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Some more notes about marriage equality in Mexico

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Yesterday, I wrote about some great news out of Mexico, with the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) ruling in favor of three same-sex couples in the southwestern state of Oaxaca seeking the right to marry.  After the decision was announced, there was some question about the scope and effect of the ruling, so I figured it was worth revisiting the story (with another day’s worth of information) to clarify what exactly it means.

Michael Lavers of the Washington Blade wrote a great piece yesterday with some good background details on the decision.  The suits filed on behalf of the three couples sought what is called an “amparo” in the Mexican legal system, which is essentially a request to have a court require local authorities to protect the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.  To my reading, these amparos are essentially human rights complaints that can be brought against local laws or acts by local authorities.  The biggest caveat, though, is that an amparo only apples to the specific plaintiffs and the authorities against which they’ve brought the complaint.

More importantly, each individual case bringing an amparo complaint is called a tesis (thesis), and the Mexican constitutional system requires similar rulings in five tesis to crate what is called a jurisprudencia, or precedent.  A jurisprudencia would stand as binding precedent on lower courts–but only in the state in which they are brought, the AP notes.

The decisions in the Oaxacan cases mean there are already three tesis on the marriage equality issue now, so it will take two more to obtain a jurisprudencia binding on all couples in Oaxaca.  Additional cases would need to be brought in Mexico’s other states. Still, Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, who represented the three couples, told the Blade, “These cases set a precedent that can be invoked in any other state in Mexico.  While it is not obligatory for those who must resolve these new cases, there is a high possibility that the result will be the same as what we have obtained in Oaxaca.”

As former Politico reporter J. Lester Feder wrote on his blog After Marriage, one of the Supreme Court justices (technically called ministers) who ruled in the case told CNN en Español that the court’s ruling could have a ripple effect across Mexico in a matter of ‘months’:

“The three cases are effective with respect to the state of Oaxaca. Nevertheless, the position that we have in the Supreme Court as the nation’s highest court, it is foreseeable that if other people of other [states] contesting a code [similar to Oaxaca’s], the court will reiterate its criteria and that, with the passage of months, will create jurisprudencia that will become binding. While the Supreme Court continues to maintain this criteria, legislation of different states of our federation can be challenged and declared unconstitutional as happened today.”

Also this week, in Colombia, a marriage equality bill passed the first legislative hurdle on its way to becoming a law.   A measure in Uruguay passed out of committee last week, and could be voted in the Chamber of Deputies on December 11.  The Uruguayan Senate will likely not consider the bill until next year.

And, of course, here in the U.S., we eagerly await possible news from the Supreme Court today regarding the marriage equality cases.  Stay tuned!


  • 1. Str8Grandmother  |  December 7, 2012 at 8:16 am

    An idea is to create a topic that says, "The Waiting to Hear Topic"
    It would be a spot for us to leave comments saying how we are waiting today for SCOTUS waiting on pins and needles

  • 2. chris from CO  |  December 7, 2012 at 8:20 am

    I am nervously waiting to see what happens today I hope that they saved these cases last becuase they know it is going to be very important cases.

  • 3. New  |  December 7, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Yes !!! "The Waiting to Hear Topic" would be very helpful.
    I also think that our groups should start making some "noise" about this.

  • 4. Seth from Maryland  |  December 7, 2012 at 8:55 am

    i have a feeling we are going to know something today, at least about doma anyway,

  • 5. Eric  |  December 7, 2012 at 9:02 am

    House Republicans spent $1.5 million litigating these cases, we can't expect SCOUTS to be able to review and discuss them all in one six hour conference. I suspect they've been discussing the cases for some time, but will decide today to keep the docket moving forward.

  • 6. Bob  |  December 7, 2012 at 10:19 am

    me too!!!!! great to see STR8Grandmother at the top of the list,,,, waiting and watching,,,, foo!!! from France to Canada,,,,, who else is out there waiting and watching???????

  • 7. Bob  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm


  • 8. Sammy  |  December 7, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Top of scotusblog says to "stand by" for anyticipated news on same-sex marriage…. lets hope!!!

  • 9. Sammy  |  December 7, 2012 at 11:02 am

    There is a live feed up on scotusblog showing the upcoming orders!!!

  • 10. Sammy  |  December 7, 2012 at 11:16 am

    nothing again….. 🙁

  • 11. Sammy  |  December 7, 2012 at 11:16 am

    oh actually not sure, they are still waiting!

  • 12. Leo  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Now saying Prop 8 and Windsor both granted.

  • 13. PDx Str8 supporter  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Orders a in…Perry and WIndsor have been granted.

  • 14. Seth from Maryland  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    prop 8 is granted

  • 15. MightyAcorn  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Sigh. Sad. More waiting. Not a merry season now. I hope Edie Windsor lives long enough to see her victory, and that nothing happens to my friends who need marriage before the case is final. <3

  • 16. Seth from Maryland  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    plus the standing issue on on perry will be looked at, interesting

  • 17. Bob  |  December 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    And now they will defend those victories before the highest court in the nation.

  • 18. Mike in Baltimore  |  December 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    And that court would be?

    Considering that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation IS the highest court in the nation of Mexico, and it's a state in Mexico being challenged, is there a higher court in Mexico?

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