Mexico's highest court legalized same-sex marriage on Jan. 26 in Jalisco state, which is home to more than 7 million inhabitants and contains the country's second-largest city, Guadalajara.

The Supreme Court ruled the western Mexican state was not permitted to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman, as it had attempted to do through state law, The Associated Press reported. Such a provision would be in violation of the national constitution, the tribunal noted.

Jalisco thus becomes the third state where gay couples will be legally equal to their heterosexual counterparts. Coahuila, in northern Mexico, and Quintana Roo, home to the popular vacation spot Cancún, already allow same-sex marriage, as does the Distrito Federal that surrounds Mexico City.

State Law 'Violated Right to Self-determination'

The court struck down Article 260 of Jalisco's Civil Code, which stated, "To enter into matrimony, the man and the woman need to be at least 16 years of age," underlining that such language was unconstitutional.

"[The article] violated people's [right to] self-determination and every individual's right to the free development of one's personality, in a manner that implicitly created a violation of the principle of equality," the court said in a statement, "because it ordered a different treatment for homosexual couples than for heterosexual couples by preventing couples of the same sex from marrying."

LGBT Advocates Celebrate Decision

Gay rights activists in Guadalajara cheered the ruling, which had been expected after the Supreme Court had already affirmed last year that local laws banning same-sex marriage were, in principle, unconstitutional, though it still needs to hear individual cases on a state-by-state basis.

But the LGBT organization Colectivo Unión Diversa decried that it took a court decision to pave the way for equal rights in Jalisco, El Informador noted.

"The question now is when the Jalisco state legislature will finally accede to this decision (and) modify the civil code," the group said. "We regret that it took a Supreme Court decision to defend human rights. ... The Supreme Court corrected our public servants and did their job for them."