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New law propels gay rights in Mexico - (Coahuila moves boldly with civil unions as nation watches)
San Diego Union - Tribune ^ | 3/5/07 | S. Lynne Walker - Copley News Service

Posted on 03/05/2007 11:29:59 AM PST by NormsRevenge

SALTILLO, Mexico – Gabby and Ana are in love. So are Marco Antonio and Juan Carlos.

Under a sweeping new law allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions, they are planning to turn their love into a legal commitment.

Legislators in the dusty northern border state of Coahuila have stunned Mexico by giving same-sex couples property and inheritance rights long reserved for married heterosexuals.

It is a first for this predominantly Roman Catholic country, a measure so swift and so bold that it surprised even the gay community. All of a sudden, gay rights are on the national agenda.

Since Coahuila's Legislature voted 20-13 to pass the law in January, Julieta López, the congresswoman who introduced the legislation, has received calls from her counterparts in states stretching from Chihuahua to Chiapas.

Even Puebla, a deeply religious state whose capital boasts 365 Catholic churches – one for every day of the year – is considering gay rights legislation.

“There is going to be a domino effect across the country,” said David Sánchez, 45, an openly gay federal congressman with the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD. “This movement cannot be stopped.”

Mexico City already had passed a gay civil union law that goes into effect March 16, but it took seven years to get that legislation through the City Council. Coahuila's law took three months from the day it was introduced until the day it went into practice.

And unlike Mexico City's law, once same-sex couples have registered in Coahuila, the state protects their rights no matter where they live in the country.

“This does not have to do with morality. It has to do with legality,” said López, a psychologist who is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. “As human beings, we have to protect them as they are. It has to do with civil liberty.”

Gay couples from throughout Mexico have begun showing up at the state registrar's office, encouraged by an open invitation extended by Coahuila's ambitious young governor.

Humberto Moreira, 40, a PRI member, is the first governor in Mexico to appoint a top official to handle the politically sensitive issues of diversity and inequality.

What is most surprising is that Coahuila's law has drawn little opposition in this very Catholic, very conservative country.

Bishop Raúl Vera, who heads the Catholic Diocese of Saltillo, has declined to condemn the law.

While Vera insists that “two women or two men cannot get married,” he also sees gays as a vulnerable minority.

“We cannot be arch-conservatives and say, 'Don't do that,' ” Vera said. “Today we live in a society that is composed in a different way. There are people who do not want to marry under the law or in the church. They need legal protection. I should not abandon these people.”

Vera's stance outrages conservatives.

“We are dealing a death blow to the family,” said Esther Quintana, state president of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN.

Quintana, who is a lawyer, argues the legislation is not only flawed but redundant, because Mexican law already protects property rights regardless of sexual orientation. Further, she said the legislation is weak because it allows one partner to dissolve the union without a legal challenge from the other. The PAN, which voted in a bloc against the law, plans to challenge it in court.

For Quintana, the new legislation is part of a larger strategy by gay groups to push for more rights.

She worries it is only a matter of time before public schools begin teaching children about homosexuality.

“In this second phase, they will begin this indoctrination of children that homosexuality is normal,” Quintana said, her voice rising with anger. “What comes next? Permitting homosexuals to adopt children.”

She says gay groups have initiated a nationwide campaign to push Mexican society to first accept homosexuals, then see them as victims. Finally, Quintana said, “all of us who are in favor of the family will be Satanized as intolerant, the worst of the worst.”

“We are not condemning homosexuals. They are people like you and me,” Quintana said. “But we do not agree that their relationship should be put on the same level as marriage.”

Years of hostility

Only recently have gays begun to step out of the shadows in Coahuila.

In this desert state of tumbleweeds and cowboy hats and ranchera music, public displays of affection between two men or two women were not only frowned upon, they were potentially dangerous.

A few weeks before the law was passed, Saltillo police beat a woman they accused of kissing another woman in public. In another incident, two men suspected of being gay were jailed.

Many in the Catholic Church also have been hostile toward gays.

“When we had our first weekend retreat, a priest told me, 'Send them home at night or there will be an orgy.' That mentality is so pervasive,” said the Rev. Robert Coogan, who works with Saltillo's gay community.

Coogan, a 54-year-old New Yorker, defends the rights of his gay parishioners.

“Some of the other priests tell me I should not let them cross dress,” Coogan said one recent Saturday as he watched a talent show staged by a gay youth group supported by the church. “But once you tell them that God loves them unconditionally, then you can't tell them, 'But God doesn't love you like that.' It doesn't work.”

Once a month, Coogan celebrates a special Mass for gays.

“I think now is the time that gay people can embrace their orientation without shame in Mexico,” he said.

Still, gays in Coahuila continue to confront discrimination in the workplace, in their social lives and in their own families.

“Yes, there are laws that prohibit discrimination . . . but we have to educate society little by little,” said Noé Ruiz, 27, an unemployed schoolteacher who helps run the gay youth group. “We are going forward with firm steps, but we are not going to run.”

Many of Ruiz's friends have suffered when their sexual orientation became public.

Deyamira Martínez, 29, a math teacher at a private Catholic junior high school, has been targeted by parents enraged over her appearance on a local television program last month to talk about life as a lesbian in Saltillo, Coahuila's capital.

“Everything good about me has been erased,” Martínez said. “I do not drink. I do not smoke. I have had only four partners in my life. I am not going to damage their children.”

Sergio Cazares is afraid to tell his mother he is gay.

“I don't care what other people say,” Cazares, 21, said as he held hands with his partner outside a gay bar in Saltillo. “The thing that hurts me the most is that when I say that I am going to live with him, my mother will reject me. The law has made things better for us as a couple, but not with our families.”

