There are very few things Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto can be commended for: he can read a teleprompter (though it’s not always clear if he understands the words he is saying,) he is a master hair brusher, and he supports gay marriage. Specifically, he has been pushing a constitutional amendment that would redefine marriage as between two individuals, rather than strictly between a man and a woman.
You can decide whether it’s some convenient political calculation or a deeply held belief in LGBT equality, but whatever the reasoning, the ruling Partido Institucional Revolucionario’s (PRI) push for gay marriage has just been shut down by the Mexican congress.
In the weeks leading up to the vote, a heated “pro-family” campaign waged by local Catholic diocese and other conservative sectors of Mexican society culminated in massive marches throughout the country. Apparently the message was heard by members of the influential Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN), and a handful of smaller parties who voted down the amendment in the lower house’s constitutional committee by a margin of 19-8.
Of course – as will be all-too-familiar to US readers – the argument was made on technical grounds. The issue, they claimed, was a local matter; the federal government had no right to make decisions regarding civil matters. And of course, it happened to be a case of bald-faced hypocrisy given that a recently approved law gave congress the power to do just that.
Mexico is still at the forefront of marriage equality in Latin America, and Mexico City passed the region’s first law allowing gay marriage back in 2009. This setback is just another reminder that in Mexico, like everywhere else, our work is far from over.