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Did Church Resistance to Same-Sex Marriage Sway June Elections in Mexico?

David Agren - Catholic News Service
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July 1, 2016
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At this year's Pride parade in Mexico City, which an estimated 200,000 people attended, this gigantic flag was brought out to celebrate marriage equality in the city. (Mashable)

Mexicans turned out in droves to oust the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in June 5 regional elections. Exit polls showed voters citing crime and corruption for removing the party of increasingly unpopular President Enrique Pena Nieto in seven of the 12 states holding gubernatorial elections.

Church officials, however, cited an additional issue driving discontent: same-sex marriage, which Pena Nieto has proposed legalizing across the country and enshrining in the constitution. Some senior officials in the church even claimed credit for fomenting a punishment vote, saying the Catholics cost Pena Nieto and his party at the polls.

How much the same-sex marriage issue and Catholic Church intervention - along with the intervention from evangelical congregations - swayed Mexico's recent elections remains disputed.

Mexican society has not traditionally mobilized over controversial social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, even though polling shows opposition to the issues and census data say 83 percent of the population professes Catholicism. A poll in the newspaper El Universal published after the elections showed 49 percent of Mexicans opposed same-sex marriage, though 43 percent approved. Nearly 70 percent disagreed with same-sex couples adopting children.

Some church observers say the bishops are overstating their influence, which they say carries more currency in elite circles and polite society than with the masses. A spokesman for the Mexican bishops' conference was unavailable by deadline.

"The Catholic Church historically has had as a practice forming direct links with elites and the political class, but distanced itself for much of that time from the citizenry and the faithful," said Bernardo Barranco, a columnist and church observer.

Read the rest at America Magazine

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