Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of State has selected Lizeth Martinez of Mexico as June’s International Exchange Alumni Member of the Month. Throughout June, Martinez will be recognized on the International Exchange Alumni website for her leadership in championing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues. Each month, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs confers this award on an outstanding alumnus or alumna of an exchange program to support their efforts to build on their exchange experiences.

During her 2012 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) exchange in the United States, which focused on LGBT rights, Lizeth Martinez saw how civil rights could be defended through legal action. When she returned home, Lizeth founded the nonprofit organization, Derechos Humanos Integrales en Accion (DHIA A.C.). Through her nonprofit, Lizeth deftly maneuvers the politics of Chihuahua State to challenge marginalization and discrimination in Ciudad Juarez. Of her exchange, Lizeth fondly notes, “My IVLP experience inspired me to start my own nonprofit organization, DHIA A.C. This was a lifelong dream of mine, but I had always been scared. IVLP showed me that I could take a chance and do something for myself while helping my community.”

To ensure that all people are permitted to marry in her state, Lizeth requested a writ of amparo, a civil rights revision, to protect constitutional rights. She was able to prove that the state law prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional because it violated the first article of the Mexican Constitution. Thanks to Lizeth, the legal revision led to the first marriage of a gay couple in Ciudad Juarez on February 13, 2014.

To learn more about Lizeth Martinez, visit the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Exchange Alumni website at https://alumni.state.gov/featured-alumni/member-month.