First Same-Sex Civil Union Legalized in Colombia
Colombia got its first legalized same-sex union Wednesday when a judge sanctioned the partnership of two men who have been a couple for two decades.
The newly legalized couple cheered the ceremony as a marriage, although experts cautioned that a high court ruling that deemed the union legal did not make it the equivalent of marriage.
"We are civilly married," Gonzalo Ruiz, 44, told The Associated Press just after ceremony with his partner, Carlos Hernando Rivera, 57.
The ceremony follows Congress’ failure in April to pass a law setting up a legal framework for civil unions. A 2011 order from the Constitutional Court had ordered legislators to pass a law granting marriage equality to gay couples by June 20, 2013, or else such couple would be allowed to join in civil unions before judges.
A previous ruling by the high court had allowed same-sex couples in Colombia to enjoy since 2007 many of the benefits of marriage, including inheritance, pensions and health and death benefits.
"They entered as bachelors and exited married," Marcela Sanchez, director of Colombia Diversa, an LGBT-rights group, said after about 100 guests celebrated the union by throwing rice at the couple.