Marcela Gracia Ibeas and Elisa Sanchez Loriga at their wedding on June 8, 1901. Their wedding was the first same-sex marriage in the history of the Spanish Catholic church.
On their wedding day, Elisa disguised herself by cutting her hair, wearing a suit, and changing her name to “Mario” on the marriage certificate in Galicia, Spain, 1901. Elisa also created a fake backstory of how Mario was actually her cousin who was an atheist that wanted to be baptized. On their wedding day, Marcela was pregnant with the child of an unknown man. This was most likely pre-planned to help validate their marriage. Unfortunately, they would spend the rest of their lives being persecuted by the law.
Shortly after the marriage, their secret became public knowledge when their neighbors went to the press. Newspapers in Europe ran with the headline, “The Marriage Without a Man.” Elisa and Marcela were quickly excommunicated from the church and became fugitives from the law. The couple managed to escape to Portugal but were apprehended by authorities and scheduled for extradition. However, they were cleared of their “crimes” and quickly took the chance to board a ship to South America where they decided to make a living in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1902.
The story gets a bit murkier, but there is evidence to suggest that Elisa went on to marry a wealthy Danish man by the name of Christian Jensen. Elisa then invited Marcela and her daughter to stay at her new home under the guise that she was her sister. Jensen grew suspicious when Elisa would not consummate the marriage. He took her to trial and attempted to annul the marriage on the grounds that Elisa was not a woman, but actually a man. However, three medical examinations proved that Elisa was indeed a woman and all charges against her were dropped.
The story of Elisa and Marcela ends here as there are no records of what happened to them afterwards. More than a hundred years after their marriage, Spain legalized same-sex marriage in 2005.