Rush to the court house in Mexico

Less than a week after the Mexican Supreme Court ruled against Oaxaca’s ban on gay marriage, new couples are beginning to sue for the right to marry throughout Mexico.

A story appeared the same afternoon of the court ruling that same-sex couples tried to get marriage licenses in Toluca, capital of the State of Mexico (which is next to the federal district of Mexico City).

And activists who have been studying the issue for months are laying the foundation for court cases nationwide.

This is important because last week’s ruling only directly affects the three couples who brought the suit. The head of Oaxaca’s civil registry, Haydeé Reyes Soto, said in an interview last week that the state legislature or the courts had to do more to change the law for everyone. She said:

I can’t, as director, invent a new norm. Whether I’d like to or not I have to stick to the law. The debate belongs to society and the local congress.

This ruling can only be broadened through many more court cases. (Some details on the technicalities here.) And advocates are wasting no time.

In Nuevo León, which includes the city of Monterrey, two couples could seek to marry as early as next week, said Paulina Lagüera, a lawyer with the organization Genero, Ética, and Salud Sexual. They would have presented the cases sooner, she said, but they were waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Oaxaca case to guide their approach.

“Our civil code is very similar to the one in Oaxaca,” she said. “We’re going to use a similar argument” to the ones that prevailed before the Supreme Court.

The path ahead is a little unclear because of modifications to the legal process made in last year’s constitutional reform. The Supreme Court essentially said that codes limiting marriage to a man and a woman must be interpreted as meaning “two people,” but it didn’t invalidate these codes outright. Lagüera said,

Obviously the ruling is good, but it wasn’t that good. It would have been perfect if they had said [this language] was invalid… but I think they didn’t do it because they didn’t know how to proceed if they did.

Activists in Yucatán, where gay marriage legislation has already been introduced, are also looking for ways to build on the legal victory, the website Anodis reported.

And the lawyer who first brought the case in Oaxaca, Alex Alí Méndez Días announced yesterday that a fourth couple would seek to marry in Oaxaca. He tweeted in Spanish:

A new couple in Oaxaca is looking for #equalmarriage, soon we will present the application ;-)

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