MEXICO CITY, June 14 (UPI) -- As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs the issue of same-sex marriage, Mexico's high court keeps moving forward on the issue by allowing gay marriages there -- even without officially putting it on the law books.
Currently, laws in most Mexican states do not allow for gay couples to marry, yet members of the LGBT community have been doing just that for years, The New York Times reported Sunday.
One couple, Hiram Gonzalez and Severiano Chavez, married in Chihuahua last year despite the fact that it's illegal there. Subsequent decisions by the Mexican Supreme Court, though, have upheld gay unions -- putting Mexico in a slowly growing group of Latin American countries that support the practice.
"When I heard the judge pronounce us legally married, I burst into tears," said Gonzalez, who needed a court order to marry his boyfriend last year.
Mexico's high court has declared in recent years that a ban on gay marriage constitutes discrimination -- and, thus, it's not legal. And those decisions have allowed numerous same-sex couples to do something many feared Mexico would never allow.
Mexico City legalized gay marriage in 2009, and nearly 5,300 couples have wed since, the Times reported. Of the country's 31 states, only two have legalized the practice.
Earlier this month, the Mexican Supreme Court revisited and expanded upon the matter -- so as to formally declare that every state with a ban on gay marriage is practicing discrimination. The court's decree has been viewed as a major turning point for the issue.
"As the purpose of matrimony is not procreation, there is no justified reason that the matrimonial union be heterosexual, nor that it be stated as between only a man and only a woman," the court said in its ruling. "Such a statement turns out to be discriminatory in its mere expression."
A landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is expected at the end of June, when justices will determine whether gay Americans have the fundamental right to marry partners of the same sex. The ruling could also uphold the constitutionality of bans against the practice.