Colombia on Thursday became the fourth Latin American nation to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

With a 6-3 decision, Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that gay couples can obtain a marriage license in a process identical to straight couples and that judges and notaries cannot refuse to marry gay couples.

It was uncertain when the ruling would take effect.

Plaintiffs in the case were six gay couples who wish to marry, the Washington Blade reported.

The same court in 2011 ordered lawmakers to approve legislation that would give gay couples the same benefits as married heterosexual couples. The court said that if a law is not approved by June 20, 2013, 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 heterosexual couple.” After lawmakers failed to act, many public notaries began registering civil unions as marriages; others, however, refused.

Only three other nations in Latin America allow gay couples to marry: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Gay couples can also marry in Mexico City and many Mexican states.