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Mexican Supreme Court rules unanimously in favor of same-sex couples seeking marriage equality

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

The Supreme Court of Mexico unanimously ruled yesterday that the wording of the marriage law in the southwestern state of Oaxaca must be construed to read that marriages in the state are “between two people,” as opposed to a man and a woman, ruling in favor of three same-sex couples seeking to wed there, Animal Politico reported.

As the blog After Marriage noted, the ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), Mexico’s highest federal court, does not immediately strike down laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples in all of Mexico’s states, since the SCJN cannot strike down laws in all the states the way the U.S. Supreme Court can.  And it is unclear whether or not the ruling actually changes the law at all, with some sources noting that the ruling did not explicitly change the Oaxacan law (Article 143).

Nevertheless, the lawyer who represented the couples, Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, said that a win in the case would likely mean that other marriage equality bans in Mexico would fall as well.  At this point, it is not evident whether every gay couple in the country would have to sue to obtain a marriage license, or whether future lower court rulings could establish the Supreme Court precedent in the states.  Regardless, the SCJN ruling marks the conclusion of a series of legal challenges brought by same-sex couples in Oaxaca since April 2012.

In 2009, Mexico City (which is a federal district with a similar political status to Washington, D.C.’s in the U.S.) passed a law allowing same-sex couples to wed which went into effect the year later.  In two landmark rulings handed down in August 2010, the SCJN held that Mexico City’s new law was constitutional and that marriages obtained in Mexico City must be recognized nation-wide.

Frontera, the largest daily newspaper in Tijuana, covered the news in a piece called “SCJN paves the way for weddings throughout the county,” writing:

“The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ordered the Oaxacan Civil Reigistry to register the marriages of three same-sex couples, a development that paves the road for the further recognition of same-sex unions in the rest of the country.

“In a unanimous vote, the First Room of the Court struck Article 143 of the Oaxaca Civil Code, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and establishes that its central purpose is procreation.”

Today, after the court’s announcement, representatives from all the major Mexican political parties in Oaxaca (including the conservative PAN), endorsed a change to Article 143 that would allow for marriage equality.  “This is a historic, watershed moment for Oaxaca,” said Elías Cortés López, a legislator from the center-left PRI party.

This welcome news is certainly something to celebrate, and we’ll follow any other developments as the ruling’s outcome is extended to other Mexican states.


  • 1. Str8Grandmother  |  December 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

    I love that it was UNANIMOUS!

  • 2. davep  |  December 6, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Yes, this is great news!

  • 3. Seth from Maryland  |  December 6, 2012 at 8:53 am


  • 4. Seth from Maryland  |  December 6, 2012 at 8:55 am

    still i wonder if this is going to effect all Mexican states

  • 5. Steve  |  December 6, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Not directly. But people in other states can bring their own lawsuits and point to this one

  • 6. davep  |  December 6, 2012 at 8:53 am

    … In other news, the state of Washington began handing out marriage licenses to same sex couples last night just after midnight. Some news reports are describing a really jubilant scene with hundreds of couples lined up around the block to receive their licenses. Can we get some pictures or video?

  • 7. Eric Koszyk  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Here you go:

    I think it's awesome that, in King County, the marriage licenses have a picture of Martin Luther King Jr on them!

  • 8. Eric Koszyk  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:36 am


  • 9. Eric Koszyk  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Dan Savage is now married (again). At least non federally.

  • 10. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  December 6, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Well, after the three day waiting period they can GET married 😉

  • 11. Gregory in SLC  |  December 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    YAY for WASHINGTON!!! think of you and Robert!

  • 12. davep  |  December 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Thanks Eric! These are great!

  • 13. Seth from Maryland  |  December 6, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Marriage Equality Bill Advances in First of Four Votes in Colombia
    A Colombian Senate committee has approved a marriage equality measure, advancing it for further consideration, On Top reports:

    With a 10-5 vote, the First Committee (Comision Primera) has approved Senator Armando Benedetti's proposed measure. Benedetti's proposal originally sought to create civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. He has since altered the language to marriage. However, Benedetti's bill would not give married gay couples the right to adopt children.

    Tuesday's vote is the first of four needed for the measure to become law.

    “In this country homosexuals already have economic rights and social security, therefore it is time to move toward matrimony,” Benedetti is quoted as saying by El Espectador.

    In July 2011, Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that the legislature must pass a same-sex marriage bill within two years or the courts will legalize it.

    Read more:

  • 14. jpmassar  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:21 am

    What is it about not being able to adopt children? The French proposal also has this restriction, IIRC. What possible justification do people have for allowing same-sex couples to marry but not to adopt children (I assume jointly) ? How can that be at all controversial once you have same-sex marriage?

  • 15. Seth from Maryland  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

    hmmm, yea i know ,however theres a challege to the adoption ban before the same supreme court who pretty much got the marriage equality issue on a faster track toward passage, there should be a ruling sometime in 2013

  • 16. Steve  |  December 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

    If the French pass a bill without adoption provisions (which may not be the case), a court case will take care of that. Last time the French supreme court issued a Nevada-esque opinion saying that there is no discrimination because unmarried opposite-sex couples are also forbidden from adopting. If gay couples can get married, even they have to admit that discrimination is taking place.

