On the EDge: Mormon church tries to influence Mexico

OPINION – There is a clear delineation between church and state in Mexico when it comes to marriage.

You can have the most elaborate religious service ever, but until you tie the knot at the Oficina del Registro Civil (Civil Register Office), you are not married.

It’s not that Mexico isn’t a religious nation – its population is more than 80 percent Catholic – it’s just an acknowledgement that faith is one thing, entering into a marriage contract is another. That’s why it is not mandatory for the bridal party to pop into the Civil Register Office before or after the church service to make things legal.

That’s also why the recent attempt by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to persuade the Mexican government to ban same-sex marriage is bound to fall upon deaf ears.

The church, which put up a lot of money, people and coaching to fight same-sex marriage in the United States, recently instructed members of the church’s governing area authority in Mexico to read a letter at services to urge members to oppose a presidential proposal to amend its constitution and legalize same-sex marriage, which is already legal in Mexico City, the northern state of Coahuila and the Quintana Roo state on the Caribbean coast.


Read the full LDS statement here: LDS Mexican Newsroom (in Spanish)


Approval of Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto’s proposal would make Mexico the fifth Latin American nation – behind Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay – to legalize same-sex marriage nationally. It is highly likely that Mexico’s Congress, a surprisingly progressive legislature that will also soon consider a proposal by Peña Nieto to legalize medicinal cannabis and decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of the weed, will approve the proposal.

The objections voiced by the church in Mexico are the same as expressed in the U.S. And, as in the U.S., the church, which has nearly 1.5 million members in Mexico, is teaming with the The Vatican to pressure the Mexican legislature.

Anticipating religious pushback, Peña Nieto issued a statement in defense of his proposal.

“I understand that these measures will be met with some resistance and that a number of taboos related to the topic still persist,” he said in a piece he prepared for The Huffington Post. “However, as president, it is my duty to ensure that the personal beliefs and customs of some do not limit the human rights of others.”

Peña Nieto went on to cite a study showing that 64 percent of Mexicans recognize homosexuality as an “acceptable way of life,” while 66 percent fully or partially agree that same-sex marriage should be legalized.

“Building a Society of Rights means there is no room for first- and second-class citizens,” Peña Nieto concluded. “It means choosing inclusion over discrimination. It means creating unity from diversity.”

It must be noted that Peña Nieto is a devout Catholic.

The difference here is the fact that marriage is considered a civil institution in Mexico. The law, in no way, interferes with those who also seek a religious blessing or ceremony.

The thinking behind Peña Nieto’s proposal is that as a civil right, it must be extended to all, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

And, just because marriage is viewed in this way does not mean that it is demeaned in any other way. That is why it can only be formalized by a state official while in the U.S., there are mail-order degrees available that can license just about anybody to perform a legal wedding.

There are many Mexican officiants, particularly in the tourist centers, who will gladly perform the symbolic service, but they are quick to inform the happy couple that unless they visit the Civil Register Office, they are not legally married. And, just in case you are planning a romantic wedding on a Mexican beach, make sure you understand that it will take a minimum of three or four days to complete all of the paperwork and medical tests before you can tie the knot. Otherwise, you can go through the symbolic ceremony and make it legal in front of a local justice of the peace in your hometown.

The other reason why this interference by the LDS and Catholic churches is likely to fail is that the Mexican government does not allow those who are not citizens to protest or participate in government.

They take this very seriously.

My wife and I once stumbled upon a political rally in the plaza of San Jose del Cabo on the Sea of Cortes and quickly found a couple of local cops to stand next to as the rally proceeded. We snuggled up close to the officers and made it clear we were just observing – actually, we were going to lunch – and waited until the rally was over before venturing back into the plaza.

That’s why the opposition to Peña Nieto’s proposal comes with two strikes against it.

Mexico has a complicated history when it comes to religion.

It began when the conquistadors, particularly Hernán Cortés, arrived and forced Christianity upon the locals. They were followed by Catholic missionaries – many of whom were beheaded by the local tribes that liked to run around naked and practice polygamy. Catholicism took some time to take hold.

The Mexican Revolution of 1910 resulted in a split so severe that relations between Mexico and The Vatican were not restored until 1992.

I’m not quite sure how the relationship between Salt Lake City and Mexico is these days, but I would bet it is not warm.

