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Guadalajara set for first same-sex wedding

December 9, 2013

Two lesbians are about to make history by becoming the first same-sex couple to marry in the state of Jalisco when they tie the knot in Guadalajara on Saturday, December 14.

The civil registry office in Guadalajara refused to marry Zaira Viridiana de la O Gomez and Martha Sandoval Blanco in March, citing the Civil Code of Jalisco which defines marriage exclusively as the union between a man and a woman, but the couple argued that this violated a constitutional amendment from June 2011 which banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Following the lead of Mexico’s Supreme Court, which had previously ruled in favor of same-sex couples in Oaxaca under the same legal grounds, a federal judge issued an injunction obliging the Guadalajara civil registry to permit the ceremony.

“This resolution constitutes a historic and momentous event in the political, legal and social life of the state of Jalisco, recognizing that lesbian women not only have the right to be treated the same way as heterosexual people, but also have the right not to be discriminated against when it comes to forming a lesbian-headed family,” said Guadalupe Ramos Ponce, coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights (CLADEM).

However, the head of the Guadalajara civil registry office has still sought to block the wedding from taking place by preventing the Jalisco family Development Agency (DIF) from providing de la O and Sandoval with pre-marital counseling.

“We are very concerned and we are outraged at the actions being undertaken by the official from the civil registry, completely overstepping his duties and trying to prevent the DIF from granting the couple premarital counseling. This premarital counseling is a requirement under the law and should be granted by the DIF in any state,” Ramos told local media outlet Notisistema.

If the registrar continues to obstruct the process he will be reported for contempt and could even be removed from his position, Ramos added. “We would take all legal actions against the civil registry official for this contempt and failure to abide by the injunction,” she said.

Further support for same-sex marriage in Jalisco came from the unlikely source of Israeli President Shimon Peres, who visited Guadalajara to attend the International Book Fair (FIL) last week.

“Homosexuals are human beings too and they have rights. We have no authority to take away (their) rights,” Peres told the Yediot Aharonot newspaper during his stay in Mexico.

The marriage of de la O and Sandoval is set to become a major precedent, paving the way for more same-sex couples to marry in Jalsico, one of Mexico’s most Catholic and conservative states. It will also enhance the momentum behind Mexico’s LGBT rights movement and the campaign for same-sex marriage to be permitted across the entire country.

Same-sex marriage was first legalized in the federal district of Mexico City in 2010, while Colima became the first state to formally introduce same-sex unions in July this year. The law in Colima provides homosexual couples with the same rights as married heterosexual couples, while preserving the term “marriage” as a union exclusively between a man and a woman.

Similar but more limited legislation was eventually passed in Jalisco last month, drawing a rabid reaction from the right. While falling short of legalizing gay marriage or adoption, the new law permits same-sex couples to enter a legal contract enhancing their inheritance rights and eligibility for social security benefits.

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