Costa Rica Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Ending Years-Long Dispute Over Marriage Law

(Credit: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Costa Rica legalized same-sex marriage Tuesday after a landmark court ruling went into effect, marking the end of a two-year dispute over the country’s marriage laws. Costa Rica is the sixth country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage and the first in Central America.

Same-sex marriage became a central issue in Costa Rica’s 2018 presidential campaign after the Inter-American Court of Human Rights wrote that the country had an international obligation to overturn its ban on same-sex marriage, according to the Associated Press.

President Carlos Alvarado, a member of the progressive Citizens’ Action Party, supported lifting the ban. His opponent Fabricio Alvarado, a member of the Christian and conservative National Restoration Party, opposed it.

Costa Rican President-elect Carlos Alvarado speaks during his inauguration ceremony in San Jose, on May 08, 2018. - Costa Rica sworn in its new president on Tuesday, at the head of a multi-party government facing challenges from climbing crime, looming migration, and an growing deficit. (Photo by Ezequiel BECERRA / AFP) (Photo credit should read EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP via Getty Images)

Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado (Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images)

Costa Rica’s supreme court ruled in August 2018 that the ban was unconstitutional and gave the country’s legislature 18 months to pass a new marriage law, or the standing ban on same-sex marriage would be automatically nullified.

The ruling sparked a fierce national debate as various Christian and conservative groups denounced the decision while progressive and activist groups praised the court’s ruling. (RELATED: Church Apologizes For Saying Sex Is For Married Heterosexual Couples)

Just two weeks before the ban was set to expire, the Legislative Assembly met May 12 to discuss the future of the country’s marriage laws. A simple majority vote of 38 lawmakers was needed to bring the issue to the top of the agenda, but more than 20 conservative lawmakers blocked the vote and attempted to introduce a motion to delay the supreme court ruling for another 18 months.

The legislative roadblock ultimately turned violent as two lawmakers physically attacked each other, and in the end no decision was reached. As a result, the 18-month-old supreme court ruling went into effect Tuesday and the ban on same-sex marriage was automatically overturned.