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Colombia's Senate postpones gay marriage vote

After a three-hour debate, where a majority of Colombian senators appeared to oppose marriage equality, Colombia’s senate postponed the debate to next week
LGBT rights advocates who assembled in Plaza de Bolivar, next to the Senate in the capital Bogota, expressed their disappointment with the result

The Colombian Senate decides to suspend marriage equality vote until Tuesday (23 April) by a vote of 35-30.

Only 65 senators attended the vote out of the Senate's 102 members.

During an intense discussion that started today (17 April) at 5pm local time, the Senate unexpectedly postponed the vote on the equal marriage bill.

The decision was made following a proposal of the Senator Juan Restrepo of the ruling 'U' party, who pointed out that the debate ‘was very important’ for country’s future and that therefore it should be delayed.

35 senators voted in favor of the proposition while 30 opposed, three hours later.

The Colombian Constitutional Court issued a ruling in 2001 that required the lawmakers to act by June 20, 2013, or else same-sex couples would automatically have the right to marry.

The court ruled that gay couples have equal legal rights to be constituted as a family, but due a ‘deficit of legal protection’ must be eliminated by Colombian lawmakers.

The Bill passed its first reading last year.

However, during today’s vote, it appeared that both the ‘U’ and Conservative parties were decidedly against the bill.

If both parties would have voted against it – the no vote would have a majority of 46 Senatorial votes.

In order to pass as law a majority of senators must vote for the bill, which seems an unlikely prospect following today's debate.

Senator Armando Benedetti, author and sponsor of the bill warned that it would be a ‘grave error’ if lawmakers voted against marriage equality next week.

Benedetti also criticized his ‘U’ party members for voting against the bill and said that if voting would be unsuccessful next week there could be a further appeal to the Constitutional Court of Colombia.

During the debate Benedetti gave an impassioned defense of marriage equality.

Martha Lucía Cuellar, LGBT rights advocate, said that as a straight mother to a gay son she rejects any discrimination, because he deserved respect and equality.

While senator John Sudarksy of the Green party urged Colombia to follow Argentina and Uruguay and spoke openly about his family he construed with husband whom he married in New York city.

Conservative senator Roberto Gerlein, who previously compared gay marriage to excrement, said he was a victim of persecution by a ‘homosexual lobby.’

While Luis Carlos Henao, vice president of the right wing Families Forum, warned that homosexuals seek ‘to destroy marriage’ and ‘society’, citing discredited research of the conservative anti-gay US based Family Institute about the 'unhealthy' nature of gay relationships which leads to 'diseases'.

Mario Cely, an 'expert' in anthropology and theology, said that ‘it has been found’ that children raised by same-sex couples suffer from disorders and that ‘homosexual marriage is an unprecedented and dangerous experiment’.

The Senate president Roy Barreras was recently exposed for signing an agreement with an evangelical leader not to allow marriage equality to be voted upon or become law.

While Colombia's president Santos has remained silent on the issue.

LGBT rights advocates who assembled in Plaza de Bolivar, next to the Senate in the capital Bogota, expressed their disappointment with the result.

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