Dozens of gay and lesbian couples
rushed to marry in Colombia on Thursday, the deadline imposed by the
nation's highest court for Congress to approve marriage rights for
In 2011, the Constitutional Court
ordered Congress to approve a law recognizing gay couples before June
20, 2013. The court said that if a law is not approved by that date,
then “gay couples can go to a notary and with the same solemnity of
a heterosexual marriage enter a union similar to one between a
Some notaries told couples that they
could enter a “solemn union” but not a marriage. Lawmakers had
earlier proposed enacting such unions for gay couples. But whether
solemn unions were equal to marriage was unclear since the
legislation was not approved.
A marriage bill died in the Colombia
Senate in April.
Gay rights activists pledged to return
to court to seek clarification on the issue.
Earlier this week, the president of the
Colombian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Ruben Salazar, called on
judges and notaries to refuse to hold ceremonies uniting gay couples.
Salazar, also the Archbishop of Bogota,
said that judges and notaries cannot be forced to unite gay couples
if it goes against their religious beliefs.