  • 17. Eric Koszyk  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Can someone please clarify?

    Is marriage equality basically the law in Mexico, at least for those wealthy enough to travel to Mexico City where it is legal?

    Can any Mexican get married in Mexico City or do you have to be a legal resident of Mexico City in order to get married there?

    Does anyone know for sure?

  • 18. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:27 am

    According to the article I read yesterday, the Mexican Supreme Court can not set national law like here in the US. However, with the ruling they made yesterday concerning marriage equality would easily be upheld in every state once a challange to the ban was made.
    And yes, anyone can get married in Mexico City regardless of residencey in another state…per my understanding at least.

  • 19. Eric Koszyk  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:35 am

    So basically, all gay and lesbian Mexicans can get married to the person they love, as long as they have the money to travel to Mexico City?

  • 20. Sammy  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Yes and that is because of a previous ruling by Mexican Supreme Court that said marriages performed in any state (or city state as was the case) must be recognized in all states. So if you get married in Mexico City or now Oaxaca then your marriage is valid across Mexico!

  • 21. Eric Koszyk  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Thanks Mark and Sammy.

  • 22. Bill S.  |  December 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    The state of Quintana Roo has also legalized same-sex marriage.

  • 23. Carpool_Cookie  |  December 7, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Supposedly Marilyn Monroe ran off to Mexico for a secret wedding (to Robert Slatzer) (??) that was later kind of smudged out of the records when they changed their minds a few days later.

    They made a TV movie about this once, and it was so silly, because it was based on a book the guy wrote after her death…and he says it was all HIS idea to annul it. So you have this scene where the young Marilyn is practically writhing at this guy's feet, clutching his knees, and begging, "Robert! I LOVE YOOOOUUUUUUUU! I want to be with you foreeeeeeeeeever! We must stay married….!!!" and the guy is like, "No, Marilyn….we must think of your CAREER!!!"

    My friend Janie started snorting during this scene, saying, Yeah, right. MARILYN MONROE is begging this man to marry her and he's saying NO????????"

    The whole story's a bit sketchy. BUT ANYWAY…..Yes, let's all run off to Mexico and get married like Marilyn!!!

  • 24. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

    We here in the US – land of the free, are surrounded by people freer than we.
    Just amazes me…..
    Canada and Mexico are shinning examples of what should be
    BRAVO Mexico!!

  • 25. Straight Dave  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

    John 8:32 "…the truth will set you free."

    One problem in the US is that truth is in short supply and is not accorded the respect it deserves. Witness the recent presidential campaign as one example. Too many people, when faced with facts that undermine their own uninformed preconceptions or conflict with their personal preferences, treat truth as an optional commodity and consider made-up stories to be equally as valid.

    If we dealt only in truth, freedoms would flow much more easily and naturally. Falsehoods are deliberately used to obstruct that.

    And yes, I am also amazed at our relative position in the world, especially in the western hemisphere. And disappointed that we are not severely ashamed of it.

  • 26. Steve  |  December 6, 2012 at 11:43 am

    The US has never been a bastion for human rights. That's just self-congratulatory, jingoistic BS people say to make themselves feel better.

  • 27. Sammy  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Perhaps being sandwiched between equality will help seep it into the US! Just look at northern border to Canada, people in those states can see the real effects of marriage equality, now the southern states can do the same with Mexico!

  • 28. Straight Dave  |  December 6, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Unfortunately, attitudes in the US South have much more to do with their own history and education and culture than with proximity to Mexico or Canada. I wish you were correct, but most of the US rarely takes their cues from other countries.

    But within the US, I do expect Oregon to be influenced by neighbors WA and CA (whenever that happens), and RI to finally pull its socks up now that they really do stick out like a tiny, isolated, very sore thumb.

    I really believe we have passed a tipping point with this election. and it will become a flood once DOMA falls. Here's to an even better 2013. I would love to see NJ override Christie's veto.

  • 29. Walter  |  December 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    The Indian culture of Oaxaca has long been friendly toward gay individuals. The Roman Catholic Church has been the force fighting for bigotry and intolerance. Look up the “Muxe”.

  • 30. F Young  |  December 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    There is an additional important element of this story.

    This decision of the Supreme Court was not based solely on Mexico's constitution. It was also based on the American Convention on Human Rights, which is an international treaty that almost all Latin American countries have ratified.

    In a landmark case last February, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the Convention prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, in a case involving a Chilean lesbian who had been denied custody of her children.

    This latest decision by Mexico's Supreme Court relied in part on the Chilean precedent and extended it to same-sex marriage. This could potentially have an impact in all 25 countries that have ratified the Convention (but not Canada, Cuba or the USA, which have not ratified it).

    PS It is sort of ironic that the USA never ratified the Convention, since the USA signed it and it is after all called the "American" Convention on Human Rights.

  • 31. Deeelaaach  |  December 8, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    I have no idea why it was named the American Convention on Human Rights, but it's conceivable to me that it was named not after America, e.g. the United States of America, but after the American continents – North and South.

    Even so, it's still ironic that the country so often referred to as America internally and possibly externally also, did not ratify the convention.

  • 32. Pick up coach  |  February 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm

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