The president of Ecuador’s Constitutional Court has instructed the National Assembly to begin the implementation of last week’s ruling recognizing gay marriage. He also advised the country’s lower court judges to put human rights above religious doctrine when ruling on cases involving gay rights.
“In our decision allowing all people the right to marriage, including those of the same sex, we are putting the concept of tolerance and recognition of human rights above all else,” Hernán Salgado said in a weekend press conference. “We expect the court’s decision to be upheld throughout the country by all legislative and judicial authorities.”
On Wednesday, five of the nine Constitutional Court judges approved the legalization of gay marriage. The court adopted the language of Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which recognizes marriage between same sex couples.
The ruling was based on a Quito case in which a gay couple, Efraín Soria, and Javier Benalcázar, were denied a marriage certificate by the civil registry office. “In this case, we found that the decision was based on religious beliefs and did not have legal grounding,” Salgado said. “When religion is in conflict with the law, it must be set aside.”
In addition to the case of Soria, and Benalcázar, last week’s ruling also orders the civil registry to recognize 14 other marriages that had been denied as well as future requests.
In his comments, Salgado said that it is possible that the Constitutional Court ruling could be overturned by a popular referendum but cautioned that its wording must protect human rights. If a referendum is proposed, the court is required to authorize it.