Alejandro Rodriguez, Manuel Bermudez and Victor Hugo Prada at their home in Medellín. via The Guardian

When the case for same-sex “marriage” was made on the basis that marital relationships are about “love”, not particular physical acts, many of us asked: If that is the case, what can stop any kind of relationship based on love from being recognised as marital? Why not a “union” of three people or more if they have a committed, loving relationship?

Already there were polygamous communities of Mormon sects, and “polyamorous” collectives of a modern stamp, both claiming to be equivalent in love and commitment (not to mention fertility) to the nuclear family based on marriage. Then we began to hear about homosexual “throuples” having wedding ceremonies.

And now, in what seems to be a world first, three Colombian men have received formal legal recognition of their union. Alejandro Rodriguez, a graduate in physical education; Manuel Bermudez, a journalist and professor at the University of Antioquia; and Victor Hugo Prada, actor and dancer, plan to celebrate their new status soon with a wedding-like ceremony, complete with a female priest.

The Guardian reports:

“We want to make what’s intimate, public,” says Prada, at 23 the youngest of the three. “We have no reason to hide it. We are just helping people realise that there are different types of love and different types of family.”

Local media have declared this development the first “three-way gay marriage”, although legally it is not. Germán Rincon-Perfetti, the lawyer and public notary who did the paperwork for the men, said:

“By Colombian law a marriage is between two people, so we had to come up with a new word: a special patrimonial union.”

According to the document Rincon-Perfetti drew up (under which law is unclear) three men constitute a family and are each others’ legal partners.

“We are not three friends living together. We are a family, a trieja,” says Prada, using the Spanish version of the term “throuple”, which indicates a stable relationship between three individuals. “We were already a family before this. The paperwork just formalised it.”

A larger “family” too. Before they were a throuple they were a fourple. Bermudez and Rodriguez, the first same-sex male couple to receive formal recognition of their partnership (in 2002), have been together for 18 years. During eight of those years they had a three-way relationship that included Alex Esnéider Zabala, and four years ago the three were joined by Prada. The four of them planned a ceremony to celebrate their relationship, but Zabala died of stomach cancer three years ago.

Bermudez told the Guardian that, although they considered themselves a family, “we had to fight hard to be recognised as Alex’s partners when he died,” and that is why they decided to put their relationship on a legal footing.

That, of course, was one of the early arguments for recognising gay and lesbian relationships, and since one thing seems to lead to another in the name of “love”, it will not be surprising if the trieja manage to accomplish another world first and have Colombia recognise their ménage as a marriage. After all, they are already, on paper, a “family”.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet