San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Chinchilla signs law advocates believe key to same-sex unions

On Thursday morning, President Laura Chinchilla signed a bill into law that could establish common-law marriages for gay and lesbian couples in Costa Rica, reported the daily La Nación.

Communications Minister Carlos Roverssi confirmed that the law had been signed and sent for publication in La Gaceta, the government newspaper that is the final step in the bill’s journey to becoming a law.

The president made good on her promise to sign the bill into law, despite an outcry from conservative lawmakers who petitioned her to veto it.

Conservative Christian lawmaker Justo Orozco of the Costa Rican Renovation Party announced he intends to file a constitutional complaint against the Young Persons Law, which deals in part with family matters, the online daily reported. Orozco claims the law, which he did not vote for, is “discriminatory” because it creates benefits for a specific group, persons between 18 and 35 years old.

An edit to the law’s Family Code proposed by lawmaker José María Villalta of the Broad Front Party says that common-law marriages should be extended to all regardless of gender, “without discrimination against their human dignity.”

Advocates argue that the statement extends to same-sex couples because the San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is contrary to human dignity, according to

Orozco added that Article 242 of the Family Code, which establishes common-law and ceremonial marriages as between a man and a woman, should be respected.

Common-law marriage in Costa Rica is available to people who have been together for at least three years. It guarantees partners the rights to inheritance, to social security and public insurance benefits and to visit the other person in the hospital.

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