First came love, then came justice

People in both my countries have had reasons to celebrate lately when it comes to a few key legal decisions. (Hi there, RBG ‘n’ friends.) In Costa Rica, it’s because of a labyrinthine, international legal process that eventually resulted in the legalization of gay marriage one month ago, on May 26th.

La República reported recently that in the first full month of marriage equality, 107 same-sex couples have tied the knot in Costa Rica. (The article goes on to point out very that there are still some questions to resolve: “practical aspects” such as “how will the law penalizing violence against women be applied? And what will happen with maternity leave with a person who identifies as a man?” Oh, lordy.)

Here’s to those 107 couples and their long-awaited nuptials – such a bright spot during a dreary time.

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 FacebookIf you want to learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section, updated regularly – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.

 

Alexandra, Daritza and the righting of wrongs

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The arrival of marriage equality in Costa Rica will provoke pushback from the many people who oppose it. So while, on the one hand, it is a shame that the mass celebrations that were being planned for the big moment – last night, at midnight – it also felt like a blessing that this historic moment took place in privacy. No protests, no demonstrations. Each of us was free to connect with the people for whom this meant most; watch their joy in the distant, yet strangely personal online setting that has framed so many of our interactions during this pandemic; and marvel in our own way.

To paraphrase a certain Book, we treasured all these things, pondering them in our hearts.

The major networks, public television and Sí, Acepto Costa Rica joined forces for a special broadcast that counted down to midnight (if you missed it, it is worth checking it out). In this way, it was like a New Year’s broadcast, but it felt more like Christmas because of the quiet, and the waiting. So much waiting. It is overwhelming to see all the faces: face after face of couples who have waited to marry, activists who have waited to see the fruits of their labor, allies who have walked with them along the way. All the marches, all the legal battles, all the bureaucracy, all the suffering. Several people mentioned all those who were no longer with us. They waited until their time ran out. The weight of what was owed to them, and never paid, was almost palpable. It was their pressure, however private or personal, against the closet door, their pressure against hatred and rage, their pressure on behalf of love that finally broke through with the force of millions.

So many of the struggles that preceded last night’s celebration were private, silent, lonely. It seemed right, somehow, that we marked this occasion from our homes. It seems almost miraculous that people who have been denied their rights and been excluded for so long were able to open a computer in the middle of the night, connect to thousands of others, and see that situation change before their very eyes. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time reading the Harry Potter series to my daughter, but it felt like a magic portal. I guess that’s what the law can do.

As it was before the first Christmas, some people are afraid. They will be heard, I know. But for this one moment, it was pure joy. Even through a grainy Zoom call, each participant a tiny square on the computer screen, you could see the exhaustion and release of the moment on many a face. Faces of the waiting that was finally rewarded.

“The people who will enjoy these rights are not strangers. They are our daughters and sons,” said President Carlos Alvarado in a video message. “All they want is space for the respect and dignity that every human being deserves.”

Congratulations Alexandra and Daritza, the first couple to be (publicly, at least) married after the clock struck midnight. As your wedding gift, I wish with all my might that the president’s words will come true: “May empathy and love be the compass that allows us to make it through.”

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 FacebookIf you want to learn more about how to support Costa Rica during the crisis, visit my COVID-19 section, updated regularly – or for ways to enjoy Costa Rica from afar, visit Virtual Costa Rica.

This year, everyone gets to say ‘I do’

In Spanish, you don’t say “I do.” You say, “I accept.” And that makes the name of the nonprofit organization working to usher in Costa Rica’s era of marriage equality – Sí Acepto – all the more poignant. It’s what gay couples will finally be able to say once the law changes in May, but it’s also what the rest of the country needs to say, over and over, in larger and larger numbers.

The campaigns that Sí Acepto has been organizing around the country are aimed at easing that transition. I’ve just been sitting here worrying about what might lie ahead for same-sex couples who enter the spotlight once marriage equality arrives in May, not realizing that Sí Acepto, among other amazing organizations in this field, are on it. They’re making advertisements, highlighting the economic benefits that increased wedding tourism will bring, and organizing workshops to help raise awareness about what marriage equality is all about.

At their website, you can sign a statement showing your support for marriage equality, share your story (no matter what your background or sexual orientation) about why this issue is important to you, donate time or money to the cause, and more. And their Facebook feed is the clearinghouse for inspiring stories about people planning to wed this year, news about the work going on nationwide, and more.

Thanks, Sí Acepto, for charging to the fore in building a country that says “I do,” not just to more weddings but to a better, fairer society.

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! Each month in 2020 has a monthly theme, and February’s is marriage equality, so scroll back through the month to see several posts highlighting people and organizations working on behalf of this issue in Costa Rica. 

 

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). 

Celebrating love – and 100 days of my yearlong Boost

Welcome to February! I know a lot of folks aren’t particularly fond of Valentine’s Day, but this year I think it’s worth some extra celebration – because it’s the month of love in what some people in Costa Rica have dubbed the Year of Love. As I’ve posted before, this is the year that marriage equality will finally be the law of the land (on May 26, to be exact. That’s the day that the 18-month deadline set by Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court for legislators to make marriage equality legal, will elapse; if they haven’t taken action by that date, the legislation prohibiting gay marriage will automatically be voided).

Of course, this also means we need to buckle our seatbelts, because the news of marriage equality and photos of happy couples will undoubtedly spur yet another backlash. So for this month’s deep dive, I’ll be looking at some of the individuals and organizations who are serving and protecting Costa Rica’s LGBTQ community, and otherwise promoting the right to love.

In other news, I’ve started taking the day number off of my daily posts to avoid distraction, and thereby failed to note that Friday was Day 100 of my yearlong self-challenge to write something every weekday! To all those who’ve been along for the ride since Day 1, thank you!

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). 

The year of love has arrived!

A big year in Costa Rican history has begun: the year that marriage equality will finally be the law of the land (on May 26, to be exact. That’s the day that the 18-month deadline set by Costa Rica’s Constitutional Courte for legislators to make marriage equality legal, will elapse; if they haven’t taken action by that date, the legislation prohibiting gay marriage will automatically be voided).

So for this first Monday of 2020, I’m full-on stealing an idea from my new Facebook friend Melissa Floress: celebrating (and tagging) everyone I can think of who is ready to help Costa Rica’s LGBTQ couples – or visiting couples – tie the knot in 2020. I know nowhere near as many people as Melissa, so I am simply reproducing her recommendations, but I would love to hear about the many additional businesses I know are out there who would love to help celebrate some very special and long overdue weddings in 2020! (You can also read more about LGBTQ-diverse businesses in Costa Rica through the Cámara Diversa.)

Event planning: Royal Eventos CR

Music: DJ Pablo Mena, Cimarrona Andree Perdomo J

Cakes: Palma Dulce Pastelería & Productos Gourmet, Angela Poppe

Makeup: Steph Zamora Maquillista, Andrey Ruiz

Decoration: Cindy Aguilar Madrigal

Flowers: Eli Arias

Food: Sylvi Ta, Pao Alvarenga de @Amarena

Clothing design: Kasandra Farrier, Andrea Gil

Spa packages for the wedding party: Lorena Herrera

Photography: Susan Alpizar

Master of ceremonies: Sofia Porras Aguilar

Notaries: Sue Mey, Laura Castro (Laura can provide services in English)

Hotels for the honeymoon: Casitas Tenorio (Bijagua), Hotel Kasha (Caribbean)

Who am I missing?

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).