I’m a little behind on this one, but it’s a lovely story and I feel like writing something a little more positive since it’s the Christmas period and all.
Several news sources have reported the marriage of Ecuadorians Joey Hateley and Hugo Vera. Ecuador does not have equal marriage laws, but the couple successfully subverted homophobic and transphobic laws in order to enter into a legal partnership. As a trans man, Joey’s gender is not recognised by the state, which continues to regard him as female. This meant that he and Hugo were able to wed as “husband and wife” whilst clearly being husband and husband.
This event demonstrates that Ecuador (like nearly everywhere else in the world) has a long way to go before it achieves even the limited goal of equal access to state marriage by monogamous couples. It’s also important to recognise that most gay men in the country won’t have the “trans option” available to Joey and Hugo! However, the glorious thing about this marriage is that it allows the couple to officially recognise and celebrate their relationship whilst highlighting the inherant foolishness of both unequal marriage laws and non-recognition of trans peoples’ gender identities. By making their marriage loud and proud, the newlyweds have drawn attention to their cause and made a powerful case in favour of more progressive laws.
The attitude of LGBT organisations within Ecuador also seems to offer a fantastic example to the rest of the world. They appear to have seized upon the importance that this action has for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in a way that puts many UK organisations to shame. They demonstrate that it’s so easy for our fractured community to work together towards not just shared goals (e.g. equal marriage) but also goals that benefit certain aspects of the community (e.g. trans-friendly laws) at the same time. The LGBT(+) alliance makes so much sense because we have so much to gain by working alongside each other, because issues of sexual orientation are issues of gender identity in the law as well as in society. We have a lot to learn from this positive example.