JUNE 8: Marcela and Elisa are secretly married…


Spain celebrated its legalization of same-sex marriage on
June 30, 2005, but unbeknownst to many, the first real same-sex marriage in
Spain took place 104 years beforehand when a woman named Elisa Sanchez Loriga disguised
herself as a man and legally married her lover, Marcela Gracia Ibeas, on June 8,

Marcela and Elisa’s wedding photo shows Marcela (left) in traditional bridal attire and Elisa (right) disguised as a man (x). 

Both Marcela and Elisa were elementary school teachers who
had met at college in A Coruña and their friendship eventually blossomed into a
romance. Marcela’s parents were unhappy with the candidness of the women’s
relationship and sent her to another college outside of A Coruña to finish her
studies; however, Marcela’s parents’ influence only lasted so long and once
Marcela and Elisa both finished college they settled down together in a village called


After living together for some time, Marcela and Elisa decided
that they wanted to get married, and so, they went to work devising a plan. In
order to trick their neighbors, Marcela and Elisa simulated a loud, angry fight
that resulted in Elisa moving back to A Coruña. Their families and community believed that the two had simply broken up and parted ways, but while
in A Coruña, Elisa was busy developing her new “male” identity. She cut her hair,
started wearing suits, took up smoking cigars, and tricked a priest into
baptizing her as a man named “Mario.” With her new identity assumed, Elisa moved back home and was legally married to Marcela on June 8, 1901 in the Church of St. Jorge in A Coruña.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon stage didn’t last long. Marcela
and Elisa’s neighbors became suspicious of this strange new man named “Mario”
whose appearance and voice were both creepily similar to Elisa’s. One of their
neighbors leaked the story of their “marriage without man” to local newspapers
and it broke out into a nationwide scandal. Marcela and Elisa both lost their
jobs, were excommunicated from the Church, and were issued arrest warrants. The
last that is known of the married couple is that they were able to escape local
authorities by boarding a ship that was destined for Argentina and never
returned. To this day, the marriage of Marcela and Elisa has never been
annulled by either the Catholic Church or the Civil Registry and they are still
considered to be the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Spain.