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Marriage Equality Debate in the Colombian Senate – An Update

April 19, 2013

The Colombian Senate will vote Tuesday April 23 on a proposed law to give same-sex couples equal legal marriage rights (“marriage equality”).

The debate began on April 17, but was adjourned because the Congressional TV channel had to switch to the House of Representatives and Senators favored having the historic discussion on live national TV.

As designated by the bill’s sponsor, Senator Armando Benedetti, I was proud to argue from the well of the Senate that marriage is a human right protected by international human rights guarantees.

[My report (Spanish) to the Senate that marriage equality is a human right]

I was one of four non-Senators invited into the debate (the others were the mother of a gay man and two religious conservative opponents). One of the religious speakers was so disgusting and disrespectful that he was jeered by Senators and stopped by the Senate President. I followed him, and in response to his claim that gay men infect world with disease, I began my address to the 90 Senators present saying, “Relax, I am not here to infect you but to inform you.” It was a great honor and it was humbling to know that my family and friends were listening and supporting me, as were countless Colombia LGBTI people (many of whom sent me tweets and messages – thank you!)

The debate was marked by stereotypes and myths, particularly that same-sex couples should not be allowed to be parents, as expressed by the Senate’s President and the leaders of its biggest parties. The vote would be close but these leaders are requiring the parties to vote against the bill, not with their conscience. I received many expressions of support, and some in continued private dialogue, from many in those parties (the “U” and the Conservative parties).

Same-sex couples in Colombia are needed to come out publicly and support the bill and be heard in the press and in their families and workplaces to demythologize the hate rhetoric. There is a lot of misinformation and little logic in this very religiously dominated and heated discussion.

Multinational companies that backed marriage equality in the US Supreme Court should join us in calling on Colombia and the remaining countries of Latin America that do not yet support marriage equality to allow same-sex couples to take the same vows and enjoy the same rights and duties as opposite-sex couples.

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