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Mexican lawmakers
file legal challenge to same-sex union law

Mexican lawmakers
file legal challenge to same-sex union law

State legislators from President Felipe Calderon's conservative National Action Party have asked Mexico's highest court to overturn a same-sex civil union law in the northern state of Coahuila. Coahuila lawmaker Francisco Cortes said Saturday that the legal challenge filed with the supreme court argues that the law, which grants registered same-sex partners rights similar to those of married couples, violates a constitutional clause protecting the family.

Article 4 of Mexico's constitution covers the rights of spouses, children, and the family and states that "men and women are equal before the law. This will protect the organization and development of the family."

"By common sense, we all know that a family is integrated by a man and a woman with the objective of perpetuating the species," Cortes said.

The law was approved by Coahuila last month, and on January 31 a lesbian couple in the state registered what officials called Mexico's first "civil solidarity union." Television footage showed the couple smiling broadly and shaking hands with officials after the simple ceremony at a registrar's office.

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. The law takes effect in mid March.

While homosexuality is still taboo in many rural parts of Latin America, some of the region's urban areas are becoming more tolerant of gays. 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)

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