Despite these challenges, gays are determined to make a place for themselves in Mexican society.

After living together for six years, Gabby Padilla, 34, an accountant, and her partner, Ana, plan to register under Coahuila's new law.

“It's kind of a marriage,” she said. “You say that you love her, that you'll care for her and never separate. Then there's a huge fiesta. Just like a wedding.”

Marco Antonio Mata and his partner, Juan Carlos, who have been living together for nine months, plan to register in December.

When Mata was 17, he helped start the gay youth church group, which is named after a saint. Mata, 21, a marketing student who works part time as a sales manager, exemplifies Mexico's new generation of gays: outspoken about his sexual orientation, articulate about his role in society.

“People wanted us to be invisible,” he said. “Now, we are raising our hands and saying that we want to be part of society. We are saying that we exist.”

Changing attitudes

With an estimated 10 million gays in Mexico, politicians suddenly are scrambling to meet the demands of a potentially powerful voting bloc.

The PRI is talking about including gay rights provisions in its national platform for the first time in the party's history.

“The country is totally changing,” said Sánchez, the PRD congressman. “This is going to help to change the culture, to reduce homophobia, to reduce aggression against gays.”

Tomorrow, Sánchez plans to introduce legislation that would allow transgender and transsexual men and women to change their gender and their name. In September, he plans to introduce Mexico's first gay marriage legislation. Although he doesn't think it will pass, Śanchez said it will “accelerate the discussion of the issue.”

For the momentum to continue, Sánchez said gay men and women must follow his lead and participate in the political process.

“We have to run for Congress, we have to run for the state Legislature, we have to run for mayor,” he said. “And in the future, why not the presidency?”

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Mexico; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: civilunions; coahuila; gayrights; homosexualagenda; mexico; propels

1 posted on 03/05/2007 11:30:04 AM PST by NormsRevenge
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2 posted on 03/05/2007 11:31:55 AM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ......)
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To: NormsRevenge; Diddle E. Squat; deport; maui_hawaii; Ben Ficklin; zeugma; MeekOneGOP; Fiddlstix; ...

I'm glad it's no longer "Coahuila y Texas".

3 posted on 03/05/2007 11:37:59 AM PST by Paleo Conservative
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To: NormsRevenge

Nothing like putting the force of government behind a denial of reality.

4 posted on 03/05/2007 11:43:02 AM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past (Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light..... Isaiah 5:20)
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To: NormsRevenge


5 posted on 03/05/2007 11:50:55 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: NormsRevenge

Sigh. Ann was right on so many levels.

6 posted on 03/05/2007 11:51:31 AM PST by Jaded ("I have a mustard- seed; and I am not afraid to use it."- Joseph Ratzinger)
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To: Jaded

I like Laura Ingraham's name for Edwards--the Silky Pony (lol)---the Breck Girl isn't too bad either.

7 posted on 03/05/2007 12:12:26 PM PST by brooklyn dave (America First above all else)
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To: NormsRevenge

Macho Man

Body...wanna feel my body?
Body...such a thrill my body
Body...wanna touch my body?'s too much my body
Check it out my body, body.
Don't you doubt my body, body.
talkin' bout my body, body,
check it out my body

Every man wants to be a macho macho man
to have the kind of body, always in demand
Jogging in the mornings, go man go
works out in the health spa, muscles glow
You can best believe that, he's a macho man
ready to get down with, anyone he can

Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man (macho man)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! Ow....

Macho, macho man
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man (yeah, yeah)
I've got to be a macho!

Body, its so hot, my body,
Body, love to pop my body,
Body, love to please my body,
Body, don't you tease my body,
Body, you'll adore my body,
Body, come explore my body,
Body, made by God, my body,
Body, it's so good, my body

You can tell a macho, he has a funky walk
his western shirts and leather, always look so boss
Funky with his body, he's a king
call him Mister Eagle, dig his chains
You can best believe that, he's a macho man
likes to be the leader, he never dresses grand

Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! (all right)

Macho, macho man (yeah, yeah)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! All Right!

Body, body, body wanna feel my body,
Body, body, body gonna thrill my body,
Body, body, body don'tcha stop my body,
Body, body, body it's so hot my body,

Every man ought to be a macho macho man,
To live a life of freedom, machos make a stand,
Have their own life style and ideals,
Possess the strength and confidence, life's a steal,
You can best believe that he's a macho man
He's a special person in anybody's land.

Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man (macho man)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! (dig the hair on my chest)

Macho, macho man (see my big thick mustache)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! (Dig broad shoulders)

Macho, macho man (dig my muscles!)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho!

Macho, macho man
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! HEY!

8 posted on 03/05/2007 12:17:02 PM PST by Red Badger (Britney Spears shaved her head............Well, that's one way of getting rid of headlice.........)
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To: Red Badger

9 posted on 03/05/2007 12:31:48 PM PST by COEXERJ145 (Bush Derangement Syndrome Has Reached Pandemic Levels on Free Republic.)
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To: brooklyn dave

I refer to him as the Breck Girl. I've said it enough that my family knows who I'm talking about. Silky Pony might freak them out as my daughter had a collection of "My Little Ponies" when she was young.

10 posted on 03/05/2007 1:30:52 PM PST by Jaded ("I have a mustard- seed; and I am not afraid to use it."- Joseph Ratzinger)
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To: NormsRevenge

Embarassing that this is probably because of American influence.

11 posted on 03/05/2007 7:10:44 PM PST by Jedi Master Pikachu ( What is your take on Acts 15:20 (abstaining from blood) about eating meat? Could you freepmail?)
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