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Mexican lawmakers reject president’s plan to extend same-sex marriage

A parliamentary committee has voted against the proposal tabled by President Enrique Pena Nieto, pictured on Wednesday giving an address in response to the U.S. presidential election. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

A Mexican parliamentary body has voted against legalising same-sex marriage throughout the country, bringing to an end a proposal that had sparked considerable opposition.

The Commission on Constitutional Matters, in the lower house of Congress, rejected the proposal by 18-9, with one abstention. Committee members argued that the initiative, as set out by President Enrique Peña Nieto, would violate the rights of states to set their own civil registry rules.

The National Front for the Family, which organised protest marches across Mexico after the proposal was first tabled in May, has delivered its own citizens’ initiative to the Senate. This would modify the constitution to limit marriage to heterosexual couples.

Eleven Mexican states currently allow same-sex couples to marry, though the Supreme Court established jurisprudence in 2015 permitting marriage for all couples, while not changing any state laws. Same-sex couples wanting to marry in many states must obtain an injunction.

President Peña Nieto’s own Institutional Revolutionary Party did not openly support the measure – a rare occurrence for the party, which traditionally obeys its president’s instructions and, in past years, portrayed itself as anti-clerical.

Catholic leaders have criticised the president’s proposals on same-sex marriage, but preferred laity to lead the opposition.

However, the Mexican bishops’ conference and Pope Francis have endorsed the dozens of pro-family protest marches that took place earlier in the year.

Amid the activism, comments on same-sex marriage from the new apostolic nuncio to Mexico appear to suggest the Vatican would prefer a less confrontational approach.

“Mexicans, rather than confronting each other, making proclamations or marching, have to sit down at the table and talk to each other,” Archbishop Franco Coppola told reporters on November 7 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“When we are speaking of the constitution, it has to become something that all Mexicans, or at least a great majority of Mexicans, can share.”