THE BLOG
06/02/2016 03:10 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2016

Marriage Equality: Toward a Society of Rights

Government of Mexico

On May 17th, I presented a series of initiatives that promote equality. Most notably, the package includes a proposal that establishes in our Constitution the right to marry, independently of gender identity or sexual orientation. This is in line with last year's ruling by our Supreme Court of Justice, which determined that outlawing same-sex marriage was indeed discriminatory.

Because individual States are not automatically bound by this particular ruling, only a change to the Constitution can guarantee every person's full marriage rights, regardless of where in our territory they choose to exercise them. It was thus a suitable time to announce these initiatives, which arose out of my government's and my own personal conviction, to advance toward a more inclusive society. The overall goal is to achieve a Society of Rights in which all Mexicans are guaranteed equal rights under the law.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the announcement sparked an important debate not only between political parties in Congress, but also across some sectors of our society. I understand that these measures will be met with some resistance and that a number of taboos related to the topic still persist. However, as President, it is my duty to ensure that the personal beliefs and customs of some do not limit the human rights of others.

Mexico has in fact moved ahead at a tremendous speed in the recognition of equality. A national poll, for example -- taken just a few days after we announced this package of measures -- shows that 64 percent of Mexicans now recognize homosexuality as an "acceptable way of life." Back in 2000, this figure was only 27 percent. What is more, according to the same poll, today 66 percent of people fully or partially agree that same-sex marriage should be allowed under our Constitution.

Despite these advances, large challenges still persist, including the fact that numerous laws and norms in Mexico continue to be discriminatory. Recognizing this obstacle, I also launched an initiative to revise our entire legal framework with the active participation of scholars, civil society organizations and citizens. The aim is to collect recommendations from every corner of our country, in order to identify any and all laws that go against equality and propose the necessary changes to improve them. It is true that legislation alone will not eliminate stereotypes or long-held prejudices, but it is a necessary step to doing so.

Opening up the conversation, even beyond our borders, is also important to promote an agenda of inclusion. On May 17th, I also announced that Mexico will be part of the United Nation's LGBTI Core Group of 19 countries that promote these rights at the international level. The principle guiding our participation will be the belief that every woman or man must have equal rights and that diversity is a very important element of the richness of our society.

Building a Society of Rights means there is no room for first- and second-class citizens. It means choosing inclusion over discrimination. It means creating unity from diversity.

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