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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for May, 2016

Congratulations Colombia

Timothy Kincaid

May 1st, 2016

Marriage equality in Colombia has been a long time coming.

Back in 2011 the Constitutional Court ruled that limiting marriage benefits to opposite sex couples was unconstitutional and that if the legislature didn’t change the law within two years to allow recognition, they would do so. But the legislature didn’t act and neither did the court.

In 2013, a judge ruled for marriage equality for one couple. But it was limited to just that couple.

On April 7 the high court ruled on a challenge against equality that marriage for same sex couples did not violated family protections within the Colombian Constitution. And that set the stage for a ruling on Thursday that finally, finally, brought marriage equality to the South American country. (ABC)

“The judges affirmed by a majority that marriage between people of the same sex does not violate constitutional order,” presiding Judge Maria Victoria Calle told the court.

“The current definition of the institution of marriage in civil law applies to them in the same way as it does for couples of the same sex.”

Colombia Judge Orders Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

July 12th, 2013

A judge in Colombia ruled that same-sex couples in that country can marry:

Caracol Radio reported that Carmen Lucía Rodríguez Díaz, a civil judge in Bogotá, the country’s capital, “defended the viability of marriage for gay couples” in a five page ruling she wrote after a couple identified as Diego and Juan petitioned her to legally recognize their relationship. The two men are expected to tie the knot in a civil marriage ceremony on July 24.

…The South American country’s Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled gays and lesbians could legally register their relationships within two years if the country’s lawmakers failed to extend to them the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage.

Despite the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the Colombia Senate rejected a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The Constitutional Court’s two-year deadline passed on June 20.

Colombia debates equality

Timothy Kincaid

April 17th, 2013


After a bumpy start, the Colombia Senate will open its debate on a proposed gay marriage bill on Wednesday, April 17.

It’s uncertain how things will go. But whatever the vote, the Colombian Supreme Court has determined that same-sex couples will have the right to marriage on June 20th. This is the Senate’s chance to establish the means, method, and parameters.

UPDATE: the debate has been postponed until Tuesday, April 23rd.

Marriage update – South America

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2013

It’s getting marriagey all over the place. And it’s also getting hard to keep track of what is going on where. So here is an update to help (which will probably be outdated by the time I hit “publish”).

Central South America:

Argentina – marriage has been equal since 2010.

Bolivia – in 2011 a bill to grant some limited couple recognition was introduced into the Bolivian Chamber of Deputies. It was referred in April 2012 to the Human Rights Commission, where it appears to have fallen asleep.

Brazil – since May 2011, Brazil has had recognizd civil unions for same-sex couples. The states of Alegoas and Bahia allow couples to administratively convert the civil unions to marriage. Since last month, same-sex couples in Sao Paulo may marry without any converted-civil-unions process.

Chile – on March 27, 2012, Daniel Zamudio was tortured and beaten to death. Much in the same way that Matthew Sheppard’s story changed the United States, Zamudio’s has been changing Chile. A long-stalled non-discrimination bill was quickly passed and signed and the populace is now impatient with institutionalize homophobia.

In August 2011, conservative President Pinera sent a civil unions bill to congress and two months ago he reaffirmed that the end of his term, March 2014, is the deadline for its passage. In hearings on the bill in the first weeks of the year, the Catholic Bishop of San Bernardo testified that the bill “brings the destruction of human beings and, although they deny it, destruction to social and family peace among men.” However, public polling shows strong support and the President has named the bill “a top priority”.

The opposition party’s contenders for Presidential nominee debated earlier this month whether same-sex couples should have civil unions or marriage rights. It is likely that civil unions will be achieved this year and that marriage equality will then follow at some point.

Colombia – in July 2011, the Supreme Court found that same sex couples have the same contitutional rights to recognition as heterosexual couples, but they left the structure open to Congress to legislate. Since that time there have been various bills pass one house or the other, but none came to completion. Currently there is a marriage bill in the Senate which has passed the first committee hurdle. Should no bill be enacted by June 20th, same-sex couples will be able to go to judges and become recognized. As there is no alternative legal structure in place, it seems logical that the only legal alternative for judges is to declare them married. But as legislators are disinclined to turn over power to anyone, it’s even more likely that something – civil unions or marriage – will be in place by that date.

Ecuador – while marriage equality is banned by constitution, Ecuador has had civil unions since 2008.

