Today, Colombia's constitutional court issued a ruling recognizing same-sex marriages.
"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."
The groundbreaking ruling comes after years of legal battles occurring in an intensely Catholic state. The case was ushered in after the constitutional court dismissed a petition calling for equal marriage rights between heterosexual and homosexual couples on April 7.
Until today, the recognition of same-sex marriages were largely up to judges and notaries. According to Human Rights Watch:
In a June 2011 decision, it [the court] asked Congress to legalize same-sex unions and said that if it failed to do so within two years, same-sex couples would have the right to ask judges and notaries to "formalize and solemnize" their "contractual relationships." Congress did not pass the necessary legislation, which led to more than two and a half years of legal uncertainty among judges and notaries. Some have performed marriages for same-sex couples while others have not, creating an atmosphere of arbitrary discrimination...
Colombia is now the fourth Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. Argentina was first, paving the way in 2010, followed by Uruguay, Brazil, and Mexico (where same-sex marriage is legal in the country's capital and several states).