Ecuador Just Legalized Same-Gender Marriage!

Ruling in favor of two same-gender couples, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court in its capital city, Quito, instructed lawmakers to immediately legalize same-gender marriage.

The nine judge panel ruled five to four that the country’s constitutional ban on same-gender marriage is unlawful. The four dissenting judges focused on the belief that the National Assembly had to be the ones to change the law, not the courts. However, legal experts have said the Court’s ruling is “binding and mandatory”, meaning that even without National Assembly action officials dealing with marriage licenses should begin allowing same-gender marriages at once.

The ruling hinges in part on the fact that Ecuador was one of the first nations to ban sexual orientation discrimination when it enshrined protections in 1998. Ecuador has also created a raft of other protections and rights-recognition, including civil unions, which confer some – but not all — of the rights of marriage and inheritance.

The cases argued that the marriage ban was unlawful because the Constitution clearly recognizes the rights of LGBT people. Defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman runs contrary to those rights. Under the Constitution ratified in 2008, this inability to access marriage rights also prevented same-gender couples from jointly adopting, again counter to the stated ideals of Ecuador’s nondiscrimination laws.

The case was also helped by a 2018 of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. That ruling found same-gender marriage is a human right protected by the American Convention on Human Rights, something that was prompted by a case in Mexico but set a precedent for the whole of the Americas.

Lawyer Christian Paula told CBS News, “It means that Ecuador is more egalitarian. It is more just than yesterday, that it recognizes that human rights must be for all people without discrimination.”

LGBT rights groups are celebrating in Ecuador, though some legal analysts are a little more cautious. Ideally, the National Assembly will codify changes to the constitution, and it is hoped they will move to make this change swiftly. That’s because while the justices here say there ruling is effective immediately — that same-gender marriage is hereby legal across Ecuador — we know from experience in other nations that leaving anti-LGBT bans on the books can cause messy legal situations and leave LGBT people vulnerable to discrimination.

In addition, it would be best practice for the National Assembly to oversee how to restructure the adoption system to provide equal rights to same-gender prospective parents.

Whether the National Assembly will act is another matter — so there may still be some difficulties ahead. However, this ruling is a cause for celebration and one it isn’t just important for Ecuador.

Ecuador is a nation that prides itself on its heritage, which mixes indigenous beliefs with colonial influences. The country’s religions primarily center around Christianity, with Roman Catholicism being a dominant force in the culture. However, despite strong opposition from conservative religious figures, the progress toward LGBT rights in Ecuador has been one of forward trajectory. This victory suggests that LGBT people in other countries may be able to build cases to overturn their countries’ ban on same-gender marriage, even in nations where religious influence is strong.

In the meantime, congratulations to same-gender couples in Ecuador!

Photo credit: Getty Images.

63 comments

Christine V
Christine V4 hours ago

Yay!

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Alea C
Alea C4 hours ago

Back again for butterfly points.

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Alea C
Alea C4 hours ago

Back again for butterfly points.

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Diane E
Diane E5 hours ago

The world needs to follow the lead. Prejudice should be consigned to the wastebin.

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Christine V
Christine V21 hours ago

Finally!

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Alea C
Alea Cyesterday

About time.

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Alea C
Alea Cyesterday

tyfs

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Donna T
Donna Tyesterday

thank you

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Katherine May W

Thank you, Ecuador! A step forward!

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Christine V
Christine V3 days ago

Love is love!

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