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Costa Rica becomes the first country in Central America to legalize same-sex marriage

Prominent LGBTQ figures on why they're proud
Why I'm Proud: Prominent LGBTQ figures on identity and coming out 04:36

Two women were married on national television in Costa Rica this week, marking the first legal same-sex marriage in Central America. The ban was lifted on Tuesday, nearly two years after the country's Supreme Court said banning gay marriage is unconstitutional. 

President Carlos Alvarado Quesada said the change gives same-sex couples the same rights as any other family. "Together, under the same flag, we will build a better nation," he tweeted

The president called "empathy" and "love" key factors that will allow Costa Rica to progress as a nation. 

Dunia Araya and Alexandra Quirós were among the joyous couples who celebrated their wedding at midnight, holding an outdoor ceremony in Heredia that was broadcast live. They became the first legally married same-sex couple in the country when a notary wearing a face mask pronounced them "wife and wife," The Associated Press reports. 

Newlyweds Alexandra Quirós, center, and Dunia Araya, right, stand before a lawyer during their wedding in Heredia, Costa Rica, on May 26, 2020.  EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images

In August 2018, Costa Rica's constitutional court ruled that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and discriminatory. It gave parliament 18 months to change the law before marriage equality would automatically take effect. 

A group of lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to delay the ruling for another 18 months, and the ruling took effect at midnight Tuesday. 

Enrique Sanchez, Costa Rica's first openly gay congressman, told Reuters that marriage equality represents the culmination of a years-long battle by activists.

"With their experience, their struggles ... they have helped build a society where there are no second-class families or second-rate people," he said.

Costa Rica is the sixth country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage, following ArgentinaEcuadorBrazilColombia and Uruguay. It is also legal in some parts of Mexico. 

"Today, Costa Rica has made history, bringing marriage equality to Central America for the first time," Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement. "Costa Rica's LGBTQ community has worked tirelessly for years to make today a reality. This victory is theirs, and it inspires the entire global LGBTQ community to continue fighting to move equality forward."

David called on other nations to follow in Costa Rica's footsteps and establish marriage equality.

"Today is a day for celebration, but also a reminder of the work we still must do around the world in our global fight for recognition and inclusion," he said. 

Activist Marco Castillo, left, and his longtime partner Rodrigo Campos, both wearing protective face masks, kiss after they were married before a judge, in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. AP Photo/Carlos Gonzalez
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