A gay couple is suing Venezuela for $10 million in an effort to get their marriage legally recognised in the country.
Carlos Juan Holder Wendell and Patrick Holder Wendell got married in Massachusetts in 2015 but have been engaged in a two-year court battle to have their union acknowledged by Venezuela.
Carlos has run into difficulties while travelling internationally, as his Venezuelan passport does not match the name on his US documents.
In addition, Patrick is unable to travel to Venezuela because he cannot get a spousal visa, meaning he hasn’t been able to meet most of his husband’s family or friends.
“It’s causing a lot of issues. But it’s also the fact that his government in his country is refusing to recognise us as a married couple, which is painful,” Patrick tells GSN.
The couple originally applied to have their marriage recognised at the Venezuelan consulate in Boston, but were turned away for not having the correct paperwork.
When they returned they spoke with Consul Omar Fernando Sierra, who gave them a speech about equal rights in Venezuela. While they say he was unable to say ‘same-sex marriage’ - referring to it as a civil union - he did agree to take their application and formally petition the government.
However, because the couple still hasn’t received a response, despite endless calls and emails, they’ve decided to lodge a lawsuit.
“We know that even if we get a judgment of $10 million, we’ll never be able to collect. It’s more the principle of the thing.
“We’ve been doing this to hopefully get a response out of the government, and they keep stalling. It’s getting difficult,” says Patrick.
If the couple is successful, they would be the first same-sex marriage to be recognised in Venezuela, potentially setting a significant precedent for the LGBT community in the country.