Chile’s Constitutional Tribunal will make an official verdict next week in which they will reject as “inapplicable” arguements made in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The case has been going on for a year now, and sought to challenge the decision of a Civil Registry official who refused to grant a marriage license to a same-sex couple. The vote came down 9 to 1. There were four different opinions from the judges, apparently, and some may mean that there can be future litigation.
The case involves three same-sex couples and Chile’s Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, and is part of a push to challenge the constitutionality of Article 102 of the Civil Code. That article defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. On 29 September 2010, Cesar Peralta and Hans Arias tried to get a marriage license at the Civil Registry, but had their application denied. A bi-national couple, Canadian Stephane Abran and Chilean Jorge Monardes also tried, but were denied. Victor Arce and Miguel Lillo also tried to get their own license, but were denied.
The last two couples were married in Canada and Argentina respectively, but their marriages were not recognized in Chile.
The reason for the delay is the fact that Judge Hernan Vodanovic is still composing his dissent. He stands for a broader definition of marriage which would include lesbian and gay couples. The other nine judges rejected the appeal and they have been divided among three different camps.
The strictest reading of the law comes from Judge Marisol Peña and Judge Raúl Bertelsen, president of the tribunal. The judges hold that marriage between two people of the same sex is unconstitutional.
Three other judges within the tribunal, including former tribunal president Judge Marcelo Venegas, took a centrist position, ruling that the official’s decision was in accordance with the law and there is no room for appeal. The judges do not believe same-sex marriage is against the Constitution, however, and left the door open for future appeals.
The last opinion voiced, held by four left-leaning judges, rejected the appeal but called for legislation to be sent to Congress concerning the issue.
Representatives from MOVILH said in a statement that they would hold off official comment until the verdict was released. However, they are not planning on giving up quite so easily.