By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com September 30 2013 4:22 PM ET
Two same-sex couples have become the first to be legally married in Colombia, reports LGBT Latino blog Blabbeando.
Colombian attorney and LGBT advocate Germán Humerto Rincón Perfetti announced Wednesday that a civil court judge had declared Julio Alberto Cantor Borbón and William Alberto Castro Franco "united in civil matrimony" following a September 20 ceremony, according to Blabbeando.
On Monday, the nation's leading newspaper published a front-page article announcing the legal marriage of Elizabeth Castillo and Claudia Zea, who were also granted a marriage license by a different civil court judge Wednesday.
"I join you in a legitimate civil matrimony with all of the prerogatives and rights that civil law grants you and the same obligations imposed by civil law," said the judge before he pronounced the couple married, according to Blabbeando's translation of the Spanish-language article from El Espectador. The newspaper's headline read "Marriage Equality Is a Right" and featured a picture of the newlywed couple beaming.
Colombia has been on a long journey to embracing marriage equality, but last week's rulings seem to clear the way for same-sex couples throughout the nation to begin receiving marriage licenses.
In 2011, Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples could legally register their relationships beginninh June 20, 2013, if the nation's lawmakers failed to extend them the same benefits to them guaranteed to heterosexual married couples. When Congress failed to present any kind of marriage equality legislation, same-sex couples in Colombia began filing June 21 to register their relationships. But at that time, it was still unclear whether those relationships would be recognized as marriages or some other form of union.
Marriage equality advocates with the LGBT group Colombia Diversa reported that dozens of same-sex couples had attempted to register their relationships with local clerks since the June 20 deadline passed but were issued a document declaring their "solemn union," according to Blabbeando. Colombia Diversa argued that there is no legal structure to recognize a "solemn union" in Colombia's family code, and since Congress failed to meet the deadline set by the Constitutional Court, same-sex couples should automatically be allowed to marry, as it's the only way to guarantee them the same rights and privileges afforded to opposite-sex couples.
Blabbeando notes that the Colombian inspector general has been a vocal opponent of marriage equality, fighting the court ruling so vigorously that the Constitutional Court itself scolded his staff twice and told Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez that his office had no legal right to interfere in these cases.
Colombia joins a handful of other Latin American nations that embrace marriage equality, including Argentina, Uruguay, and many regions in Brazil. Some states in Mexico, including the nation's capital, Mexico City, also perform same-sex marriages, and the nation's highest court ruled in 2010 that same-sex marriages performed in marriage equality jurisdictions must be recognized and honored throughout Mexico. Last year, the Mexican Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in the southern state of Oaxaca, effectively changing that state's civil code to say that marriage takes place "between two people" rather than "between a man and a woman."