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QUITO, Ecuador,  June 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Supreme Court of Ecuador ruled in favor of what proponents are calling marriage equality, thus allowing same-sex “marriage” in the South American republic.

In a 5-4 vote, the justices of Ecuador moved to join South American nations Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay to allow marriage between persons of the same sex. The court also instructed Ecuador’s legislators to issue legislation establishing same-sex “marriage.” According to Al Jazeera, Efrain Soria, who is the president of Ecuadorian Equality Foundation and one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the decision was “a joy for our entire community and for Ecuador.” He told reporters that he hopes more people of same-sex attraction will be more open about their lifestyle as a result of the ruling.

Currently, there are 27 countries in the world that recognize same-sex “marriage.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling, which came after a private hearing, defies a constitutional provision passed by referendum in 2008 that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The court found that the Constitution violated its own equal rights provisions.

Earlier, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights had provided legal groundwork for the ruling by the Ecuadorian Supreme Court. That court is under the auspices of the Organization of American States, of which both the United States and Canada and all of the republics of the Americas are members.

In their dissent, four justices argued that constitutional reform should have been debated in the country’s National Assembly in order for same-sex “marriage” to be recognized. Justices Daniela Salazar, Ramiro Ávila, Alí Lozada, Karla Andrade and Agustín Grijalva voted in favor of “marriage equality,” and Justices Hernán Salgado, Teresa Nuques, Enrique Herrería and Carmen Coral voted in favor of amending the Constitution in order to implement same-sex “marriage.”

In a Thursday press conference, the Catholic bishops of Ecuador voiced their opposition to the court ruling. Bishop Eugenio Arellano, as president of the Ecuadorian Bishops Conference, said the court’s decision “gravely injures the juridical practice and supremacy of the Constitution” in the country.

He pointed out that the court does not have the authority to reform the Constitution, which may only be amended by a popular referendum or a vote by the National Assembly. Bishop Arellano added that at least two justices who voted in favor of same-sex “marriage” should have recused themselves because they had promoted and defended similar proposals in the past. The bishop recalled that the 2008 referendum in defense of traditional marriage passed with 63 percent of the vote.

Arellano told reporters that there is no question of any alteration of the Catholic Church’s position on marriage. However, he said that the bishops are concerned about “family stability, the stability that children need to grow and to know their father and mother. That’s what worries us.” He said the rights of children are forgotten in discussions about same-sex “marriage,” sexuality and abortion. The insistence on same-sex “marriage,” he said, leads to the trivialization of the family and married couples.

The Supreme Court’s decision was greeted joyously by LGBTQ activists in Guayaquil and Quito, who took to the public square in the two cities.