First same-sex civil union legalized in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia — A Colombian judge has for the first time legalized the civil union of a same-sex couple.

One of the pair, Gonzalo Ruiz, told The Associated Press just after Wednesday’s ceremony that he considers himself “civilly married” to his partner, Carlos Hernando Rivera.

About 100 people attended and threw rice at the couple, who have been together for two decades.

Fernando Vergara, APNewlyweds Carlos Hernando, left, and Gonzalo Ruiz leave a local court in Bogota, Colombia, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. The couple was joined in a civil union Wednesday by a judge in Colombia. Photo:
Fernando Vergara, AP
Activists sing as they wait outside a local court where Carlos Hernando and Gonzalo Ruiz were the first same-sex couple in Colombia to be joined in a civil union, in Bogota, Colombia, on Wednesday.

The ceremony follows Congress’ failure in April to pass a law legislating civil unions. The Constitutional Court had ordered it to do so in 2011, ruling that legislators failed then gay couples could join in civil unions before judges.

A previous ruling by the high court has allowed same-sex couples in Colombia to enjoy since 2007 many of the benefits of marriage, including inheritance, pensions and health and death benefits.

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