The lawyer who thumbed his nose at inequality

My hero this week is a notary public.

I’ve mentioned here that marriage equality will be the law of the land in Costa Rica in May, and that this month’s Daily Boost is dedicated to LGBTQ rights. But if you follow Costa Rican news, you might know that in 2015, a lawyer performed the marriage of two women despite the fact that gay marriage was not yet legal. It was made possible by one of the most momentous clerical errors I’ve ever heard of: one of the women had been accidentally registered as a man by Costa Rican authorities, making it technically possible for her to marry her girlfriend. Their marriage was one of the acts that helped momentum grow for the arrival of marriage equality in Costa Rica, which will be finalized in just a few months.

Marco Castillo was the notary who put the marriage into the history books, and this week, Judge Francisco Porras ordered that Castillo be stripped of his right to practice law for 13 years. He also annulled the women’s marriage and asked the Civil Registry to provide him with a list of any other notaries who have committed similar acts. As activists and the media soon revealed, the judge’s personal Facebook page is awash with conservative posts, particularly arguments against abortion; a copy of the sentence from a source I trust has circulated online and is a real piece of work, although I won’t comment on the details since I haven’t confirmed myself that it’s the real sentence (honestly, it’s hard to believe that a judge could write such an incoherent and vile statement). As you might imagine, an appeal is in the works.

I wrote on Monday that the Year of Love, as some have dubbed this in Costa Rica, will bring with it lots of hate. The implementation of marriage equality will spark plenty of backlash, and we need to brace ourselves. This week’s absurd decision is just one example to prove this point. Especially during a week when 52 of my own country’s elected authorities showed themselves unwilling to stand up for what’s right even when they have the full backing of the law and even the Constitution, I am so grateful that people like Marco Castillo are in the world, ready to stand up for what’s right even if it’s still illegal.

May this judge’s decision, an absurd and unjust setback on Costa Rica’s winding path toward civil rights, be overturned as soon as possible.

Photo: Karla Pérez for ElMundo.cr. Read their story here: https://www.elmundo.cr/costa-rica/notario-que-caso-a-dos-mujeres-apelara-fallo-de-juzgado-que-pide-suspenderlo-y-anular-matrimonio/

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter). 

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