Mexico City votes for law approving gay civil unions
MEXICO CITY – The Mexico City assembly on Thursday voted for the first time in the country’s history to legally recognize gay civil unions, a measure that will provide gay couples with numerous social benefits and require them to fulfill social obligations similar to those of married couples. The mayor was expected to sign the measure into law.The bill, which does not approve gay marriage, per se, will allow unmarried couples, including both heterosexual and gay partnerships, such benefits as inheritance and pension rights, while requiring them to honor legal responsibilities such as spousal and child support.Although the law has been approved in general terms, legislators who had engaged in a fiery debate over the issue were still hammering out the particulars of the measure Thursday afternoon.The legislature approved the measure 43-17, with five absentions, with all of the opponents from the conservative National Action Party of President Vicente Fox and President-elect Felipe Calderon. The party is known for its opposition to abortion and its support for “traditional” families.Under the proposed law, which has been severely criticized by the Catholic Church and conservative civil groups, unmarried couples would be able to voluntarily register their union with civil authorities. Married couples are excluded from the law.Mexico City is a federal district with its own legislature, and the law will apply only to residents of the capital. This is the first time any state legislature has approved such a law anywhere in Mexico.