Washington DC and Mexico City approve gay marriage

The capital of the United States, Washington DC, will likely be seeing gay nuptials next March. Its city council voted mid December to approve same-sex marriages 11-2. Mayor Adrian Fenty has promised he would sign the bill into law. However, Weshington DC comes under the oversight of the US Congress, and there is a risk that the federal legislature, which has final say over the laws covering the capital, would vote to overturn the bill.

About a week later, AFP reported that Mexico City‘s legislature has also passed a law for same-sex marriages.  “It was approved overall by 39 votes in favor and 20 against, with five abstentions,” said a spokesman for the bill’s chief sponsor, assemblyman Davi Razu. There is also a proposal to allow same-sex married couples to adopt children, but there are conflicting reports whether this provision was part of the passed bill.

Celebrating the victory, lawmaker Victor Romo from the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) said:  “For centuries, unjust laws prohibited marriage between whites and blacks or Europeans and (indigenous) Indians. Today all those barriers have come down.”

The new law modifies an existing provision for same-sex civil unions, and was passed in a city where, latest surveys indicate, 48 percent were in favour of gay marriage, versus 46 percent opposed. The bill that is widely expected to be signed into law by the leftist mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, also from the PRD.

However, Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s conservative National Action Party (PAN) has vowed to challenge the gay marriage law in the courts, so maybe the final word is not yet in.

Meanwhile, things are definitely held up in Buenos Aires. In mid-November, Judge Gabriela Seijas had ruled that the ban on gay marriage violated Argentina’s constitution. She was pronouncing on a suit by Jose Maria di Bello and Alex Freyre, who wanted to get married on World Aids Day, December 1. At first, the Mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, said he would not appeal against that decision, effectively opening the door to registering di Bello and Freyre’s marriage, but hours before the ceremony, another judge, Marta Gomez Alsina ruled that the first judge did not have the authority to give the couple permission to marry.

The latest is that the first judge, Seijas, has dismissed the second court’s claims, saying the issue fell outside its jurisdiction. She asked Mayor Macri to comply with her ruling. According to the Buenos Aires Herald, the couple have now asked Seijas to fine the mayor for failing to comply while a gay rights organisation called for a court probe into Macri for disobeying a court ruling.

But as things stand, the matter probably won’t be sorted out until the Supreme Court hears the case. When that will be is unclear.

Yawning Bread recently recounted how gay equality gained traction as an issue in Argentina over the last 20 years. See the blogpost Port of Spain day 9.

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