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January 30, 2009


Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples must be granted the same rights as heterosexuals in common-law marriages.

Columbia's "common-law" marriage has been a legal means of recognizing two people who have lived together as married for two years or more to be considered married whether or not they have gone through a ceremony or registered with the state. And they have the same rights and protections as married couples.

That recognition has always been meant for only a man and woman coupling. Last April, the Colombian LGBT rights group Colombia Diversa, human rights group Dejusticia, and the Group for Public Interest Rights from the University of the Andes filed a lawsuit challenging that discriminatory classification.

The suit was a reaction to the 2007 defeat of the Colombian legislature's attemp to enact civil unions. According to Box Turtle Bulletin, the expected success of that measure was thwarted by intense pressure from the Catholic Church that involved threatening to deny the sacraments to any senator who voted for it. That threat scared off enough formerly supportive senators to defeat it.

Fortunately, for the sake of justice, equality and democracy, the Columbian court's judges had a little more backbone than the senators. Which proves that when the threat of political reprisal is removed or ignored, most lawmakers and justices will do the right thing.

The Church has proven, over and over again, to be the biggest threat to justice and democracy in America and, indeed, the world. The time for religion to get out of politics is long overdue.