By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com July 19 2013 12:49 PM ET
A rural township in northern Mexico has elected the country’s first openly gay mayor, reports the Associated Press.
Benjamin Medrano, 47, will assume office in September in the township of Fresnillo, a region troubled by drug trafficking and “full of tough country people,” according to the newly elected official.
"I am going to be mayor of a township… where there are 258 villages full of tough country people, who don't necessarily have much information on what's happening elsewhere, and have even less of an automatic sympathy with their gay mayor,” Medrano told AP. "But," he added," it's not like I'm going to paint City Hall pink, either."
Medrano, the owner of a gay bar and a singer, ran for office on a public safety campaign for Fresnillo, whose 230,000 citizens are plagued by police corruption and violence from warring drug cartels. He achieved victory in the face of a negative phone campaign from a political rival that attempted to stir up homophobia from voters.
Despite Medrano’s sexual orientation, the politician does not support same-sex marriage, citing his Roman Catholic faith and his constituents’ views as reasons for this position.
"I'm not in favor of gay marriage,” Medrano stated. "Not yet, anyway, because we have strong roots in our religion, and in our customs."
However, he is "very proud to be the first openly gay mayor in this country."