Mexico natives Daniel Berezowsky and Jaime Chávez Alor walked into New York’s Mexican consulate in May with the goal of obtaining a marriage license, but what followed was a rollercoaster ride of rejections, legalities, and finally, an historic kiss.
Berezowsky and Alor, who first met during high school in 2006 and reconnected six years later through the power of social media, intended to be married in New York under Mexican law. They conducted research and noticed that Mexico’s federal code does not define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, even though many local codes do.
Nevertheless, they were dealt a setback when their marriage application was rejected on the grounds that same-sex marriage was not a part of the federal code in Mexico, where marriage equality exists in 12 of 32 states. The government, Berezowsky said, justified their rejection by pointing to the terminology of “men and women” in an article in the civil code that established an age limit for marriage.
“When we were rejected, we had two options,” Berezowsky told Gay City News. “Either say ‘OK,’ and get married whenever it happens in Mexico, or we can continue fighting for this.”
The couple decided to carry on with their case, and they felt they didn’t have much choice in it, either. If one person’s visa expired, he said, the other couldn’t be a dependent, and they were already in New York to pursue their respective master’s degree programs. That’s where they wanted to tie the knot — but they wanted to do so under the law of their home country.
They planned to marry after spending years in transient living situations spanning three countries. In the early stages of the relationship, Berezowsky was living in Canada while Chavez was in Mexico. They eventually moved in together in Mexico before Berezowsky moved to New York, followed by Alor one year later. What happened next wasn’t in the plans.
They went to court and sued the Mexican government for discriminating against them. They went through a Mexican constitutional appeal process known as Amparo law — and then they had to wait. During that time, they caught more flak from the government.
“Before the judge ruled, the Foreign Ministry said there was no discrimination because they said there was no true harm,” Berezowsky explained. “Obviously, it’s discriminatory in many ways.”
A pro bono attorney handled their case in Mexico, which they said helped tremendously because they had to remain in New York at the time. After many months of waiting for the government’s response, they breathed a sigh of relief when a judge ruled in their favor on October 19. The government had 10 days to file an appeal, but instead decided to let the ruling stand.
The couple got married at their Upper East Side apartment on November 26, and in the process they became the first same-sex couple to be married under Mexican law outside of Mexico.
“We invited family members to fly in, they booked tickets, and friends came as well,” Berezowsky said. “We had about 20 people there accompanying us.”
The couple believes that their marriage could set a precedent for others who could follow in their footsteps — including those who are undocumented and unable to return to Mexico to be married.
“That opens a lot of interesting opportunities,” Berezowsky said. “A Mexican couple in Poland, for example, or any other country, can now go to the consulate and use our case.”