Mexico City - In honor of the International Day Against Homophobia (May 17), Mexico's president Enrique Peņa Nieto held a roundtable with leaders of Mexican LGBT rights group. And what he had to say was big. He not only spoke out against LGBT discrimination but also pledged to bring marriage equality nationwide, announcing that he had signed initiatives that propose same-sex marriage be written into the Mexico's constitution and federal civil code.
If Mexico were to legalize marriage equality nationwide, gay couples across North America would have the freedom to marry, all the way from the Arctic Circle down to the Tropics. Not counting Central America or the Caribbean nations, this could be considered a continent-wide achievement.
More than 474 million people live in Mexico, the United States, and Canada combined. Nowhere else on earth are so many people covered by marriage equality legislation in one geographic area. The residents of these NAFTA countries would no longer just share a free trade agreement, but a law recognizing LGBT people as equal. To offer a comparison, just under half of the European Union's 508 million inhabitants enjoy such equal treatment.
Already in Mexico, gay couples can often marry. The supreme court there ruled last year it was unconstitutional for Mexican states to ban same-sex marriage. In practice, though, states were not required to rewrite their laws, and individual couples have to sue in order to be granted marriage licenses, except in a few states and Mexico City's federal district, where it has been legal since 2009, and a few other states that realized the laws didn't address the matter. Largely, though, it has been in flux - and a federal law would end any argument over the right.
The president's party, the PRI, has long been conservative socially, but Peņa Nieto spoke out anyway, saying the measures he propose would establish "a human right that people may marry without any discrimination." He accompanied his talk with tweets. In one he announced his marriage equality initiatives, and in another he said, "For an inclusive Mexico that recognizes diversity, one of its greatest strengths. #WithoutHomophobia."
Read more at bustle.comBN Editor's Note: Same sex marriage is currently permitted in Mexico City, as well as in several states including Coahuila, Quintana Roo, Jalisco, Nayarit, Chihuahua and Sonora.