June 17, 2007
Colombia grants same-sex couples most of the rights given hetero married couples
(Bogota) Colombia’s Congress has passed legislation giving same-sex couples most of the same rights as opposite-sex married couples.
President Alvaro Uribe has said he will sign the bill into law.
Under the legislation same-sex couples would have to register as partners. They would have to have lived together for more than two years and be of legal age.
In return they will receive the same social security and inheritance rights as married couples.
Supporters of the bill had tried four times since 1999 to pass the legislation, but each time it failed after opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.
Its success this time is attributed to a February Constitutional Court ruling that gay and lesbian couples must have the same property rights as opposite-sex couples.
The court struck down the definition of cohabitating couples as “men and women” in a 1990 law that allowed unmarried couples property rights including joint ownership of land and rights when one partner died.
The court said the law must be gender neutral.
This illustrates a part of why the fight for same-sex marriage is such a big deal: property and inheritance rights. Even if a same-sex couple draws up wills making it abundantly clear what is to happen to their property should one partner outlive the other, such wills can be (and often are) challenged, while it’s generally assumed that a heterosexual person’s property will go to his or her spouse when he or she dies, even if there isn’t a will. (Yes, that’s an oversimplification, but I’m sure you see what I’m driving at.) I would genuinely like to sit many of our politicians down and ask them how they feel about the fact that Colombia can now be considered more progressive, more cognizant of basic human rights, than the United States.
(h/t to Ed Brayton)