POLITICS

Defying Mexico's Supreme Court, border city blocks gay couple from marrying

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06:  A couple exchange rings as they are wed during a wedding ceremony at the Broward County Courthouse on January 6, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Gay marriage is now legal statewide after the courts ruled that the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and the Supreme Court declined to intervene.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: A couple exchange rings as they are wed during a wedding ceremony at the Broward County Courthouse on January 6, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Gay marriage is now legal statewide after the courts ruled that the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and the Supreme Court declined to intervene. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

This city on the border with California has for a fourth time blocked a gay couple from marrying in defiance of an order from Mexico's Supreme Court, the men's lawyer said Friday.

Attorney José Luís Márquez Saavedra said he has filed a complaint against Mexicali's mayor and other officials seeking to force them to let Victor Fernando Urias Amparo and Victor Manuel Aguirre Espinoza wed. He accused the city of using procedural technicalities to keep them from tying the knot.

Mayor Jaime Rafael Diaz Ochoa, a member of the conservative National Action Party, which has historic ties to the Roman Catholic Church and has opposed same-sex marriage in the past, said officials are just trying to follow the law.

The state of Baja California, where Mexicali is, does not allow same-sex marriage.

Mexico does not have a single national civil code but rather one each for the 31 states and the Federal District of Mexico City. Federal courts have issued rulings sympathetic to same-sex marriage, but for the most part that has not translated into legalization at the local level.

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When Urias and Aguirre first tried to marry in Mexicali in 2013, the local Civil Registry rejected them, saying the Mexican constitution recognizes only unions of opposite-sex couples. That's when they sought and obtained the Supreme Court injunction authorizing their nuptials.

Civil Registry officials rejected their petition again, saying bureaucratic procedures had not been followed. On a third try in November, the registry said the couple had failed to attend mandatory pre-marriage counseling. Then this month, City Hall told them they couldn't attend those sessions.

Saavedra's complaint accuses the mayor, two municipal workers and a state employee of failing to fulfill their public duties.

"It's nothing personal," the mayor said. "It is respect for the rule of law that governs us."

Since 2010 all states are required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in the capital, where it is legal. Last year the northern state of Coahuila became the second place in Mexico to approve same-sex marriage.

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