In a split five to four decision, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court legalized same-sex marriage following a brief debate Wednesday afternoon. The court had failed to reach a decision on the issue on June 4.
The ruling accepted the recommendation of a lower court in adopting a ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in case a brought by Javier Benalcázar and Efraín Soria after they were refused a marriage license by a Quito civil registry office. The prevailing judges dismissed a request by a Catholic church-led effort to submit the issue to a popular referendum.
LGBTI rights supporters celebrated outside the court following announcement of the decision. “This is a great day for LGBTI rights and a great day for human rights,” Soria said following the decision. “I regret that the ruling came by such a narrow margin but I am glad it was made in our favor. The Catholic church continues to have excessive influence over public officials but, at least in this case, they lost.”
Some LGBTI leaders were more guarded in their optimism. “We are pleased with the decision but must wait to see the final text before we can be assured of complete victory,” said Wilmer Gonzáles, representative of Silhouette Cuenca, a gay rights organization.
Ecuador’s Federation of LGBT Coalitions issued a statement following the ruling, saying there is more work to be done in reaching full gender equity. “We salute the Constitutional Court for this iconic step, not only in reference for Ecuador and other Andean countries, but for the entire Latin American region. Now, we must move forward to legalize homoparental adoption and other pending matters.”