AN ECONOMIST and a journalist have become the first couple united under Mexico City's new gay civil union law, kissing while a string orchestra played 'Besame Mucho' and police cordoned off streets around a white wedding tent.
The new law grants same-sex couples inheritance rights and social benefits similar to those enjoyed by married heterosexual couples. It reflects a growing acceptance of homosexuality in what has traditionally been a macho society, as well as a willingness by Mexico City - the second municipality in the country to legalise same-sex unions - to join the international debate on gay 'marriage'.
After dating for more than four years, journalist Antonio Medina, 38, and economist Jorge Cerpa, 31, signed documents under a banner that read: "Civil Union Law: Your right to choose."
Dozens of supporters, including several couples who plan to register their own same-sex unions soon, waved rainbow flags, showered the couple with flower petals and shouted "Bravo!" Firecrackers exploded nearby.
"With this law, a history of exclusion comes to an end," Medina said. "The love that before did not dare speak its name has now entered the public spotlight."
"Love now has one less obstacle," said Mexico City lawmaker Victor Hugo Cirigo, a supporter of the new statute.