Benjamin Medrano, First Openly Gay Mayor In Mexico, Says He's 'Not In Favor' Of Gay Marriage [VIDEO]

Benjamín Medrano
Medrano will become mayor of a municipality where, in his words, "there are 258 villages full of tough country people, who don’t necessarily have much information on what’s happening elsewhere, and have even less of an automatic sympathy with their gay mayor." Twitter/ Benjamin Medrano

This September, Benjamín Medrano will take office as mayor of Fresnillo, in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. In doing so, Medrano will become the country's first openly gay mayor. But Medrano, a 47-year-old singer and owner of a gay bar, says he doesn't believe the time is right in his hometown for debates over same-sex marriage. "I'm not in favor of gay marriage," he told the Associated Press. "I don't share that view, because we are still very small town ... in short, we're not prepared, in my view. Not yet, anyway, because we have strong roots in our religion, and in our customs."

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His appeal among Fresnillo's staunchly Catholic constituency might be attributable to that stance. The mayor describes his hometown as "very machista".

"I am going to be mayor of a township where there are 258 villages full of tough country people, who don't necessarily have much information on what's happening elsewhere, and have even less of an automatic sympathy with their gay mayor," he told the AP. "But it's not like I'm going to paint city hall pink, either."

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Fresnillo, a city of 230,000 happens to sit smack in the middle of an important plaza, or drug turf. Two drug cartels, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, are fighting for control of it. This past Wednesday, a body was found mutilated, wrapped in plastic bags, and dumped in a well - not an uncommon occurrence in the area, where victims of organized crime are often found hacked up within the town's limits.

He ran his campaign on a platform of restoring security to the municipality, cracking down on police corruption and establishing control over the drug cartels who operate in the area.

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"I'm not at risk, because I don't have any relationship with any of the groups," Medrano told the AP, though he added, "Of course, I have the same fear that anybody who lives in Fresnillo has."

Medrano, who became the target of a smear phone-call campaign regarding his sexuality and carried out by political rivals, has attended gay rights marches in the past. But he's also a Roman Catholic. "I wish the church had a different view, but I cannot go against doctrine," he says. "I respect my church, and I don't want to dig any deeper beyond what's permitted and what is appropriate."

Same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico in the capital of Mexico City and the state of Quintana Roo.

What do you think?

David Iaconangelo is a Brooklyn-based writer and translator.  Formerly editor of ZafraLit, a blog of new short fiction from Cuba.  He has lived in and reported from various Latin American countries.