President Enrique Pena Nieto proposed Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in Mexico, a move that would enshrine on a national level a Supreme Court ruling last year that it was unconstitutional for states to bar such couples from wedding.
Speaking at an event on the International Day Against Homophobia, Pena Nieto said he signed initiatives that would seek to add same-sex marriage provisions to Mexico's constitution and the national civil code.
Pena Nieto said he would seek to reform Article 4 of the constitution to clearly reflect the Supreme Court opinion "to recognize as a human right that people can enter into marriage without any kind of discrimination."
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"That is, for marriages to be carried out without discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or nationality, of disabilities, of social or health conditions, of religion, of gender or sexual preference," he added.
Pena Nieto's Twitter page and other government Twitter accounts were turned to include the rainbow colors as he made the announcement.
Gay marriage is already legal in some parts of Mexico such as the capital, the northern state of Coahuila and Quintana Roo state on the Caribbean coast. Adding it to the constitution and the civil code would expand gay marriage rights across the country.
Last June, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for Mexican states to ban same-sex couples from getting married. But the decision did not specifically overturn state laws, meaning couples have had to sue in court in each particular case.
Alejandro Brito, director of Letra S, a human rights group specializing in sexual diversity issues, called Pena Nieto's announcement great news.
"I think it sends a very clear message of respect and against discrimination toward sexual diversity," Brito said. "If it is enshrined in the constitution and the Supreme Court has established a precedent on this, it would seem just a question of time before all (government) entities across the country recognize equal marriage. ... I think this is a battle that has been won."
Twenty-three countries around the world have legalized gay marriage, according to Pew Research. Argentina became the first in Latin America to do so in 2010, followed by Brazil and Uruguay in 2013 and Colombia earlier this year. Chile allowed same-sex civil unions last year.
Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed to this report.