As it should be.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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45 Comments

  • BIG GUY June 14, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Encouraging members to object to same sex marriage is hardly “…interference by the LDS and Catholic churches,” any more than Ed’s rant yesterday arguing for an assault weapon ban is “interfering” with Second Amendment rights. Those churches have a right to express their opinions in matters important to their beliefs just as Ed has a right to express his.

    Ed’s comments in this article about church “interference” reflect his continuing antagonism toward religion in general and toward the Catholic and LDS churches in particular. Like Karl Marx and Barack Obama, Ed seems to believe that religion “…is the opium of the people.” Isaiah 5:20-21 has words for Ed and those like him:

    “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

    • anybody home June 14, 2016 at 11:39 am

      You can interpret those words any way you want, Big Guy. But religious fanatics who rage against allowing people to love whomever they choose is just as surely putting “darkness to light” and “bitter for sweet.” Jesus weeps.

    • great success June 14, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      “Those churches have a right to express their opinions in matters important to their beliefs just as Ed has a right to express his.”

      Then the LDS Church needs to start paying taxes. I’m pretty sure Ed does. So he certainly has a right to voice his opinion. On the other hand, the LDS church claims separation of church and state when it benefits them (non profit, avoid those taxes), but uses enormous amounts of donated money to meddle in politics (quite the opposite of separation between church and state) when that suits them also–and you say their opinion is somehow on par with citizens who ACTUALLY pays back to society?

      In Utah at least, where that money actually DOES influence legislation, your smaller demographic of people who aren’t LDS are unfairly represented. Take the medical marijuana bill, for instance, that got shot down. Too bad for those in the state of Utah dependent on ‘prescription heroin’ (opiods) with all the accompanying side effects, looking for a better alternative for pain management. But the LDS church and guys like Chris Stewart want to know precisely WHY, line by line, a person requires cannibis. So let’s just keep people on the scientifically-proven and more addictive/dangerous opiod (think chronic health issues and overwhelmingly high amounts of overdose deaths) where explanations of need by a patient are, at minimum, lax. Yes, better to just stick with the prescription heroin instead. Keep it in the grey area and outside the word of wisdom. Because it’s all prescribed legally by a doctor. Yep, load up. Great Success.

  • 42214 June 14, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Ed’s rhetoric is getting old.

  • .... June 14, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Well RealLowlife isn’t going to be happy to see his Mormon Brethren get attacked by Ed. Yes I agree RealLowlife and his Mormon Brethren have a right to they’re religion opinion. praise the Lard !

    • Real Life June 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      Meds. Find them, quickly. The paranoia is setting in.

  • godisdead June 14, 2016 at 9:51 am

    When an organized religion financially supports a failed political cause, like they did in California, they deserve scrutiny. Equal rights for people, even the LGBT community should be guaranteed. The L.D.S. church continues to finance/support bigotry toward gays around the world, while saying that they “love” them.
    To many people, the Mormon church teaches myths and fairy tales. They have a right to spew their hate, but they should be criticized when their hate denies basic human rights.

    • BIG GUY June 14, 2016 at 11:53 am

      Those supporting same sex marriage accuse their opponents of “hate” as featured on bumper stickers. Yet it was opponents of California’s Proposition 8 who, after it passed, rioted in the streets and defaced buildings. Other opponents were forced out of their jobs for supporting Prop 8. Who are the haters? If you have specific examples of Prop 8 supporters “hating,” please provide them. The only ones who I’ve heard accusing others of hate are those who support expansion of LGBT “rights.”

      If your values and mine don’t coincide, that is hardly a basis for assuming I hate certain groups. I disagree almost across the board with progressive political values: Is that enough for you to claim that I hate progressives? Do Denver’s Little Sisters of the Poor hate those who insist they provide contraceptives? You denigrate the LDS church and by inference the Catholic church. Do you have nothing in support of your position or must you resort to defaming those who disagree with you?

      Ed Kociela in months past has called for civility on this site and civility in society. I heartily agreed then and renew his call now. I suggest you learn to disagree without impugning others’ motives and feelings. While this may be hard for you to believe, others do have honest, well reasoned and heartfelt opinions that differ from yours. They may be wrong in your opinion but that doesn’t make them haters.

