Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday signed a bill that recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.

Bachelet, who endorsed marriage equality during her campaign, signed the measure during a ceremony at the Chilean capital, the Washington Blade reported.

“The civil unions law is a vindication in the struggle for sexual diversity rights,” Bachelet said.

The bill was first introduced in 2011 by former President Sebastián Piñera, but went nowhere until Bachelet took over. Lawmakers rallied behind civil unions in an attempt to cut off an expected marriage debate. During a CNN Chile appearance, Senator Ivan Moreira (UDI) called civil unions a “lesser evil.”

Bachelet's signing ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Santiago was attended by members of the LGBT rights group Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation and Andres Ignacio Rivera Duarte, a transgender rights activist.

“Today is a historic day for sexual diversity,” Rolando Jimenez, director of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, said in a statement. “The state for the first time recognizes that there is not just one way to make a family. From today the state protects family diversity and takes responsibility for historic injustices based upon prejudices and taboos that never should have existed.”

The bill cleared the National Congress in January and the Chilean Constitutional Court upheld its constitutionality less than two weeks ago.