Compare Plans

June 12, 2024

Love Wins: The Story Behind Argentinian Couple's 30-Year Journey to a Historic Marriage

Norma Castillo and Ramona "Cachita" Arévalo met in 1971 when they were both 28 years old, while exiled in Barranquilla, Colombia, due to coups d'état in their native countries, Argentina and Uruguay. They were both married to Colombian men who were cousins. The initial spark was there, but it went unnoticed by both. It felt impossible at the time.

It wasn't until eight years later when Cachita was already divorced, and Norma was widowed, that they met again at a party. That's when their love story finally began. Norma and Cachita started a life together and opened their own gay bar in Barranquilla. They thought the toughest challenge would be acceptance by their family and friends. Cachita remembers when she broke the news to her son, who told her, "Mom, if you are happy, I'm happy."

Little did they know this was the start of a lifelong fight for their love.

What Is Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)?

After 20 years together, they began considering marriage to formalize their love legally. In the mid-90s, they returned to Argentina, where LGBTQ+ organizations were joining forces in their quest for equality. Their chances of getting married were higher in Argentina, so they joined the '100% Diversidad y Derechos' (100% Diversity and Rights) organization. Their first step was to get a "civil union," the only option available in Argentina for same-sex couples, which allowed them a "legal union" but did not include the full legal benefits of a marriage. But Norma and Cachita weren't giving up and were committed to standing for their belief in equal rights.

In 2000, they applied for a marriage license, but their application was denied. Together with advocacy organizations and a supportive community fighting for equal rights, they met with legislators and political parties, seeking their support. They participated in multiple rallies, hoping their voices would be heard.

With growing support and increased visibility, they applied again for a marriage license in 2010, appealing to protect their constitutional rights. District Judge Elena Liberatori finally approved the appeal, and on April 9th of that year, their marriage was sealed after 30 years of love. But that wasn't the end of the fight. A week later, a national civil judge overruled the appeal and declared the marriage null.

Cachita and Norma then released a statement on behalf of the "100% Diversity and Rights" organization:

"We stand firm because we are backed by a lifetime of love and work, because we feel that our effort is based on the memory and in the name of those who have passed through this world having to endure stigmas, affronts, insults, mockery, disdain, and discrimination. We ask for legal equality with its rights and obligations to fulfill ourselves as whole beings, as what we are: human beings. Equality, more than ever in this case, is synonymous with justice, and that is what we will achieve."

Fortunately, the judge who initially approved their appeal dismissed the annulment of the marriage a week later, supporting the couple and making Norma and Cachita, now 67 years old, the first gay couple to get married in Latin America.

Three months later, on July 15th, 2010, after long years of fighting and commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community, the Chamber of Deputies passed a bill that made history in Latin America. Argentina became the first country in the region, and the 10th country in the world, to allow same-sex marriage and same-sex adoptions nationwide. Cachita and Norma were right outside Congress alongside thousands of people, celebrating the passing of the bill and one of the most significant accomplishments of the LGBTQIA+ community in the country.

Norma and Cachita shared a love that spanned 38 years, a love that was a beacon of hope and inspiration for many. Sadly, on October 26th, 2018, Cachita, at the age of 75, passed away, leaving behind a legacy of love and commitment that will forever be remembered.

At the time, Norma said, "I will never forget her. If I'm still fighting, it's because of her. […] I hope that the new generations follow the path of love over societal norms."

Norma Castillo and Ramona "Cachita" Arévalo's story is a prime example of overcoming established conventions and societal expectations: being women and lesbians and proudly embracing their age.

The journey of Norma and Cachita highlights the critical role that communities and allies play in the support for LGBTQ+ rights. Support from advocacy communities and dedicated allies can make a significant difference in achieving equality. As we celebrate Pride Month, let's remember the power of standing together and the importance of supporting each other in the ongoing quest for equal rights and acceptance for all. Here’s how you can support LGBTQIA+ individuals and create a more inclusive environment:

1. Be a role model for kindness and inclusion. Don’t tolerate hateful speech. Speak up if you hear anti-LGBTQ+ comments or witness incidents of bullying and harassment.

2. Use inclusive language that acknowledges diversity, conveys respect to all people, is sensitive to differences and promotes equal opportunities.

3. Beyond just learning definitions, build relationships. While it’s important to understand the terminology to describe gender and sexual orientations, the higher priority is to build trusting relationships with LGBTQ+ individuals so they feel safe.

4. Be an ally. Allies have powerful, influential voices. To be an ally, act to support equal rights for everyone, call out discrimination, and make the world a better place for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Loading page...
Error: There was a problem processing your request.