Steve And Fernando
By Tom Nussbaum
Is it possible for a middle-class Protestant from Northern Ireland to find love with a quasi-Jewish member of an accomplished Mexican family? Yes, it is. But, like in all relationships, challenges will have to be overcome, hoops will have to be jumped through, and commitment will be tested. The challenges and hoops in this case, however, are more complex, rather unique, and quite interesting.
They met in a Puerto Vallarta real estate office in 2004. The Irish one worked there. The Mexican was looking for a rental. They became a couple immediately. But it took nine years for the relationship to become legal and the road they followed to achieve the status and receive the recognition they desired contained several forks, bumps, and detours.
Steve Cross, the Irishman with eyes so watery-blue Crayola has not yet given it a name, and Fernando Gomez, whose lineage contains strains of Jewish ancestry on his maternal side, observed from their new home in Ajijic the legalization of same-sex marriage in Mexico City in 2009 with joy and anticipation. We can go there, they thought, and get married.
But while the law had been passed by the Legislative Assembly, all the details, processes, and requirements hadn’t been worked out. Steve and Fernando, seeking a legal marriage and recognition of their commitment to each other, ran into one roadblock after another, among them a six-month residency requirement in the nation’s capital. But no obstacle was more challenging than the need for Steve, as a foreigner, to return to Northern Ireland to get necessary documents.
Upon arriving in Northern Ireland, Steve and Fernando discovered that civil unions were legal there and the waiting period for a license was only two weeks, a far shorter period than the residency requirement in Mexico. Besides, they theorized, another roadblock could be set up after we’ve resided in Mexico for the six-months. The duo decided then to remain in Northern Ireland and enter into a civil union rather than their original goal of marriage.
In January 2016, through a landmark ruling by Mexico’s Supreme Court, Jalisco became the sixth state in Mexico to allow same-sex marriage. Simply stated, this means same-sex couples can go to a civil registry and apply to marry without fear of refusal. In a post-ruling press release, the non-profit group Union Diversa de Jalisco declared, “This is an historic day for human rights and all LGBT people, as well as the state of Jalisco. Legislators will now be forced to change the Civil Code and its secondary laws.”
But according to Cross, who speaks from experience and through the filter of having had to jump through hoops and over obstacles, “It seems passing a law in Mexico is different than enacting it. It will take time to work out the details. It will also take time for same-sex marriage to be seen as normal. It has had opposition. But the groundwork is laid.”
And, perhaps, as legal complications are eased and processes simplified, Steve and Fernando will have the legal term for their relationship modified from civil union to marriage. Marriage should be, after all, marriage.
(Tom Nussbaum’ s recently published novel The Dark Blue Heart, which chronicles a statewide initiative campaign to repeal same-sex marriage in a fictitious US state and follows its evolvement from a war of words to civil war, is available on amazon.com and at Diane Pearl’s.)
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