Ecuador court rules in favor of marriage equality & weddings can start at any time

Ecuador Pride

People participate in a Gay Pride parade in Quito, Ecuador, in July of 2011. Shutterstock

A court in Ecuador ruled in favor of marriage equality this week.

Two same-sex couples, whose identities have not been made public, tried to get married at the Civil Registry after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of marriage equality in January. That ruling was binding on twenty Caribbean and Latin American countries, including Ecuador, as all of the countries agreed to abide by that court’s rulings.

The couples, though, were denied marriages. The Civil Registry claimed there was no procedure for them to get married.

With legal help from the Feminist Legal Collective of Cuenca, the couples took their case to court. The lack of a procedure “cannot serve as an excuse to violate a right,” said Catalina Mendoza, the couples’ lawyer.

The court agreed, with judges Cristina Álvarez and Iliana Vallejo ruling in favor of the couples, saying the Civil Registry should “immediately” allow the women to wed.

Ecuadorian legal analyst Sebastián López said that no further legislative action is necessary. “While the best outcome would be a reform to the Civil Code, the Constitution, or a new law, these are not necessary to perform a same-sex marriage.”

Mendoza said that her clients “are brave people. Both the judges and the couples who want to get married are making history.”

Not everyone in Ecuador hailed the ruling. José Arteaga, a conservative Christian activist, said marriage equality would “create space for homosexual couples to adopt” and would end “the family as the nucleus of society.” He said that the ruling was not based on “morals.”

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay and some states in Mexico already legalized marriage equality before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling. Costa Rica initially said that it would abide by the ruling, but it has been denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples and said that it is waiting for a national court ruling or law before proceeding with marriage equality.

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