On July 24, 2013, the first same-sex wedding ceremony took place in Columbia.
Carlos Hernando Rivera, 57, and Gonzo Ruiz Giraldo, 44, have been together for over 20 years.
They legalized their union before a judge in Bogota, the nation’s capital.
EFE, a Spanish news agency, reports that Rivera was heard saying, “We are civilly married, we have all our civil rights.”
Although this is a huge step for Columbia’s LGBT community, Carmen Lucia Rodriguez, the judge who officiated the ceremony, avoided using the word “marriage” to define the couple’s union.
Back in 2011, the Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to have a family and be treated equally under the law.
In 2007, the high courts allowed same sex couples to share the benefits of marriage such as shared health care, pensions, and inheritance under the rubric of civil unions, not marriage.
Former constitutional Court president, Carlos Gaviria, said, “it is an unnamed contract this is not matrimony.”
He added that it is a civil matrimony – it just cannot legally be called marriage.
The battle for same-sex couples in Columbia is ongoing. While many organizations and people in the Court believe couples should be able to officially marry, which would also grant such couples formal joint adoption, such measures have been traditionally opposed by the Roman Catholic Church and the office of the Public Attorney.
So, even though many people are calling Rivera and Giraldo’s marriage the first in Columbia, it is actually the first official civil union between a same-sex couples.
In Latin America, the only regions that have legalized same-sex marriage are Argentina, Uruguay, and in Mexico City.