LGBTQ Ecuadoreans have more cause to celebrate this June's worldwide Gay Pride Month celebrations, with the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court issuing its anticipated ruling Wednesday that opens the door to civil marriage equality by resolving two cases petitioned by the Provincial Court of Pichincha regarding two couples: Xavier Benalcázar-Efraín Soria and Rubén Salazar-Carlos Verdesoto.
Ecuador: LGBT Community Rejoices Court Recognizing Gay Couple as Family
Judges on the court who voted in favor were Daniela Salazar, Ramiro Avila, Ali Lozada, Karla Andrade and Agustin Grijalva with judges Hernan Salgado, Teresa Nuques, Enrique Herrera and Carmen Coral of the opinion that a constitutional amendment required to allow for the implementation of equal marriage in Ecuador.
Last week, the Constitutional Court had also voted on the marriage equality case but deliberations ended in a 4-4 hung court in which pro-marriage judges Andrade, Avila, Grijalva, and Salazar were balanced against the constitutional reformists, judges Salgado, Herrería, Nuquez and Corral. Judge Ali Lozada did not vote the previous week.
LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex) organizations in Ecuador say there are 10 open cases on equal civil marriage in the country's largest cities of Guayaquil, Quito, and Cuenca.
"We salute the Constitutional Court for this iconic step in our country, now not only an example for the Andean countries but for the entire Latin American region. We are moving forward in a constitutional way, but we want more ... LGBT populations are making history!!!" said a statement by the Ecuadorean Federation of LGBTI Organizations shortly after the news of the court's decision.
There are still challenges ahead, however, since responsibility for enacting the court's interpretation of the law is passed to Ecuador's National Assembly which is beholden to a majority-Catholic constituency.
Once the law is applied, Ecuador would join a growing list of Latin American countries to have approved nationwide marriage equality for LGBTQ couples, which began on July 21, 2010, when Argentina’s landmark equality bill was signed into law by then-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
In the 9 years since, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico City, and 12 Mexican states have granted equal marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Civil unions, which are currently offered by Chile and Ecuador, are a legal recognition hierarchically lower than marriage and which do not grant certain rights, such as the right to visit a sick or dying partner in the hospital as a legitimate family member, or the right to emigrate to a country that recognizes only full marriage partnerships, like, for example, the United States.