Inter-American Court of Human Rights orders 20 countries to recognize same-sex marriage

On Tuesday, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that Costa Rica must recognize marriage equality, and full rights for same-sex couples, in a decision that’s binding on 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The ruling is an enormous victory for LGBT rights advocates worldwide and provides both an impetus and support for those still fighting for marriage equality. It also contains a tidbit particularly relevant to the Supreme Court’s gay rights jurisprudence, one that may interest Justice Kennedy specifically.

In its opinion, the court noted that neither the article of the American Convention on Human Rights protecting private and family life from arbitrary interference nor the article concerning the right to marry defines “family” or establishes limits to the meaning of family, much less limits protections to a single type of family. 

Ninguna de las normas citadas contiene una definición taxativa de qué debe entenderse por “familia”. Sobre el particular, la Corte ha señalado que en la Convención Americana no se encuentra determinado un concepto cerrado de familia, ni mucho menos se protege sólo un modelo en particular de la misma.

To analyze and define the term “family”—in terms of text, context, and purpose, as well as the term’s evolution—also requires the recognition of the importance of family as a social institution that implicates fundamental needs and hopes. Read more via Daily Kos