Costa Rican, U.S. visitor make history with marriage

Two of the first beneficiaries of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriages were a Costa Rican man and a frequent visitor from San Francisco. They are Juan Carlos Hernández and Jay Redden.

They were married July 1 in Redden’s hometown of Sacramento California. That was a day after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved a stay on gay marriages in the state imposed while the Supreme Court case was decided.

The high court June 26, in a five-to-four decision, ruled that defenders of the California’s gay marriage ban known as Proposition 8 did not have the legal standing to bring a challenge to a lower court ruling that struck the law down. The court also struck down a federal law passed in 1996 known as the Defense of Marriage Act that barred same-sex couples from receiving federal tax, health and pension benefits.

The marriage in California was historic enough that the pair were featured in an Associated Press news story.

In an email, Redden said that “being able to marry was particularly important to us because I can now petition immigration on behalf of my spouse for residency.  So, what this means to us is that Juan Carlos could receive a work permit and be able to work here.  That’s an important economic benefit to us.  I will also be able to claim him as a dependent on my taxes, potentially saving me thousands of dollars in taxes yearly.” 

Redden is a social worker for Sacramento County Child Protective Services. He also has business interests here. He said he first visited Costa Rica in 1992. More recently he had been visiting at least twice a year. 

He met Juan Carlos on one of these trips in 2006, he said. 

Hernández went to California in 2006 and then overstayed a tourism visit. Consequently he has been afraid to return to Costa Rica.

Said Redden:

“Juan Carlos has not left the U.S. to visit Costa Rica as there was no guarantee he would ever be able to legally enter the U.S. again.  He had two grandparents die since he has been in the U.S., and he was not able to see his grandparents before they died or attend their funerals.  He really looks forward to being able to travel back and forth between Costa Rica to visit his family.  

“Juan Carlos would now be able to receive a Social Security card and get a California driver’s license.  So, all the benefits of immigration flow from my ability to petition immigration for him as my spouse.  This is only possible through marriage, not through domestic partnership.”

The Associated Press said that there were same-sex marriage opponents outside the Sacramento County Clerk’s Office when the pair arrived for the marriage.

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