Standing on the Side of Love in Mexico

By Eric Cherry

Earlier this Spring the President of the UU Fellowship of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico - Lee Veal - received the following correspondence: Hola Lee, Francisco Lagunes Gaitán de la Libre Comunidad Unitaria de Mexico (LCUM) me paso tu nombre... Estoy buscando a un ministro religioso que pueda dirigir una ceremonia matrimonial para mi y mi pareja el 7 de Marzo del 2009.en San Miguel de Allende. Estas disponible para dirigir esta ceremonia entre dos personas del mismo sexo? Si estas disponible, podriamos juntarnos tu y yo para platicar y obtener un poco mas de informacion? Yo actualmente vivo en Celaya pero viajo una vez por semana a San Miguel. Si no estas disponible para dirigir esta ceremonia, conoces a alguien que lo pueda hacer? Gracias, Chris Alvárez
(English translation: Hello, Lee. Francsico Gaitán of the Free Unitarian Congregation ofMexico gave me your name. I am looking for a minister that can direct a matrimonial ceremony for me and my partner on the 7th of March 2009 in San Miguel de Allende. Are you available to direct this ceremony for two people of the same sex? If you are available we would like to meet with you to chat and to get more information. Right now, I live in Celaya [about 40 minutes by car south of SMA], but I travel to San Miguel once a week. If you are not available for this ceremony, do you know someone who could do it? Thank you, C.A.)
Lee responded to Chris's request by explaining that he was not a minister, but that the lay-led Fellowship in San Miguel was expecting a sabbatical visit from Reverend Gail Tapscott (minister of the First UU Church of Fort Lauderdale, FL) during the period they were planning their ceremony. Rev. Tapscott was very pleased to be of assistance. And, with Lee providing translation during the event, a bilingual religious ceremony joining Chris and Omar together in loving union was held. According to Lee,
The ceremony had several elements which helped to declare their bond one to another, mixing of sands, exchanging wedding bands, vows (called votos in Spanish, ergo a 'votive' candle represent a vow being made, cool!), music, support and strength pledged by friends and family. After the ceremony we retired to the first floor of the house that Chris is having built in SMA. Many of us congregated in the kitchen where drinks were being prepared. During the exchanges among the guest, Gail and I were asked how it was that a 'church' would sanction such a union. They were not being judgmental, they were more than anything expressing a curious and puzzled praise. The only religious paradigm that most of the folks there have to work with is that of the Catholic church. I took the opportunity with Rev. Tapscott's help to give an extended 'elevator speech' completely in Spanish which extolled the principles, history and views of the Unitarian Universalist church. The pareja lesbiana (lesbian couple) who were providing the music for the day's festivities asked if we (the UUs) would be able to conduct the ceremony that they wanted to have in the next year or so. They, too, had been blocked by the Catholic church. I should add that the ceremony which Rev. Tapscott directed and I helped was unofficial. Mexico, in general, does not recognize or sanction either civil unions or gay marriages. so this ceremony was only a spiritual commitment. There is hope, though, as Chris wrote me, saying, "Las uniones civiles entre dos hombres solo son posibles y validas en la Ciudad de Mexico... se llaman 'sociedades de convivencia'" ("Civil unions between two men are only possible and valid en the Mexico City... they're called 'living associations'").
Congratulations and warm blessings to Chris and Omar. And, also to Rev. Tapscott, Lee Veal, and the UU Fellowship of San Miguel de Allende for Standing on the Side of Love. Christopher Alvárez and Omar Zúñiga with Rev. Tapscott and Lee Veal

About the Author

Eric Cherry

Eric was the Director of the UUA’s International Office since August 2007. Prior to this Eric served for 12 years as a parish minister with UU congregations in Burlington, Iowa and N. Easton, Massachusetts. Eric has long been involved in the UU Partner Church movement, serving as the English...


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