judges referred to the Mexican constitution, which includes an article requiring the states to honor each others' contracts. In their ruling, however, the judges held off on deciding the legality of the adoption clause in the original law. Ironically, the grounds for potentially withholding adoption rights was discrimination—against the adopted children, who the court felt might face social ostracism.

Now, the Mexican Supreme Court has offered a final ruling on the adoption issue, and by a 9-2 margin have decided to do the right thing. Same-sex married couple adoptions performed in Mexico City must be honored by all of the other Mexican states. "Given that the interests of the child must come first, the proposed reform is constitutional," said Supreme Court Justice Arturo Zaldivar. And gay rights activists were delighted. Said Jaime Lopez Vela of the group Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transsexual and Transgender Agenda, "Today, institutionalized homophobia has been buried.... We are happy, because now we have the same rights and responsibilities of any other married couple."

The controversies are not entirely over, however; on Tuesday, Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard threatened to sue Roman Catholic Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez over comments the cardinal made suggesting that Mayor Ebrard had bribed the Mexican Supreme Court to decide in favor of gay adoption. Mayor Ebrard demanded an apology to prevent him from filing suit. Will he get his apology, or will there be further legal action? More to follow....