On December 22, 2009, Mexico City passed the Marriage Equality Act. It became the 9th government in the world to offer legal marriage. The law became effective on March 4, 2010.
Mexico City’s pro-marriage law was the result of 30 years of gay and lesbian activism.
Mexico City has had domestic partner registration since March 2007.
[See our article: Registration for Domestic Partnership
Mexico City legislator David Razú proposed enhancing civil marriage law to include same-sex couples. On December 22, 2009, the city’s legislative assembly approved — 39-20 with 5 abstentions — revisions to the civil code to permit same-sex marriages.
In a separate motion, the assembly voted — 31-24 with 9 abstentions — in favor of legalizing adoption by same-sex couples.
Immediate opposition came from the Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera who falsely claimed: “Today the family is under attack in its essence by the equivalence of homosexual unions with marriage between a man and a woman.” Roman Catholic groups asked the conservative federal government to intervene.
Also offering no proof to make such claims was Mariana Gómez del Campo, the Mexico City leader of the president’s National Action Party (PAN). “The same word cannot have two different meanings. It will weaken the legal definition of marriage.”
Expanding civil rights does not weaken anything. It broadens and enhances those rights for more people. The complaints appear to be whining about loosing their perceived privilege status.
Mexico President Felipe Calderón said the Constitution defined marriage as between a man and a woman, although legal experts disagree. His attorney general filed a challenge before the Supreme Court, arguing that the law violates a constitutional clause “protecting” the family.
“Politically, the federal government is declaring that the Constitution only protects heterosexual families,” said David Razú, the city legislator who proposed the new law. “It’s a government that discriminates against its own citizens.”
The federal government says that Mexico City’s 2007 civil unions law gives same-sex couples the rights they have been seeking. But in practice — when it comes to including a partner in public health insurance plans, applying for state bank loans or recognizing a parent — the law has not worked, said Judith Vázquez, a gay rights activist.
Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) lawmaker Victor Romo stated, “For centuries, unjust laws prohibited marriage between whites and blacks or Europeans and (indigenous) Indians. Today all those barriers have come down.”
In the meantime, the city is not waiting for a Supreme Court ruling, which could take as long as a year. Once they marry, same-sex spouses will also be able to adopt as a couple in Mexico City.
- A marriage in Mexico is legal only if it is a civil ceremony performed at a local Civil Register Office (Oficina del Registro Civil). You can have a religious ceremony later.
- There is a waiting period of 2-3 business days.
- If you have been divorced, you need to wait 1 year before applying for a marriage license. You will also need a certified copy of your divorce decree or certified copy of death certificate of deceased spouse.
- Blood tests for RPR and HIV, and a chest x-ray are required. (It is recommended these be done in Mexico 2 days prior to your wedding. Test fee average US$125 per person.
- You need 2-4 witnesses (depending on the location of the wedding), who are 18 or older. Witnesses also need to provide identification. Some areas of Mexico may require that two of the witnesses be from your home country.
- Weddings are not performed on Sundays.
- Parental consent is required if either party is under 18. Youngest allowed to marry: 14 for females, 16 for males.
- License fees average US$200.
- No proxy marriages, both parties must be present.
- Non-residents are allowed to marry.
- If you are a foreigner and want to marry a Mexican citizen, you need to have authorization from the National Institute for Migration (Instituto Nacional de Migración).
- If you are not a resident of Mexico, you will be asked for a Tourist Card/Visa and a valid passport.
- If you fly to Mexico, the airlines can provide you with your tourist card.
- If you are driving, you will need to get one in Mexico.
- Some Mexican states require a certified copy of your birth certificates that has been translated into Spanish and confirmed by your own country. Mexico City is located in the Federal District.
- Except for the passport, they keep all documents. Do not bring originals.
Marriage in Mexico
Advice from the Consular Section of Embassy of Mexico in the USA
Marriage in Mexico is locally (State) regulated. However, marriage requirements prevailing in the thirty-one States of Mexico are in general very similar to those of the Federal District (Mexico City):
The Mexico City Civil Registry is located at:
- Submit to the appropriate Oficina del Registro Civil (Civil Registry) valid passports, proper visae issued by a Mexican Consulate (these must be requested with at least 4 weeks in advance, as it is a lengthy procedure to obtain the respective authorization from the Instituto Nacional de Migración); filled out applications; statements opting for either joint or separate marital property; a copy of birth certificates authenticated and translated into Spanish, plus a pre-marital health certificates from a physician in Mexico.
- All documents from abroad, except for the valid passports, must be authenticated by the authority in the country where they were issued or be duly apostilled.
- In Mexico religious marriage does not replace in any way civil marriage. Therefore, a religious ceremony can be organized by the bride and groom after civil marriage has been performed.
- The marriages procedure can be followed at the premises of the Registro Civil without any charge. However, if performed somewhere else, a fee determined by the local Civil Registry must be paid.
- Persons previously married must present proof of the termination of that marriage in the form of a divorce decree or a death certificate. If the divorce or death took place outside Mexico, it must be authenticated and translated as stated above. Divorcees can marry in Mexico one year after the termination of their previous marriage.
- Persons under the age of eighteen cannot be married without the consent of both their parents or legal guardian. If the parents or guardian cannot be present at the marriage, they must grant a power of attorney to another individual to exercise the parental consent at the ceremony. This power of attorney must be authenticated and translated in accordance with the instructions given in paragraph 1. Under no circumstances can males under the age of sixteen, or females under the age of fourteen, be married in Mexico.
- A certified copy of the marriage certificate (Acta de Matrimonio) prepared by the “Registro Civil” should be obtained from that office after the marriage has been performed. It is desirable to have the document authenticated and apostilled by the corresponding Mexican authority to make it valid abroad.
Dirección General del Registro Civil
Arcos de Belén s/n esquina Doctor Andrade
06720 México, D. F.
Tel. (011-52-55) 5709-6105/ 5709-1290
To obtain a divorce, you must be a Mexican resident. Usually this process takes several months and you must reside in the cuntry for at least 6 months before applying for the divorce. You may wish to retain an attorney in Mexico with experience in divorce proceedings.
Legal Marriage Rights and Responsibilities
- Emergency medical care and hospital visitation
- Economic protections upon death of a spouse, such as inheritance rights
- Burial, autopsies, and disposition of remains
- Wrongful death and other kinds of claims that depend upon spousal status
- Receive workers’ compensation benefits if a spouse dies in the workplace
- Health insurance and pension benefits for spouses of public employees
- May file joint state tax returns, take spousal deductions on state income taxes, and receive tax benefits when transferring interests in property
- Separation, divorce, and caring for any children of the couple
- Liability for your spouse’s debts
- Limitations on your ability to make decisions about your property and who will inherit from you
- Obligations to provide support for your spouse during both marriage and divorce
Warnings: Marriage Law Pitfalls
In the Event of a Couple Parting
Mexico divorces require a 6-month residency.
If you live in an U.S. state that does not honor your marriage — which may not be determined until requesting something usually triggered by a marriage license — that state’s courts will also be unlikely to grant you a divorce.
The ability to divorce is critical. Besides the emotional reasons to dissolve a no longer functioning union, there are legal entanglements to consider. For instance, should one of the partners form a new relationship, they would not be able to sign up their new partner for workplace benefits. Most employers require an affidavit that stipulates that the partners are not married to anyone else, or have another domestic partner.
Links to Official State Instructions
Consular Section of Embassy of Mexico in the United States of America - Information and procedures
Mexican Tourism Board
800-446-3942 or 212-755-7261