“If you don’t agree with gay marriage then don’t get gay married” –my best friend.
People often get confused when I tell them my relationship status and rightly so; it’s not everyday you meet a straight girl in a gay marriage. At least, this is what I tell my American friends since it’s much easier than explaining-
“My boyfriend signed and I paper that legally recognizes our relationship, wherein I have the same rights as he does, the most important being the right to live and work in Spain. And if one of us is ever in the hospital, we get visitation rights. It’s a bit more complicated than that but you get the point.”
How does one get gay married as a straight person? Well, like gay marriage in the U.S., every Spanish community, a state if you will, has its own set of rules and requirements. In Galicia, the community where I live, the process of becoming pareja de hecho is simple. Any cohabiting heterosexual couple, regardless of how long they’ve been together, can do it.
First you go to your consulate and get an affidavit saying you’re single, have no intention of ever entering into another relationship, and most importantly, are alive, a fact I never imagined needed proving but that’s Spain. They love paperwork. Once you get all your papers in order, meaning they have the seal of apostille, you get them notarized, sign your name, and ta-da!, you’re a straight gay-married couple. It’s honestly super anticlimactic.
Although every community views pareja de hecho differently, in Galicia, our union is regarded as a marriage. Hence, when we told his parents his mother gave us his dowry, an impressive amount of sheets and towels that I still have no idea what to do with. Our friends even threw rice and champagne at us when they heard the news, and are still demanding a seafood dinner, customary of most Galician weddings. However, similar to gay marriage in the U.S., our union is only valid where we live. Outside of Galicia, we’re just another couple living in sin.
On the bright side, not being fully married means we wouldn’t have to go through a messy divorce since technically our legal status is still single. In fact, apart from the therapy and a potential second book, if we ever broke up, there would be very little evidence we were ever gay-married. Thanks to separation of estates our individual assets are protected, so there wouldn’t be any need to call this-is-mine-and-this-is-yours-associates. I would have to leave Spain, but leaving the country after a break up has sort of become my thing.
Despite the numerous similarities, the truth is I’m not gay married, because I chose this. I can go to the town hall or church and get full-fledged married any time I want, and all because I have a vagina and the person I love has a penis. Sounds silly when you put it like that because it is. I never chose to be straight and yet I’m able to reap the benefits of something I have no control over. Even though gay marriage is legal in Spain, as a straight couple, we can get married almost anywhere in the world and go anywhere in the world, without worrying whether our commitment will be recognized.
As my friend so eloquently put it, I agree with gay marriage, which is why I got gay married. While I enjoy the ease which saying I’m gay married affords me, one day I hope to not have this luxury, because that’ll mean all couples will have the same rights and consideration in the U.S. and world over.
Disclaimer: The things I say in this post are based on my first hand experience in dealing with my particular situation. I do not pretend to know the ins and outs of the Spanish legal system. Everything I say is hearsay not fact. If you are interested in legalizing your relationship in Spain consult a lawyer not my blog and especially not Wikipedia.
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