Ever since gay marriage became legal in Spain in 2005, thousands of
lesbian couples have tied the knot. But this law has an interesting
precedent; Marcela and Elisa were married in 1901. In a church wedding!
Wedding photo of Marcela (left) and Elisa, dressed as a man.
Of course, same-sex marriage was not legal in Spain at the time, so the
two school teachers had to come up with a delicate scheme. One day,
Elisa and Marcela simulated a fight in the house they shared in the tiny
village of Dumbría, and Elisa moved to A Coruña.
While there, Elisa cut her hair, started wearing men’s clothes, and took
up smoking. She found a priest desperate to gain parishioners, and he
baptized her as a man. She adopted the name ‘Mario’ and returned to
Dumbría. Marcela then introduced Elisa to her family and neighbors as
‘Mario’, Elisa’s cousin, and said they were going to get married.
Indeed, people were amazed at how much this 'Mario’ looked like Elisa;
same height, same voice, same mannerisms and temper.
The wedding was held on the 8th of June, 1901, in the Church of St. Jorge in A Coruña.
After the ceremony, the happy couple was photographed at José Sellier’s
studio. The next day, the newlyweds returned to Dumbría in a horse
Eventually, Marcela and 'Mario’ were outed by their
suspecting neighbors to local authorities. A huge scandal broke out, with both national and international newspapers writing about the ‘disgraceful’ marriage which did not include a man. Both women were fired from their jobs,
excommunicated, and an arrest warrant was issued for both of them. The couple fled to many Spanish cities, until finally boarding a ship to the
Americas, presumably to Argentina.
It should be noted that
Marcela and Elisa’s wedding is still valid to this day, since it was
never annulled by neither The Catholic Church nor the Civil Registry. Therefore,
Marcela and Elisa’s union is the first officially registered same-sex marriage in Spain, 104 years before it became legal for Spanish lesbian couples to marry.
It’s been almost a month since our special day, and I can’t stop thinking about how perfect it was. We were married on the cliffs in Maine, with our two best friends as witnesses on May 27, 2016. The ceremony was beautiful and intimate, and the setting was magical. We couldn’t have hoped for a better wedding.
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Whenever I’m stressed or feeling upset, I love looking through my wedding photos. It was such a happy and wonderful day. It helps me remember that there are more important things than the negativity I’m feeling. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 2 months! It simultaneously feels like it was last week, and years ago.