| 5:55 pm
Mexico's Supreme Court has upheld a landmark law permitting same-sex marriages in Mexico City, rejecting the conservative federal government's claim that the law is unconstitutional because it threatens the institution of the family.
The justices, in an 8-2 decision, with one jurist absent, cast their opinions on one of two grounds: First, individual states (including the Federal District, as Mexico City is also known) can define or limit marriage through their legislatures; or second, Mexico's constitution is vague on the definition of "family."
Mexico City's law is an anomaly in the heavily Roman Catholic country, where the church hierarchy and the ruling center-right National Action Party (PAN) have vehemently opposed same-sex marriage.
Thursday's ruling was greeted as another victory in the international gay-rights community and came the day after a U.S. federal judge struck down Proposition 8, a ballot initiative in California that banned same-sex marriages there. Argentina last month passed a sweeping same-sex marriage law, making it the first country in Latin America to give gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals.
Mexico City's legislative assembly voted in December to allow same-sex marriages within the Federal District. An estimated 300 gay and lesbian couples have been married since the law took effect in March.
The Mexican Supreme Court will rule next week on another challenge to Mexico City's law: whether married gay couples can adopt children. The court is also slated to decide whether same-sex marriages from Mexico City should be recognized and protected in Mexico's states.
-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City
Photo: Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Mexico City awaiting ruling. Credit: Associated Pres