Uruguay – civil unions have been available since 2007. Last month a marriage equality bill passed the House of Deputes with a wide margin last month and is expected to pass the Senate in April.

And while other nations in South America are strongly hostile to same-sex marriage recognition, many of them place strong importance on the rulings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which has been increasingly supportive of gay rights. It may be that this court plays a role in shifting the continent’s laws in the near future.

Colombian Senate committee advances marriage equality bill

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2012

From GayStarNews

A bill legalizing gay marriage past the first of four votes amid criticism from conservative groups.

The bill was was approved on Tuesday (4 November) by 10 votes against five senators of the first committee of the Senate responsible for constitutional matters

Passage is not exactly optional. The country’s Supreme Court has ruled that if Congress does not pass by mid-year 2013, then same-sex couples earn the right to civil marriage automatically (which, if there is no companion law change, would likely to an administrative nightmare).

Couple recognition in Latin America

Timothy Kincaid

August 10th, 2011

As it stands, much of Latin America either has some form of couple recognition or is in the process of doing so.

Marriage – Argentina 2010
Marriage – Mexico 2010 – marriage must occur in Mexico City but recognized throughout
Civil Unions – Uruguay 2007
Civil Unions – Ecuador 2008
Civil Unions – Brazil 2011
Proposed – Colombia 2011 – Court directed the legislature to draft law
Proposed – Chile 2011 – President proposed Life Partnership (Civil Unions) bill

Colombian Supreme Court diverts marriage decision to legislature

Timothy Kincaid

July 27th, 2011


The issue of marriage for same-sex couples is a legislative matter that must be taken up in Colombia’s Congress, the nation’s Constitutional Court ruled in a move that activists saw as a victory, though the outcome remains to be seen.

The court did rule on Tuesday that gay couples in de facto unions constitute a family. Gay-rights supporters celebrated the ruling in the streets.

The court gave the Congress two years to legislate the status of same-sex marriages. If the deadline passes with no legislation, then same-sex couples will be able to formalize their unions before a notary public, the court said.

I’m not certain exactly what was decided Tuesday as the court had granted recognition of common-law marriages in 2009.

Common-Law Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Colombia

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2009

The South American country of Colombia recognizes a legal vehicle called “common-law marriage”. It is a means by which two people who are living as married are considered married even though they may not have gone through a ceremony or registered with the state.

In Colombia, common law marriages are between those who have lived together for two years or more in a permanant union and neither of whom are married either to each other or anyone else. Until yesterday, they also needed to have been between a man and a woman.

But on Wednesday, the courts of Colombia determined that same-sex couples living together could also have all of the rights of common-law marriage.

The court’s ruling means that civil and political rights such as nationality, residency, housing protection and state benefits will now be granted to same-sex partners.

This was an extension of an earlier decision. In February 2007 the Courts granted property and inheritance rights and in April 2008 added pension and health benefits.

In June 2007, the Colombian legislature attempted to enact civil unions but were thwarted by intense pressure from the Catholic Church and by an unusual political ploy.

Ironically, had civil unions been put in place in 2007, the courts may not have decided as they did. Now to the extent that heterosexual common-law couples are said to be married, so too are same-sex couples.

Marriage Rights Around the World

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2008

The following countries offer some form of recognition to same-sex couples:


Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, United States (Massachusetts, California)

Civil Unions

New Zealand, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro), Mexico (Coahuila), Uruguay, United States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey)

Registered Partnership or Domestic Partnership

Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, , Slovenia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Italy (City of Padua), Switzerland, Hungary, Australia (Tasmania), United States (Maine, Washington, Oregon)

Other Methods of Limited Recognition

France (PACS), Germany (Life Partnership), Croatia (Law of Same-Sex Relationships), Andorra (Stable Union of a Couple), Mexico (Mexico City – PACS), Colombia (Common-law marriage inheritance rights), Israel (Limited recognition of foreign legal arrangements), United States (Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits; New York – recognition of out-of-state legal marriages)

Although recognition is in a rapid state of change, this is my best understanding of the current rights provided. Several nations are in the process of adding or revising recognition.

Colombian Couples Get More Rights

Timothy Kincaid

April 18th, 2008 is reporting that Colombia’s Supreme Court has added to the rights same-sex couples can receive.

The court ruled that same-sex partners must be given the same pension and health benefits as opposite-sex married partners receive.

This is in addition to the property rights granted last year.