First Gay Marriage on the Baja of Mexico
MEXICALI — Two Mexicali residents became the first same-sex couple to be married in Baja California on Saturday, ending a quest that began nearly two years after they first sought a marriage license.
Victor Fernando Urias Amparo, 37, and Victor Manuel Aguirre Espinoza, 43, took their vows amid a crush of media and supporters outside Mexicali City Hall. “Yes we could, yes we could,” the crowd cheered in Spanish.
The impromptu wedding ceremony came as a surprise to the pair, who had come to City Hall on Saturday morning to participate in a gay rights demonstration, said their attorney, Jose Luis Marquez. They had received hints that a wedding might take place, but were doubtful. They had already been rejected three times, despite an order from Mexico’s Supreme Court last June.
The last try was halted Jan. 10 after officials with the city’s civil registry received a complaint that the men “suffer from madness.” The complaint was filed by a volunteer who gives mandatory premarital talks to couples preparing for civil ceremonies. Earlier, she had refused to certify the couple in her seminar.
In recent days especially, the couple’s case has drawn widespread attention, especially among members of Mexico’s gay-rights community, whose members launched a social media campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #MisDerechosNoSonLocura, or “my rights are not madness.”
Marquez said the visibility brought to the case was critical. Without it, he said, “this would have been a cry that no one heard.”
On Saturday, the crowd of protesters began to gather about 9:30 a.m. at the government complex, and many in the crowd of about 500 snapped up T-shirts being sold for 50 pesos each that included the Twitter hashtag and a picture of two grooms.
The crowd marched around the plaza with a giant rainbow flag and listened to speeches.
At one point, the couple, their lawyer and a swarm of media went into City Hall. The couple and their lawyer met behind closed doors in the civil registry office, then went upstairs into the mayor’s office.
They emerged with smiles about 30 minutes later and announced the marriage was on.
The ceremony was performed under a canopy in front of City Hall, with the grooms seated on one side of a table and a gaggle of cameras surrounding them.
Their vows complete, the husbands exchanged kisses, and a bottle of Champagne was popped to cheers and applause.
Retired San Diego journalist Rex Wockner contributed to this report.