Mexicans ditch sexist wedding vows

After 147 long years women can finally say "I do" without being humiliated.

Published July 31, 2006 3:58AM (EDT)

According to an AP story in yesterday's Boston Globe, the wedding vows traditionally recited by Mexican judges -- which proclaim wives both weak and annoying -- are thankfully falling out of favor as machismo loses some of its cultural impact, and people generally begin to recognize that predicating a modern marriage on sexist assumptions just won't cut it.

"Even though the Mexican constitution says we are equal, the vows put the woman in a very disadvantaged position where the man can make it her obligation to reproduce, take care of the home," Teresa Ulloa, president of the women's rights organization Defensoras Populares, told the AP.

The old vows -- a 537-word ode to marriage written by liberal politician Melchor Ocampo in 1859 -- were created to replace religious vows endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church. (After penning the vows Ocampo was executed for promoting the separation of church and state -- yet for some reason his vows were left in the civil marriage law.) In March, Defensoras Populares convinced Mexico's Congress to adopt a resolution that urges judges to skip the vows, though they are still on the books in 31 states.

The AP didn't reprint the full vows, but they sound pretty bad. In part they order a husband to treat his wife with "generous benevolence that the strong should give to the weak" and that a wife should "avoid awakening the most brusque, irritable and hard part of (her husband's) character."

Abandoning the traditional vows has inspired some Mexican states to hold contests to see who can come up with some classy, modern alternatives.

At one DIY wedding I attended, the husband promised his wife that he would forever endure her need to watch the WB. Perhaps that doesn't qualify as enlightened, but I thought it was pretty sweet. If you've heard -- or recited -- any great, egalitarian vows, tell us about them.

By Lori Leibovich

Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.

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