A new choice for gay and lesbian couples in Mexico
By Ceci Connolly Original Print Publication: February, 2007
Here's an image to ponder: hordes of gay and lesbian couples streaming across the border from the United States into Mexico. To get married.
Sure, it might seem a bit far-fetched that same-sex couples would travel to the second largest Catholic nation in the world to legalize their unions. But if recent events--in both countries--are any indication, the reverse immigration scenario may not be so outlandish.
In the past three months, lawmakers in Mexico City and the northern state of Coahuila voted to recognize same sex civil unions. Beginning this spring, gay partners here will be able to make medical decisions for each other and collect pensions and other death benefits.
It isn't just Mexico. South Africa, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada allow civil unions. Most European nations--including former Soviet bloc countries such as Croatia--grant some legal rights to gay couples. Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that the government must recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad. And Uruguay is poised to become the first Latin American country to approve broad protections for gay couples nationwide.
At the same time, voters in eight US states approved ballot initiatives that limit the rights of gay couples. Today Massachusetts is the only state that recognizes gay marriage-and its law is being challenged. Six other states and the District of Columbia grant some legal protections to same-sex partnerships.
On the federal level, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act signed into law in 1996 by Democrat Bill Clinton, states that marriage is between a man and woman. That meant that when former Rep. Gerry Studds died in October, the man he married legally in their home state of Massachusetts was denied the death benefits given to all other congressional spouses.
Ever since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, Americans have viewed themselves as broad minded when it comes to matters of private behavior between adults. Countries in Europe and Latin America, on the other hand, have been viewed as far more conservative, largely because of the powerful influence of the church.