When New Mexico resident, Monica Mares, was 16 years-old she gave birth to her son, Carlos, and gave him up for adoption. Twenty years later they reunited– but in such a way that their upcoming trial by jury could help set legal precedent for years to come. As two adults their case is breaking barriers in more ways than one.
Monica, 36, and Caleb Peterson (his new, adopted name), 19, claim they fell in love with each other as soon as they met. Within weeks they began a sexual relationship. A biological mother and son having sexual relations with each other is one form of incest, which is illegal in all 50 states.
Incest is a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico. Earlier this year, they were arrested, and in April appeared together in court for their arraignment. Because they breached the court’s no-contact order, they were held in custody, and were later released on $5,000 bond. Monica was also prohibited from having contact with her other younger children, the youngest of whom had been calling Caleb “dad.”
If Monica and Caleb are found guilty next month, they face up to 18 months in state prison.
However, because they are consenting adults, they argue, nothing should be illegal about their relationship. Their interview with The Daily Mail offers great insight into their mindset. Monica says of her son Caleb:
“He is the love of my life and I don’t want to lose him. My kids love him, my whole family does. Nothing can come between us not courts, or jail, nothing.
“I have to be with him. When I get out of prison I will move out of Clovis to a state that allows us to be together.”
She added that of their “love at first sight”:
“It felt like I met somebody new in my life and I fell in love with him.
“At first I told him, ‘I’m sorry I don’t know how you are going to react to this. I’m your mom and you’re my son, but I’m falling in love with you.
“And he said: ‘You know what I am too. I was scared to let you know.” He was falling in love with his mom and I was falling in love with my son.
“We talked about it and we took off to the park. I said, ‘Would you ever date your mom?’
“And he said: ‘would you ever date your son?’ And I said, ‘Honest truth yes I would.’”
Monica acknowledges that she could lose her other children and go to state prison. But she doesn’t care. She says:
“It is every bit worth it. If they lock me up for love then they lock me up. There is no way anybody could pull us apart, and I really do love him.
“It hurts he is far away. It hurts really bad. I wish I could see him, talk to him, but I can’t risk it.”
Caleb explains from his perspective:
“I never had anyone cook me meals or give me anything. I never got anything my entire life and she went out of her way to make me happy and after about a week or so I started having feelings for her and I guess I fell in love.
“It went beyond a mother-son relationship I never really viewed her as my mom. In certain aspects I do but mostly I don’t.
“I never thought I was crazy for having these feelings because I didn’t see her as my mom, it was more like going to a club and meeting a random person. It didn’t feel wrong, it felt normal.”
And, Caleb says that he made the first move:
“We were hanging out just talking and I looked at her and she looked at me and I kissed her.
“It was a real kiss it had feelings behind it, there was a spark that ever since then it just stayed.
“Honestly I never thought we would get into trouble for our relationship. We were both consenting adults – when it comes down to it.
“She’s adult I’m adult I can make my own decisions. I never thought it would blow up into something like this.”
Monica believes this wouldn’t have happened had she raised her son herself. Regardless, she acknowledges that most in their community and family do not approve of their relationship.
There have only been a few incest cases in New Mexico over the last few decades. This case is unique because both are consenting adults. Once convicted and sentenced, if they were discovered to reunite after their served time, they could be prosecuted again and face additional prison time.
Since their arrest and arraignment, they’ve chosen to take their love public, even asking for donations to their legal fund.
Monica and Caleb are hoping to raise awareness of what some people refer to as “Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA) relationships.” GSA as a sexual attraction that develops between biological relatives who meet for the first time as adults. They can be siblings or half-siblings, parents and children, or first and second cousins.
Monica and Caleb as well as other GSA people argue they’ve done, and are doing, nothing wrong. They are consenting adults. They aren’t hurting anyone else and they aren’t alone. Other incestuous relationships occur all the time. The government should not prohibit them from being together or loving each other.
Indeed, incestuous relationships are considered part of a “consanguinamorous” community. One incest activist, Cristina Shy, says of their case:
“Our whole community is watching this case and looking for updates. It needs to be brought to the attention of everybody in the country and people need to start thinking differently. It was the same with gay people just a few years ago and now they can get married they are accepted. Well why not consanguinamorous people like us? We are all adults. We are not pedophiles, there’s no domestic issue. We are in love, we want to be together but we are related. That shouldn’t be a deciding factor.”
If love is expressed between consenting adults and doesn’t hurt anyone else, and this rationale is the basis for “gay rights,” why isn’t the same standard applied to all consenting adults, including mothers and sons?
“This whole case is about whether I have the right to love somebody and I sure as hell have the right to love Monica.
“You can’t tell me who to love, who not to love.”
If this kind of love is good enough for same-sex adults, why isn’t it good enough for mothers and sons, like Monica and Caleb, who argue they should be allowed to marry instead of being arrested and sent to prison?