July 22, 2013

Colombia’s inspector general, Alejandro Ordóñez, has been waging a crusade to prevent same-sex couples from marrying under a 2011 ruling from the country’s Constitutional Court. On Friday, the court effectively told him to shut up and get out of the way.

The inspector general is one of Colombia’s top legal officials, who oversees how public officials do their jobs. This includes the notaries and judges in lower courts who started receiving petitions to solemnize same-sex unions in June 20, 2013, which is when the 2011 ruling allowed them to do so.

Ordoñez had been threatening disciplinary action against any official who took up this authority. His case was based on the fact that the court’s ruling did not specifically say that couples can “marry,” nor did it directly change the law. Instead, it gave congress until June 20, 2013 to change the law to give equal rights to same-sex couples. The 2011 ruling only gives the power directly to judges and notaries because congress failed to act, and ambiguity in the ruling left it unclear whether they will call these unions “marriages” or something else entirely.