July 27, 2011 ( – Colombia’s Constitutional Court has issued a decision declaring that homosexual couples constitute a “family,” but stopping short of giving them a right to “marry” each other.

In a decision issued yesterday evening, the Court decreed that the issue of “matrimony” between two people of the same sex is a matter for the National Congress to decide, and gave legislators two years to take up the issue.

According to the decision, the Congress must legislate “in an integral, systematic, and ordered way regarding the rights of same-sex couples with the purpose of eliminating the lack of protection” that exists for their unions.

The jurists decreed that if the Congress does not pass legislation on the matter within that period,  “the next day, same-sex couples will be able to go to a notary and legalize their union.”

According to the decision, the Congress will be required to pass legislation recognizing the “family” rights of cohabiting homosexuals.

Although the Constitution expressly states that marriage is a union of a man and a woman, the president of the Court denied the relevance of that clause in the Constitution, claiming that it “does not mean that couples of the same sex are excluded from doing the same.”

The nation’s Civil Code, which also defines marriage as “a contract by which a man and a woman unify with the purpose of living together, procreating, and helping one another,” also failed to lead the justices to the conclusion that marriage is restricted to opposite sex couples.

The Court will reportedly proceed next to the possibility of allowing homosexuals to adopt children.