Osraldo Juarez and Geraldo Sanchez, regulars at Esta Noche, after hearing news of Mexico City's legalization of gay marriage.

Mexico City became the first Latin American city to legalize same-sex marriage today, redefining marriage in its civil code as the “free uniting of two people.”

The bill, which passed 39-20 in the city’s assembly, extends rights such as the ability to adopt children or apply for bank loans together, to gay couples. Mayor Marcelo Ebrard is expected to sign the bill into law.

Many in San Francisco’s heavily-Latino Mission District reacted positively to the news, such as Geraldo Sanchez and Osraldo Juarez, regulars at Esta Noche. After hearing about Mexico City’s new legislation, the two friends turned to each other and smiled before they said the same words at the same time: “Esta bien.

Robert Sharrard, another regular at the bar on 16th Street near Valencia, shared the same sentiment.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “Anything that expands institutional freedoms, whether it’s gay marriage or anything, is a good thing. This is incredible for Latin America.”

One of the owners of Esta Noche, Manuel Quijano, poses in front of his bar on 16th Street.
One of the owners of Esta Noche, Manuel Quijano, poses in front of his bar on 16th Street.

Others, like Manuel Quijano, reacted positively but cautiously.

“It’s tremendous — the whole world, including America, has changed,” said Quijano, one of the owners of Esta Noche, San Francisco’s first gay Latino bar. “But it’s a shame America doesn’t do it. It’s great for the future to come, especially young teenagers who don’t know the struggle it’s been. They’re getting it on a silver platter.”

But with California’s Proposition 8 still fresh in many people’s minds, one patron at Esta Noche also had his reservations.

“We should follow through in California,” Dante Roldan said. “It’ll take a while — that’s a way of life. There are still a lot of conservative people, so I don’t know how long it’ll take.”

As for San Francisco, which briefly legalized and performed same-sex marriages before being overturned by Prop 8, the future is uncertain.

Buenos Aires, Argentina would have been the first to legalize same-sex marriages in October of this year, but that bill has been stalled without a vote. The city was the first in Latin America to legalize same-sex civil unions in 2002.

Others followed suit, including Mexico City in 2007.

As of today, four states in the United States currently allow same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont. New Hampshire will legalize same-sex marriages on Jan. 1, 2010.

Seven countries have legalized gay marriage: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway and most recently, Sweden.

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Kimberly is currently a journalism major and business minor at San Francisco State University. Come May 2010, she will be moving on to bigger and better things, i.e. living and breathing journalism, not just studying it. But for now you can usually find her at City Hall every Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meetings. Having lived her entire life in San Francisco, she itches to travel far and wide, most likely to be convinced that every other city and town pales in comparison.

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