In the United Kingdom, it would seem unusual if parliament voted to provide human rights to people in one county but not another. But in countries like Mexico, each of these country’s states have their laws and rulings each determined by local politics and only the Supreme Court is able to make blanket laws that affect the entire country. It’s this hierarchy that is making Mexico’s fight for marriage equality that much more difficult.
It’s also made more difficult by the way the nullification of state law works. For example, in order to nullify a state law about marriage equality, several separate lawsuits have to be filed by several couples against the state. On top of this, unlike in the United States where a successful lawsuit in one state allowed everybody in that area to marry, lawsuit rulings in Mexico only apply to the individuals that filed them meaning that those who also want to marry have to file their own lawsuit and wait for that to successful.
But despite these hurdles, those fighting for marriage equality in Mexico are pushing on. As of 2015, courts in more than two thirds of Mexico’s 31 states have ruled in favour of the same-sex couples, thus granting them the right to marry. In fact, in the states of Coahulla and Quintana Roo and Mexico City (which isn’t a state but it is a district, like Washington D.C) marriage is available for everybody.
What’s also good news is that lawyers like Alex Alí Méndez Díaz (who took up the legal fight when other LGBT protesters didn’t feel as though lawsuits would be successful) have been filing ‘amparos’ and ‘amparo colectivos’.
An amparo is a lawsuit that pertains to human rights, while an amparo colectivos is a human rights lawsuit that involves large groups of people. Méndez has been filing these lawsuits so that couples will win the right to marry and individuals will win that right for the future too, even if they do not currently have a partner. In April, 2014 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of his 39-person strong amparo colectivo while other lawsuits (some involving hundreds of people) have also been successful in other parts of the country.
The change is massively positive and speaking to Buzzfeed, Méndez says that he is astonished at the pace of it. And, their push for marriage equality has seen little to no resistance from LGBT rights opponents and religious leaders (Mexico is mostly Catholic) in the country as unlike the United States, where marriage equality is hugely publicised, that isn’t the case in Mexico and the people aren’t used to using the courts to bring about change like this.
However, this stability may not be forever as Méndez says that “The moment that there is an order from the Supreme Court forcing reform we’ll begin to see all kinds of resistance. We’re going to have serious problems with protests in opposition.”
In January, there was opposition from local officials in the state of Baja California who refused to let same-sex couple marry. One volunteer from the city hall even said that the two men were mad, which caused LGBT activists to organise a protest using the hashtag #MisDerechosNoSonLocura (#MyRightsAreNotMadness). In the end, the couple was allowed to marry.
Despite this opposition, which is sure to grow in the coming weeks and months, Méndez tells Buzzfeed that he still thinks the nationwide marriage equality will become a reality soon regardless.
We’ll keep you posted once we know more.