Imagine if, when Washington, D.C. started licensing gay marriages earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court had told the fifty states they had to recognize them.
That’s essentially what happened in Mexico yesterday.
In December of last year, right around the time the D.C. city council voted to allow gay marriage, Mexico City became the first capital of a Latin American country to do the same. Last week, just a day after the historic Prop 8 ruling in California, the Mexican Supreme Court voted to uphold those gay Mexico City marriages as valid.
But Mexico took a grande step towards full equality yesterday (right past their gringo neighbors to the north) when their Supreme Court ruled that all 31 states in the country have to recognize those marriages. That’s a huge difference from the United States, where just a handful of states will recognize gay marriages performed in D.C., and about 30 states have specifically banned gay marriage entirely.
That’s where we are in America with gay marriage equality, at the moment:
* A country with a population that is 91 percent Roman Catholic is beating the United States.
* We’ve got a president who was heavily supported by the LGBT community in his election bid, who has legal gay marriages being performed literally in his own neighborhood, and who very quietly did not support Proposition 8 when it was before California voters. His own parents’ interracial marriage would not have been legal but for a ruling by the Supreme Court. Yet even he, when the federal judiciary struck down Prop 8 as unconstitutional, can’t bring himself to herald the occasion from his bully pulpit. All he can do is send his spokesman out to be “turned into a human pretzel” as he awkwardly tries to say that he never supported gay marriage OR Prop 8 and only supports…gay equality?
* And we’ve got a Supreme Court that Ted Olson seems eager to try to persuade (and if Bush’s Solicitor General is the biggest champion of marriage equality, anything in the legal world is possible). Realistically though, Perry vs. Schwarzenegger’s only chance of of victory is persuading Justice Kennedy, which can be done. Kennedy seems to relish being the swing vote, and he’s vain enough not to want to be on the wrong side of history. Judge Walker cited Kennedy in so many footnotes in his decision in Perry that he’s brilliantly put the Justice in a position where he’d have to reverse himself to reverse the decision. But a 5-4 ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court is still a long shot, and it would likely never come close to the Mexican Supreme Court’s sweeping 9-2 decision.
Republicans had a tough primary election day yesterday, and seeing a neighbor that’s usually considered culturally more conservative than the U.S. pushing the envelope on gay marriage probably couldn’t had helped. But they should look on the bright side: gay Mexican immigrants (a double whammy of an indignation for the GOP) will have less incentive to enter the country illegally. After all, the society they’d be fleeing is a little more just than the United States. For better or worse, if you’re gay or lesbian, the U.S. Is just not quite as bright a beacon of individual liberty and equality as our neighbor to the south.