Fernando Fernando Quimbayo and José Manuel Ticora on Tuesday became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Colombia since the South American nation’s high court embraced marriage equality last month.
The couple, who told national Spanish-language newspaper El País they have been together for two years, married in Cali, the capital city of the western state known as Valle de Cauca.
When asked by a reporter for El País about the difference between a “heterosexual marriage” and a “homosexual” one, the newlyweds had pointed answers ready.
“I have not been able to find a difference,” said Quimbayo in Spanish. “Everything is acceptable. Everyone deserves respect. That is the part that many people have yet to understand.”
“We are all universal in that we are united by love,” added Ticora. “Just as a heterosexual person can [seek and find] love, a homosexual couple or one of the same gender can also have the same love.”
In 2011 the Constitutional Court ordered the national congress to create a law establishing marriage equality by June 20, 2013. Lawmakers failed to meet this deadline, which means same-sex couples in Colombia have technically been able to legally solidify their relationships since 2013, though to do so couples were required to seek out a notary or judge to formally solemnize their commitment. Because there was no definitive policy regulating these unions, many same-sex couples were turned away by judges and notaries. Four such couples filed the lawsuit that was decided today, which determines that no judge or notary can legally refuse to marry a same-sex couple.
Colombia becomes only the fourth Latin American nation to fully embrace marriage equality. Same-sex couples have been able to wed in Argentina since 2010, and in Brazil and Uruguay since 2013. Several Mexican states have established marriage equality — beginning with Mexico City in 2010 — and that country’s high court has ruled those marriages must be recognized nationwide.
Watch El Pais’s coverage of the Cali wedding (in Spanish) below.