      • godisdead June 14, 2016 at 1:45 pm

        It seems simple when defining “hate”. When Mormons refuse to acknowledge that other human beings deserve the same rights they have, comparing them to deviants, criminals, animals, and the mentally ill -that is hate.
        When mormon children are taught to shun the the children of the LGBT community – that is hate.
        When a church teaches that if someone acts on same-sex attraction; it’s a horrible sin, they can not be exalted, they should be forced to change either by shame or societal pressure (or conversion thereapy), and they should be treated like second class citizens – this is hate.
        The guilt young people feel for the same-sex attraction they feel becomes a burden many can’t handle – this is because of hate.
        Historically, the LDS church has taught that other groups are not equal; Women, Blacks, Native Americans, and anyone not belonging to their “true” church. How should the LGBT feel when they hear the crap that comes out of Mormon authorities mouths? Hated perhaps?

        • Eddieboy June 15, 2016 at 5:14 am

          LGBTQI People…….please

      • Eddieboy June 15, 2016 at 5:13 am

        LGBTQI….

      • Eddieboy June 15, 2016 at 5:16 am

        Gosh Darnit, It’s LGBTQI……….. I just had a two hour training on this. Please get it right.

      • Eddieboy June 15, 2016 at 5:17 am

        One more time…… LGBTQI.

    • Ginger June 14, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      ” The L.D.S. church continues to finance/support bigotry toward gays around the world, while saying that they “love” them.” If that’s the case, then why did the LDS church back an anti-discrimination bill for those of the LGBTQ community? (source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/03/12/utah-legislature-passes-landmark-lgbt-anti-discrimination-bill-backed-by-mormon-church/). And if they hated those who are gay so much, why does Elder Christofferson, a leader of the LDS church, have a gay brother? And still openly claim him and invite him and his partner to family gatherings? (source: http://kutv.com/news/local/lds-leader-uses-family-as-example-of-harmony-between-church-gays). Or are you referring to the LDS church’s stance on having children raised in same-sex households to wait until they’re 18 to decide if baptism is what they want? I see no hate there. I see a group saying, “your family is more important than us at this time. Stay with them, love them, and then if you want to join us later, we would be more than happy to have you.” That isn’t hate. Hate is murdering and raping those who live a lifestyle with which you disagree.

      • godisdead June 14, 2016 at 3:27 pm

        Why does Elder Christofferson have a gay brother you ask?
        Because the brother was born that way.

    • Bob June 14, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      oh please. the lgbtq-xyz agenda is not about ‘equal rights’. it’s them wanting special treatment and privileges and to be a labeled a permanent victim class for life. people are catching on and becoming tired of the total nonsense & bs.

      • Bob June 14, 2016 at 12:51 pm

        and just to be fair, it’s the same type of thing as the “#blacklivesmatter” nonsense. stop being criminals and thugs and the cops won’t have to shoot you. its that simple. but they all want special victim privileges…

      • Eddieboy June 15, 2016 at 5:19 am

        One more time…… LGBTQI.

  • anybody home June 14, 2016 at 11:35 am

    The Mormon Church, like every church that spews the same party line about gay marriage, shares full responsibility for Orlando. The Old Testament preachings are particularly laughable since Christianity – with those teachings and bigotry – came directly from the Middle East. All Old Joe Smith did was parrot the same thing from his broken down farm in New York.

    The Mormons need to get their collective noses out of the business of people’s personal lives in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Believe what you want, but stop forcing that on others. Jesus is weeping at your lousy behavior.

    • BIG GUY June 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      ANYBODY, you are usually more coherent and better mannered than your, dare I say, “hateful” reply. You, Obama and most progressives are unwilling to acknowledge that radical Islam and its hateful leaders are solely responsible for Orlando. They animated a disaffected young man into mayhem as the ongoing investigation is showing. Islam clearly teaches that homosexuality is a capital offense and practices that teaching today in many Muslim-majority countries, including the Orlando shooters’ parents’ home country, Afghanistan. His father continues to state that belief clearly from his home in Minnesota.

      Progressives will blame the lack of gun control, blame Republicans, and blame Christian churches, none of whom influenced this young man or would have prevented his access to firearms. The majority in this country will see through that opportunism and recognize the source and motivation for Orlando and other terrorist killings. These murders will not stop until and unless radical Islam is repudiated and rejected by the huge mass of Muslim believers who will see it as a major impediment to furthering their religious aims (among which, by the way, is opposition to same sex marriage).

