Mexico City — Although Mexico is a traditionally Catholic country with strong family values, recent legislative and court decisions have given a strong boost to the homosexual-rights agenda.
Opposition by bishops and Church leaders has led to a secondary controversy, highlighting the deep rift between church and state in Mexico, and causing accusations to fly from both sides of the divide.
Mexico City’s left-leaning mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, signed the first same-sex “marriage” bill into law on Dec. 21, 2009. The law stated that same-sex “marriages” can be legally performed in the capital city, with a provision stating that these couples may also legally adopt children.
Loosely defined “civil unions” had been recognized since 2007 under the Ley de Convivencia, but full “marriage” for homosexual couples had not yet been recognized in an explicit way.
When federal prosecutors backed by the more conservative National Action Party challenged the Mexico City law, the issue was taken to the Supreme Court to determine its constitutionality.
On Aug. 10, the Supreme Court declared that same-sex “marriages” are not unconstitutional and that all 31 states in the nation of Mexico are required to recognize same-sex “marriages” performed in other jurisdictions.
A second ruling quickly followed: On Aug. 16, the Supreme Court stated that same-sex “married” couples also have the right to adopt children and that adoptions performed in Mexico City are to be recognized across the republic.
Since the law first went into effect on March 4, an estimated 320 homosexual couples have wed in Mexico City. However, the city government has not released information about how many same-sex couples have adopted children.
The Mexican Bishops’ Conference was quick to speak out, stating that the recent rulings fail to recognize that same-sex “marriages” are against natural law and human dignity and that the 2009 decision to pass the same-sex “marriage” and adoption law was “carried out hurriedly, without the necessary consultation of different leaders in society and without concern for the consensus of the majority, which was against such unions and especially the adoption of children.”
Cardinal Norberto Rivera, the archbishop of Mexico City, declared same-sex “marriages” “inherently immoral,” saying they “distort the nature of marriage raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.”
Meanwhile, Cardinal Juan Sandoval, the archbishop of Guadalajara, has come under fire for alleging that Ebrard bribed the Supreme Court justices so that they would rule in favor of the law’s constitutionality.
Ebrard demanded that Cardinal Sandoval retract his statements, and when the cardinal refused, Ebrard filed a civil suit for defamation. Cardinal Sandoval has repeatedly stated that he has proof to back up his words. He will be required to produce it in his upcoming trial, which has yet to be scheduled.
The spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Father Hugo Valdemar, was also slapped with a lawsuit for saying that “Marcelo Ebrard and his party, the PRD, have created laws that are destructive to the family, that cause worse damage than narcotrafficking.”
The suit is being filed against him for “violating the nation’s constitution.” In Mexico, the constitutional separation between church and state forbids the clergy from making public statements for or against particular political parties.
Father José de Jesús Aguilar, director of Radio and Television Ministry for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, told the Register that “in Mexico, there are groups that do not understand the separation [between church and state] and want to take all freedom of expression away from the Church. When the Church speaks out on values, it is accused of meddling in politics.”
David Razú, the president of the Human Rights Commission in the Legislative Assembly of Mexico City, was the legislator who first launched the initiative to legalize same-sex “marriage” and to push for adoption rights for homosexual couples.
When questioned about why legislators claim to represent their constituency with this law when a national survey showed that only 22% of Mexicans were in favor of it, Razú told the Register that a legislator’s duty is not to the majority, but to those whose fundamental rights are at stake.
“What would happen if 90 million people agreed to vote to turn 10 million others into slaves?” he asked. “The example is extreme, but it illustrates the anti-democratic absurdity of subjecting rights to a popular vote. Democracies are built to guarantee each and every person equal rights, not so that the majorities can trample the rights of citizens who don’t think or act like them.”
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarified this argument in its June 3, 2003, document entitled “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.”
Signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the document states, “Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual unions is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens. In reality, they can always make use of the provisions of law — like all citizens from the standpoint of their private autonomy — to protect their rights in matters of common interest.”
When questioned about the rights of children as the real vulnerable minority, Razú stated, “Children have the right to a family, which can take on many different forms. If adoption by same-sex couples were limited or prohibited, we would be going against the rights of children who live in these types of arrangements to have their families recognized. We would be discriminating against them.”
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had already clarified this question as well: “As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in [homosexual] unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. [It] would actually mean doing violence to these children,” who are placed “in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development.”
According to Catholic author and commentator Carlos Villa Roiz, who works in the public relations department of the Mexico City Archdiocese’s Social Communications Office, the real driving force behind the laws is a strategic bid for political power.
These laws, he told the Register, “are legislative impositions in the Federal District, which has a leftist majority in the Democratic Party of the Revolution, the PRD. They are part of the PRD agenda. Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico City’s mayor, aspires to the Mexican presidency for 2012 and is looking for electors from among these groups.”
As the controversy continues to rage, the Mexican bishops stand behind their more outspoken colleagues. In their official statement, they manifest their “total disagreement” with the Supreme Court’s decision, stating, “Making these unions equal to marriage is disrespectful both to the very essence of marriage between a man and a woman […] as well as to the customs and our culture, which have governed us for centuries.
“Regrettably, as we speak about these currents in public opinion, some respond with accusations and threats, calling us intolerant, when tolerance simply means that we can all express our opinions and positions. For this reason, we wish to express our solidarity with Cardinals Norberto Rivera and Juan Sandoval on this issue.”
Trish Bailey de Arceo writes from Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.