First same-sex marriage takes place in Colombia

Two men on Tuesday became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Colombia. Fernando Quimbayo and José Ticora, who have been together for two years, exchanged vows before a registrar in the city of Cali. Colombia’s constitutional court last month ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in the South American country.

Jorge Enrique Vélez, who oversees Colombia’s notaries and registrars, told them last week that they must comply with the ruling.

“We must comply with this decision of the court,” he said. “You must respect the law and I am simply reminding you that there is no conscious objection and the process is the same as it is for a heterosexual marriage.”

The court in 2011 ruled that same-sex couples could register their relationships within two years if Colombian lawmakers did not extend to them the same benefits that heterosexuals receive through marriage.

Legislators subsequently defeated a same-sex marriage bill.

A handful of same-sex couples have entered into so-called “solemn unions” since lawmakers since the court’s deadline passed in 2013. Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado challenged the rulings that allowed them to legally register their relationships as marriages.

Same-sex couples who have entered into “solemn unions” since 2013 are now considered married under Colombian law.

Same-sex marriage gaining traction in Latin America

Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina are among the other South American countries in which same-sex couples can legally marry.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on May 17 — which is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia — that he would submit bills to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples across the country.

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro who directs the country’s National Center for Sexual Education, has spoken publicly in support of nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, and Freedom to Work President Tico Almeida traveled to Cuba earlier this month to take part in events that the National Center for Sexual Education organized around the International Day Against Homophobia. They also met with independent LGBT rights advocates who have launched a campaign in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples on the Communist island.