      • godisdead June 14, 2016 at 2:42 pm

        Big guy. The original argument was about the Mormon church using it’s influence to deny equal rights to the LGBT community in Mexico.
        I, for one, tire of your anti -Obama, pro – right wing radio rhetoric.
        This is what this is about – the Mormon church is throwing it’s resources into Mexico, hoping they can deny human rights to gays.
        It sure looks like another example of hate.

      • anybody home June 14, 2016 at 5:11 pm

        Oh, please…I have heard, and I’m quite sure you have too, countless people suggest that gays should be shot, hung, banned, “re-educated,” beaten up, and any number of other brutal things. The only thing that keeps them from following through is the laws of the U.S. and even then it doesn’t always stop them. And yes, I’ve heard that kind of talk in Utah. I don’t ask people if they are Mormons or not, but I do know that Mormons are strongly opposed to the gay life. Of course, they allowed same sex marriage – it is the law! But that doesn’t mean they – or you – believe it’s okay to be gay. You’re throwing up ridiculous arguments here to justify your own bigotry. I’m not buying it.

        • BIG GUY June 14, 2016 at 6:41 pm

          Your reply makes my point: I said nothing about gays or their connection to the Orlando shooting, but that is all you can focus on. Should I blame progressives for burgeoning meth use since they uniformly support legalizing marijuana? Should I blame atheists for the disintegration in family life? Should I blame Obama for Europe’s refugee crisis? I could stretch and make an admittedly weak connection for any of these. To do so would leave me standing on a very flimsy reed. But that connection would be stronger than you can possibly make for LDS church responsibility for the Orlando shooting. You are standing in thin air on this one. You’ve let your feelings overrun any sense of logic or proportion here. Give it a rest.

        • Henry June 14, 2016 at 6:55 pm

          Godisdead and AnybodyHome – stop the fascist tactics! Stop trying to destroy anyone who dares dissent from your views.

          Until recent years, the gay marriage issue was divided into three camps: 1) no recognition for any legal gay union; 2) gay civil unions; 3) gay marriage. Option #3 was considered fringe; today it’s U.S. Law. But back in 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA defined federal marriage as a union between one man and one woman (e.g., not option #3). DOMA had overwhelming bi-partisan support. Until 2012 flip-flops, both Barack Obama and Hillary did not support gay marriage. In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned DOMA, basically making gay marriage the law of the land.

          The vast majority of Americans were not in favor of gay marriage until fairly recently. Kudos to the LGBT community for extremely effective lobbying for changing the public’s opinion on this issue. For you two to frame anyone that morally opposed gay marriage is insultingly disingenuous and revisionist history.

          • ladybugavenger June 14, 2016 at 10:05 pm

            Oh Henry, they didn’t change me. (I am part of the public, right?) They just aren’t God fearing. I am. I don’t hate gays, I love Freddie Mercury. See. Too many Christians hate. I don’t support gay marriage and I don’t hate the gays. They seem to come against me for not supporting gay marriage and that’s just the way it is.

          • Bob June 14, 2016 at 10:08 pm

            “Kudos to the LGBT community for extremely effective lobbying for changing the public’s opinion on this issue”

            it wasn’t the gays that put this campaign into law. it was zog. no one will challenge anything they want to do. they own all the media, all the banks. really, what they say goes.

          • Henry June 15, 2016 at 9:47 am

            Ladybug and Bob – good points. Instead of saying “changing the public’s opinion”, it would’ve been more accurate to say “changing the public’s perception”. The LGBT lobbying has been very effective, although I certainly don’t agree with them either. One of the results of that lobbying is that now anyone who does not actively support their views is portrayed as a “hater” or “bigot” – when that description most aptly describes them.

        • Bob June 14, 2016 at 10:25 pm

          oh and to ‘anybody home’, i find it interesting that liberals will blame all xtians for persecution of gays but never muslims. What is this neo-liberal agenda to make muslims a protected victim class all about? Is it because of president barak hussein’s strong advocation that muslims are always good and sweet and nice? so, muslims=always victims, xtians=always persecutors?

  • r2d2 June 14, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    The majority doesn’t rule anymore. I’m sure 80% Catholics would rule to outlaw same sex marriage. LDS is no different. Just as it would be here if we put it up to a vote.

