Lesbian couple
registers as Mexico's first same-sex civil union

Lesbian couple
            registers as Mexico's first same-sex civil union

A lesbian couple
registered what officials called Mexico's first same-sex
civil union on Wednesday in the northern city of Saltillo.
The couple, Karina Almaguer and Karla López,
traveled to Saltillo, Coahuila, from their home state
of Tamaulipas to register as a "civil solidarity
union" under a newly passed law that made Coahuila the first
of Mexico's 31 states to grant recognition to such
unions. Television footage showed the couple smiling
broadly and shaking hands with officials after the
simple ceremony at a registrar's office.

Coahuila state
assemblywoman Julieta López Fuentes, who served as an
official witness at the civil ceremony, said that the law,
passed earlier this month, allows people from other
states to register such unions in Coahuila. "Same-sex
couples from other states have been asking for
information about formalizing their unions," said López
Fuentes. "Right now we haven't heard about any
foreigners asking for information, but anyone who is
interested would have to show they are [legally]
staying in Mexico."

"The object of
this law is that unions of people of the same sex be
legally regulated and recognized so that they can have some
security in their future," she said.
López Fuentes said it was the first
same-sex civil union in Mexico. In November, Mexico
City, which as a semi-independent capital zone has some
of the same powers as states, passed a similar measure, the
first in the nation's history, but that law will not
go into effect until mid March.

Fuentes said that state registrar Alicia Rivera, who
performs some functions equivalent to a justice of the
peace, registered the union on Wednesday. The law,
which provides gay couples with numerous social
benefits similar to those of married couples, was approved
by the Coahuila state legislature January 11 by a vote
of 20–13. Coahuila governor Humberto Moreira
later signed the bill into law.

The laws have
been sharply criticized by the Roman Catholic Church and
the conservative National Action Party of President Felipe
Calderdón. While homosexuality is still taboo in
many rural parts of Latin America, the region's urban
areas are becoming more socially liberal. Mexico City
and Coahuila join the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires and
the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul in
legalizing same-sex civil unions.

At the national
level, lawmakers in Costa Rica and Colombia have debated
but not passed similar measures. (Juan Montano, AP)

Tags: World, World

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