A Costa Rican judge has granted the first openly gay common-law marriage in Central America, said Francisco Madrigal, political affairs director for the Center for Research and Promotion of Human Rights in Central America (CIPAC).
On Tuesday morning, news broke that Gerald Castro and Cristian Zamora, a gay couple in the city of Goicoechea, north of San José, were granted a common-law marriage by the Family Court there. Along with being the first legal recognition of a same-sex relationship in Central America, the decision could set an example for judges elsewhere in the country to recognize gay relationships and even adoption. But both supporters and opponents of the decision expect a forthcoming legal battle over the landmark ruling.
Common-law marriage grants all the same benefits of a traditional marriage in Costa Rica, but requires the approval of a judge after the couple has been together – but not necessarily lived together – for at least three years. It guarantees partners the rights to inheritance, to social security and public insurance benefits and to visit the other person in the hospital.
Costa Rica does not currently recognize same-sex marriage but a bill is pending in the Legislative Assembly that could legalize same-sex civil unions.