With a 10-5 vote, the First Committee has approved Senator Armando Benedetti's proposed measure. Benedetti's proposal originally sought to create civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. He has since altered the language to marriage. However, Benedetti's bill would not give married gay couples the right to adopt children. Tuesday's vote is the first of four needed for the measure to become law.
"In this country homosexuals already have economic rights and social security, therefore it is time to move toward matrimony," Benedetti is quoted as saying by El Espectador.
Not surprisingly, the measure has its critics, notes Colombia Reports.
El Espectador reported that Marco Fidel Suarez aggressively attacked the proposed bill, claiming it contradicts Article 42 of the constitution which states marriage is between a man and a woman.
"Marriage and family is a man and a woman. As established in Article 42 of the constitution, the family is the nucleus of society, and that consists of a man and a woman," said Suarez. The congressman also targeted the constitutional court, claiming it is "composed of men who are obviously fallible and not of the heavenly court."
Colombia's Constitutional Court has ruled that the Congress must recognize same-sex unions before July 2013 or they would do so. The high court has already granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to health insurance plan. A ruling on adoption by gay couples is pending.
The becomes only the latest news from a continent that is rapidly embracing LGBT rights. In March, the mayor of the Colombian capital of Bogotá appointed a transgender woman to head the city's social welfare agency. Ecuador's new health minister is openly lesbian. Argentina's Senate unanimously approved a landmark gender identity bill in May that mandated access to sex reassignment surgery for transgender persons. Chile approved anti-discrimination legislation that protected sexual orientation only one month earlier.
Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide in July 2010. Marriage equality has been the law in Mexico City since December 2009. Those same sex marriages are recognized in all of Mexico's 31 states. Brazil's Supreme Court unanimously approved civil unions for same-sex couples in May 2011. A marriage equality and adoption bill was introduced last month in Uruguay, too.