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Mexico City mayor sues Guadalajara bishop over gay marriage remarks

August 18, 2010 |  2:47 pm

Marcelo ebrard notimex Mayor Marcelo Ebrard of Mexico City on Wednesday filed a civil suit claiming defamation against Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara, upping the ante in a high-profile political spat over gay marriage in Mexico that pits emboldened secular institutions against the country's influential Roman Catholic clergy (link in Spanish).

The suit comes after Ebrard demanded that Sandoval retract suggestions made over the weekend that Mexico's Supreme Court justices were bribed for their recent landmark rulings in favor of gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in the Mexican capital.

Sandoval made the allegations on Sunday during an event in Aguascalientes state. He also used a slur against gays while decrying the recent high court decisions that were called victories for the gay-rights community, as L.A. Times correspondent Tracy Wilkinson analyzes in this story.

Church authorities were not backing down. Sandoval said Monday he would not retract his comments, and the archdiocese in Guadalajara later said it had proof of the allegations against the Supreme Court justices (link in Spanish). Statements in support were issued from the archdiocese in Mexico City, while the Bishops' Conference of Mexico also said it supports Sandoval.

In the secular institutional corner, the Supreme Court censured Sandoval's statements unanimously, and Ebrard issued a stark warning to the highest-ranking prelate of Mexico's second-largest city: "We live in a secular state, and here, whether we like it or not, the law rules the land," Ebrard said, according to La Jornada (links in Spanish). "The cardinal must submit to the law of the land, like all other citizens of this country."

By wide majorities, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of gay marriages in Mexico City, ruled that those marriages must be recognized in Mexico's 31 states, and upheld a portion of the Mexico City gay-marriage law that permits same-sex couples to adopt children.

Wilkinson reports:

The court hewed to Mexico's strict separation of church and state and said the constitution did not indicate that marriage had to be defined as the union of a man and woman. To deny gay couples the right to adopt, the court said, would amount to discrimination.

"There is nothing that indicates that homosexual couples are less apt parents than heterosexual ones," Justice Arturo Zaldivar said in televised proceedings this week.

The adoption provision was upheld 9 to 2 in a vote Monday, as proponents erupted in cheers of "Marriage and adoption! For all the nation!"

Mexico City's left-dominated legislative assembly voted to allow same-sex marriage in December. The law went into effect with much city-led fanfare in March and then faced a challenge in the Supreme Court from the conservative-led federal government. An estimated 320 same-sex couples have wed in Mexico City since the law was enacted, but the city government has offered no figures on adoptions by gay couples, or whether any have been requested.

The federal agency that oversees adoption of children in Mexico has never specified that an adoptive parent must be married or live in an opposite-sex household, notes the daily Milenio (links in Spanish).

The new law is in fact turning attention to the enormous bureaucratic difficulties that characterize the adoption process in Mexico, reports La Jornada. One heterosexual couple told the paper their adoptive process was "very long, complicated, and traumatic." The couple described sitting in interviews as long as seven hours, and requirements that were either contradictory or not mentioned beforehand.

Another woman identified as Karina said that interviewers asked "intimate" questions about her sexual history in the presence of her husband. "The whole process is designed so that people will get discouraged and leave," Karina told the paper.

La Jornada also published a short piece describing requirements for adoption in Mexico. Here's a link to an automated translation in English.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard. Credit: Notimex via Esmas.com

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