Mexico City and South Africa to Recognize Civil Unions

Catching up on news from earlier in the week, I came across a couple of
items.  One is a breathtaking development in Mexico, a country
that is 88%
; the other from South Africa:

capital legalizes gay unions

City lawmakers give OK despite fierce protest
by Catholic Church, conservatives


Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Nov. 10, 2006, 3:14PM

MEXICO CITY — Defying fierce opposition from Roman Catholic
leaders and conservative groups, Mexico City lawmakers overwhelmingly
approved a bill Thursday legalizing same-sex civil unions in the
Mexican capital.

With a vote of 43-to-17, Mexico City became only the second Latin
American city to authorize gay unions after Buenos Aires in 2002...

...Bustamante called the Mexico City bill a "tyranny of the
minorities," arguing that homosexuals represent "not even one in 100

A 2003 United Nations study found 5 percent of Mexicans say they are

The Roman Catholic Church, which says that 90 percent of Mexicans
belong to it, opposes same-sex marriage. But since 1997, Mexico City
has been governed by the left-leaning Democratic Revolutionary Party,
or PRD, which has clashed with the church about such issues as abortion.

Mexico City Catholic officials accuse PRD legislators of using the
civil-union law as political revenge. The PRD charges the church and
big business with conspiring to steal the July 2 presidential election
on behalf of conservative Felipe Calderon, who defeated the PRD
candidate by a hair.

"These radical groups are very angry with the Catholic Church," said
Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the archdiocese of Mexico City. "This is
clearly revenge. But the Mexican people are not ready for gay

...Advocates argue that the law is not only geared toward same-sex

It also empowers platonic relationships, such as an elderly person and
a care-giver or two roommates, to inherit pensions and property and
share financial responsibilities.

Participants sign a legal contract, which either party can dissolve
simply by sending a letter to the city government.

"We're creating new rights for new realities," said legislator Enrique
Perez Correa, one of the bill's two sponsors. Neither say they are

Equally remarkable is the comparable development in South Africa:

AFRICA: Same-sex marriage bill divides opinion

16 Nov 2006 18:08:31 GMT

JOHANNESBURG, 16 November (IRIN) - The South African parliament this
week set the wheels in motion to become the first African country to
legalise same-sex marriages, but many feel the will of the majority was

"South Africa is out of step with the world!" fumed Jo-Ann Downs,
deputy president of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), a
faith-based political party, one of the fiercest critics of the
controversial Civil Union Bill, which legalises unions between gay and
lesbian couples.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC), whose members were also
known to be deeply divided on the bill, ensured that the proposed law
went through parliament this week by making it mandatory for all its
representatives to vote for it. The bill is in conformance with a
Constitutional Court ruling made more than a year ago, ordering
parliament to change the law to allow same-sex couples the same status,
benefits and responsibilities as heterosexual couples.

The bill has been the subject of many heated debates on phone-in chat
shows on radio and television, evoking strong reactions describing the
proposed legislation as "undemocratic", "unchristian" and a "moral
slippery slope".

Gays and lesbians have become increasingly visible in South Africa,
which has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, making
them targets of homophobia, according to rights activists. Most South
Africans are conservative and often hold opinions that disagree with
the constitution, which stipulates equal rights and opportunities for
all, irrespective of sexual orientation...

What is most striking to me is the reaction of the spokesman for the
archdiocese of Mexico City, who opined that the Mexico City legislation
is revenge against the church.  If so, it is a strange kind of
revenge, since there is no reason to think that the church will be
harmed in any way.  How is it that "mind your own business" is
a form of revenge?

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The church will be harmed, in the sense that they will be seen to have lost their former ability to control the government.

That this is not actually doing anything but making all players equal won't stop their howls of outrage. Taking unfair advantage or privilege away from those who once had it causes far more outcry on their part than taking one more little bit away from those who have next to nothing.