Review: In ‘No Dress Code Required,’ a Gay Couple’s Mexicali Blues

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Victor Manuel Aguirre Espinoza, left, and Victor Fernando Urias Amparo in the documentary “No Dress Code Required.” Credit Outsider Pictures

A county clerk in Kentucky made headlines in the United States in 2015 when she defied a landmark Supreme Court ruling and refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But that was old news in Mexico, where months earlier a similar showdown had played out.

After almost two years, two gay men were finally issued the marriage license they were legally entitled to in Mexicali, the capital of the northern Mexico state of Baja California. “No Dress Code Required” documents the obstacles that couple, Victor Manuel Aguirre Espinoza and Victor Fernando Urias Amparo, who goes by Fernando, confronted to reach their goal — and the public support that saw to it they would.

As early as 2010, Mexico’s highest court upheld same-sex marriages, yet local compliance varied widely. Citing religious grounds, the Mexicali mayor and Baja California governor made no secret of their opposition. In the film, Victor and Fernando are repeatedly rebuffed; municipal officials challenge their birth certificates, and investigate a claim they are mentally ill. Three wedding dates are scheduled, then postponed. At one, authorities say a bomb threat is closing City Hall.

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Trailer: ‘No Dress Code Required’

A preview of the film.

By OUTSIDER PICTURES on Publish Date November 1, 2017. Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive. Watch in Times Video »

Publicly, the men remain amused; privately, they grow increasingly politicized. Asked if he knew what he was getting into, Victor says, “I didn’t understand. I had to change my attitude so people would respect me.” As they become a media cause célèbre, though, the bureaucrats eventually relent.

Cristina Herrera Borquez’s film limits its point of view to Victor and Fernando’s, and doesn’t delve into the opposition or examine the backstage maneuverings. When, as a public demonstration grows, the men are suddenly asked into the mayor’s office, no cameras follow. But they get their license, and “No Dress Code Required” chronicles the grudging advance of cultural change.

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