“NO DRESS CODE REQUIRED”— The Right to Marry

“NO DRESS CODE REQUIRED” (“ETIQUETA NO RIGUROSA”)

The Right to Marry

Amos Lassen

Stylists Victor and Fernando help many Mexicali brides look beautiful on their wedding day, but when they decide to marry, they embark on a complicated journey requiring them to navigate Baja California’s legal system and serpentine bureaucracies. They are determined to marry and neither bomb threats nor accusations of mental illness stop these determined men from marrying in their hometown. Cristina Herrera Borquez’ compelling and poignant documentary reminds us that the fight for global marriage equality is not over.

I got the impression that what most bothered the local Mexican authorities who schemed to deny Victor and Fernando the right to marry was not just a gender or sexual issue but that the two men were handsome and resilient but that they were both best friends and lovers. The authorities simply did not want them to be happy.

This is the story of the men’s long hard struggle to overwhelm a whole series of ridiculous obstacles that their local City Hall in Baja California kept putting in their way to deny them a marriage ceremony.  When Victor and Fernando, who run their own Beauty Shop together in Mexicali, first decided to get married, they thought about traveling to Mexico City where a few other gay couples had married after a Supreme Court Judge had ruled that same-sex marriages were legal.  However  they decided instead to become the first gay couple to marry in their home town, thus breaking down barriers for other LGBTQ couples in their State.

At first it all seemed something of an adventurous lark as they filled in all the paperwork and even attend the compulsory Pre-Marital Course where the instructor tells the whole Class that they must invite God into their bedrooms before having sex.  However just before they turn up at City Hall for their wedding ceremony, their Lawyer is told that there are unexplained errors in their paperwork and so that they cannot proceed.  This was the first of many similar occasions in the next couple of years when despite a favorable ruling from a District Judge, local officials find bizarre and ridiculous excuses as to why they cannot proceed with marrying the two men.  One time they actually faked a Bomb Hoax so that the City Hall  has to be evacuated.

Through it all, the men maintain a remarkable sense of good humor. When they are finally convinced that their paperwork is acceptable to the Registrar and the wedding will proceed, they plan a big evening reception. Then the ceremony is canceled again and our hearts break as we watch them dancing together at a joyless wedding party with tears rolling down their faces.   

We see that homophobic authorities choose the parts of the Law that suits them, and in this particular case they have dragged up petty restrictions that have been obsolete for decades to support their prejudiced point of view.  It forces Victor and Fernando, and the community that support them and the two men behave with a sense of dignity, never letting what is happening change their determination to marry legally. They never stop demanding the rights that have been wrongfully withheld from them by those blatantly misusing their powers to support their homophobia and hatred.

This is a story that is beautifully rendered and it reminds us how our community will always be in debt to brave and courageous people like Victor and Fernando. We see the importance of sticking together so that we can help reshape our future and the future for LGBTQ generations to come.