Juan Manuel Santos

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos

Colombia’s Constitutional Court paved the way for marriage equality yesterday (Thursday, April 7).

By a 6-3 vote justices on Colombia’s highest court ruled that notaries must certify same-sex civil unions.

Same-sex civil unions were already legal in the South American country, but couples were not allowed to use the term “marriage.”

While the ruling does not legalize same-sex marriage, it is believed to be the final step before marriage equality is legal.

LGBT advocates, including president Juan Manuel Santos, hailed the decision, joining other activists by declaring victory.

According to The New York Times, congresswoman Angelica Lozano said the LGBT community must focus on ending discrimination.

“Today we’ve won our constitutional rights, now we need to fight on the streets and inside people’s homes,” she said.

Half of South American countries recognize some form of same-sex union. Colombia joins Argentina, Brazil, French Guiana and Uruguay in recognizing same-sex marriage. Chile and Ecuador only recognize same-sex partnerships. Only Bolivia and Paraguay have no relationship recognition.