Today, November 30th, 2011, will be marked as a historic date in the legal and social life of Quintana Roo, as though almost unnoticed and barely mentioned in the media, were held the first two marriages between same sex persons and more interesting is that these marriages were made without making any changes to existing legislation in the State. Here is a brief analysis of this interesting event.
The marriage rules and the management of vital records is a local faculty, so that each State’s Office has its own civil code and it’s own vital records. The Federal District (Mexico City), although not a state, by constitutional provision allows it’s legislature to regulate civil matters and operate it’s own vital records office. Based on these ideas is that Mexico City was undertaken in 2010 to reform its civil code language that would speak more of “people” rather than “men” and “women”, were also made some adjustments to the Civil Registry certificates and in general all the ground was prepared to initiate such unions in a harmonious and consistent way, through a process that required time, discussions and a lot of study for implementation.
Quintana Roo was in a different situation, for years, there have been voices that rising up to ask to allow same-sex-marriages in this state, not only for the respect and recognition of the civil liberties of people equally, but also must be said, for the economic flow that these unions can bring to the state, considering the natural tourism vocation of Quintana Roo.
The Civil Code of Quintana Roo is one of the most recent of the country, dating from 1980. When developed, the local congressmen tried to integrate some new ideas and trends that existed at that time; however, the work was not entirely harmonious, the legislature on the one hand tried to be innovative and on the other, copied literally, a large number of articles of the Federal Civil Code in force in those years, so that this legislative technique favored same gender marriages. Thus, the local code contains requirements that the man must comply with and on the other side, requirements that must meet the woman must comply with for marriage, but nowhere states that the marriage has to be between a man and a woman.
So why have there never been same sex marriages before? Perhaps because no one tried before or those who tried were met with refusal by the authorities. Thus a group of people formed by two same-sex couples wishing to marry each other, lawyers, activists and pro gay and lesbian organizations took on the endeavor of enacting the first record of a marriage between two persons of the same sex and held by an authority of Quintana Roo.
How did they do it? Apparently the couple completed the application process for their marriage in compliance with all requirements of law, although their application was rejected or not even accepted at least twice. Then they tried again in the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas, invoking the legal principle that states “the governed can do anything that is not prohibited” in accordance with article 1st of the Mexican Constitution which prohibits discrimination against people because of their gender and their preferences, in addition to the penalties imposed by the local criminal law for those who commit acts of discrimination. Obviously all these rules were already there, just needed someone to put them together, make use of them and find an authority with a legal criterion broad enough to understand, accept and process a request of this type.
For the relevance of this theme, the celebration of these marriages was hardly announced and somewhat surprising, we have to remember that Quintana Roo is an entity where legislators recently decided that anyone who commits abortion should be punished and treated like a murderer, making it difficult to believe that legislators and authorities with this type of criterion will so easily accept marriages between same sex persons. The truth is that the first two records are there and a road on this subject has been started to be built, but there is still a long way to go. It will be interesting reactions and statements of authorities, public characters and social groups in the next few days on this topic. For now, congratulations to the new spouses and let’s hope that the discussions to come flow in an environment of respect, tolerance and solid and intelligent arguments.
Gustavo Calderón, is a Lawyer and University Professor in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, with more than 10 years of experience in Corporate Law and Real Estate Law. Mr. Calderón focuses his practice towards serving the expatriate population of the Riviera Maya.