April 23, 2015 at 2:05 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Ecuadorian lawmakers approve civil unions bill

Nicolás Guamanquispe, Diane Rodríguez, Ecuador, same-sex marriage, civil unions, gay marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Nicolás Guamanquispe, left, and Diane Rodríguez last September became the first LGBT couple in Ecuador to legally register their relationship. (Photo courtesy of Diane Rodríguez)

Ecuadorian lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow for the legal recognition of civil unions in the South American country.

Members of the Ecuadorian Assembly by an 89-1 vote margin approved the provision as part of a measure that seeks to amend the country’s civil code.

El Comercio, an Ecuadorian newspaper, reported the measure would allow LGBT couples to receive “the same rights and obligations of a marriage” in terms of pensions, purchasing a home together and other benefits. It would also eliminate the requirement that couples must wait two years before entering into a civil union and demonstrate that they had lived together during this period.

The proposal would also apply to unmarried straight couples.

“It is a major achievement,” Diane Rodríguez, president of Silueta X Association, an Ecuadorian LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade after the vote.

Ecuadorian voters in 2008 approved their country’s new constitution that allows same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, but gays and lesbians remain unable to adopt children.

Rodríguez, who is a transgender woman, and her partner, Nicolás Guamanquispe, last September became the first LGBT couple in Ecuador to register their civil union. The ceremony took place in the city of Guayaquil a few weeks after President Rafael Correa ordered authorities to allow gays and lesbians to formalize their partnerships for identification purposes.

Correa has 30 days to sign or veto the measure.

It remains unclear whether the Ecuadorian president will veto the bill, but Rodríguez remains optimistic that he won’t.

“It works just like a marriage,” she told the Blade. “By my critique this is the best that we have obtained in Ecuador until now.”

Ecuador is among the growing list of Latin American countries that have extended legal recognition to same-sex couples.

Gays and lesbians are able to marry in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico City and a handful of other Mexican states.

A handful of same-sex couples in Colombia have exchanged vows since a ruling from the country’s highest court took effect in 2013.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on April 13 signed her country’s civil unions bill into law. Lawmakers in neighboring Peru last month rejected a similar measure that gay Congressman Carlos Bruce introduced.

Lawmakers in El Salvador last week approved a series of proposed constitutional reforms that would ban same-sex couples from marrying and adopting children. A similar prohibition took effect in Nicaragua earlier this month.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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