    • .... June 15, 2016 at 8:46 am

      I vote Bob get mental health assistance as soon as possible. ..pssssssst he’s a member of the one world government. ! Ha ha ha ha ha ha that’s some funny stuff right there ! oh well just goes to show you can’t fix stupid

  • ladybugavenger June 14, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    And this why there is a separation of church and state. If only, the LDS church would separate from the state. The world is going to hell, y’all better get right with Jesus so you don’t go down too.

    • .... June 15, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Hiya ladybug ☆

      • ladybugavenger June 15, 2016 at 4:16 pm

        Hey dot, we aren’t that much different….but you are creeping me out haha lol ?

  • St. G June 14, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    “Gays” have a happy moniker—vs “homosexuals.” Heterosexuals, bisexuals, transexuals, etc. could use their own, too. Any ideas?

    • Bob June 14, 2016 at 10:10 pm

      i’m sure Dumpster will be around with some great ideas, soon.

  • r2d2 June 14, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Separation of church and state was so the government could not sponsor a religion such as middle age Europe. If you weren’t a Catholic, you died for being a heretic. An example would be Iran. We don’t have any laws in Utah that say you have to be LDS. Get your facts straight. God bless America.

  • Bigdaddy June 15, 2016 at 12:44 am

    “Believe what you want, but stop forcing that on others. Jesus is weeping at your lousy behavior.” that just seems like as hypocritical a statement as has ever been written.
    Despite what anyone says, The Mormon church has every right to have its opinions, which are based on its teachings, and scriptural teachings as far back as the Old Testament, and it has the right to encourage members to live according to those teachings.
    If you want to discuss forcing ones views on others lets talk about the changes in public education being forced upon my children that teaches that homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality. In my opinion it is not, and my children should not have it forced upon them. Lets talk about the insignificant minority of our population who actually identify as LGBTQ and the disproportionate amount of news coverage, air time and political energy expended on this issue.
    If you want to discuss who spews hatred and encourages disorderly action, lets talk about how the Mormon church grounds were absolutely destroyed by Prop 8 opponents in what can only be described as a disgusting act of human behavior. And how the “hate filled” Mormon church never said anything, they just cleaned it up and went on about life. Never have I heard the church ever state or encourage teaching children to shun fellow children of same sex couples. Never have they taught anything other than love for fellow man.
    That does not mean they should be forced into accepting a belief, practice or opinion contrary to their own teachings. People like anybodyhome and godisdead are among the hypocritical sheep who believe the garbage they are told by the LGBTQ movement. You have your right to your opinions, so does everyone else. It sucks when you can’t apply logic to a topic due to hypocritical behavior.
    You sadly weaken your opinion when you loose control of reality.

    • Bob June 15, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      “talk about the insignificant minority of our population who actually identify as LGBTQ and the disproportionate amount of news coverage, air time”

      that’s what you get with a zog-owned media. they won’t get away with it forever.

      • .... June 15, 2016 at 6:45 pm

        Bob don’t worry about it I’m sure your one world government will put a stop to it lol !

    • 42214 June 15, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      What does the “Q” stand for in LGBTQ?

      • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic June 16, 2016 at 6:30 am

        Good question, 42214 (who was asking Bigdaddy). The Q can stand for either queer or questioning. Q seems to be more logical, according to the Associated Press style rules, because the other term is understood to be synonymous with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual. In news reports, we favor LGBT, omitting the Q, except when included as part of what someone has said. A columnist, may use variations in terminology, in that columnists write their own opinions and have some latitude when it comes to style.

        I hope that helps,

        ST. GEORGE NEWS
        Joyce Kuzmanic
        Editor in Chief

        Reply edited to indicate reply to 42214’s question, in the conversation thread with Bigdaddy – it was not Bigdaddy’s question.

        • 42214 June 16, 2016 at 8:32 pm

          I’ve read Big D’s post several times and I can’t see where he asked a question about what the “Q” stands for.

          • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic June 17, 2016 at 7:46 am

            Aha – it was your question, 42214. You replied to Bigdaddy: “What does the ‘Q’ stand for in LGBTQ?” That is what I was replying to and I have edited my response to so reflect. And now you know … 😀
            Thanks 42214.
            Joyce
            EIC

  • Jose June 16, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    “Mexico’s Congress, a surprisingly progressive legislature”

    Wow. Really? Does this author know anything about Mexico? Or about Mexican society, politics or economics??

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