Colombia's Constitutional Court on Thursday formally decided that same-sex couples in the Latin American nation have a constitutional right to legally marry.
The 6-3 ruling finalized by the high court Thursday confirms that judges and notaries may not refuse to perform marriages between same-sex couples, reports Spanish-language Colombian newspaper Semana. The ruling formalizes a provisional decision handed down earlier this month that found sexual orientation alone was not a sufficient legal reason to deny Colombian couples the right to wed. Advocates were encouraged by that provisional decision, which also dismissed an appeal by anti-equality forces.
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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 recognize 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 Uruguaysince 2013. SeveralMexicanstates have embraced marriage equality -- beginning with Mexico City in 2010 -- and that country's high court has ruled those marriages must be recognized nationwide.