Monday, October 7, 2013


Colombia's First Same-Sex Marriage Annulled
Bogota, Columbia
By Mark Singer | BOGOTA, Columbia -- A marriage performed last month in the Columbian capital city of Bogota was annulled by a judge after a lawsuit was brought by an anti-gay foundation to cancel the union. Lawyer and director of the Husband and Wife Foundation, Javier Suarez, had filed a constitutional challenge against a September 20 ruling by a Bogota civil court judge that had declared the same-sex couple, Julio Albeiro Cantor Borbon and William Alberto Castro Franco, married. A second couple, Elizabeth Castillo and Claudia Zea, had been declared married by the same judge a week later.
In his ruling Wednesday this past, Judge Eduardo Diaz annulled the Borbon-Franco marriage writing that "there is no constitutional right for gay people to marry."
Suarez, applauded the court’s decision and went on to call for the removal and criminal sanctions against judges who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, who “support illegal acts due to the fact that they see homosexuality as a ‘human right’ when it is really a clinical and psychological problem.”
Local activists reacted to the ruling telling Columbian media;
“The strategy of renouncing magistrates who rule in favor of recognizing and guaranteeing rights, especially of traditionally discriminated against groups, like LGBTI and women, is one of the most used strategies of anti-rights groups,” said Ariadna Tovar from Women's Link Worlwide.
A national lawmaker, Senator Armando Benetti,rejected the court’s ruling, saying that it violated the homosexual’s couples’ Constitutionally protected right to raise a family.
“This will not be the first or the last court decision against couples of the same sex,” said Benetti. “For this reason I have maintained that the road to secure the fundamental rights for homosexual couples is a revision of all the constitutional orders that have been brought before the Constitutional Court.”
In 2011, the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples had a legal right to a family and ordered Congress to remedy the situation. The court said that if a law is not approved by June 20, 2013, then "gay couples can go to a notary and with the same solemnity of a heterosexual marriage enter a union similar to one between a heterosexual couple."
Same-sex couples in Colombia turned to the courts after lawmakers failed to meet a June 20 deadline imposed by the high court. A marriage bill died in the Colombia Senate in April after contentious debate ailed to produce a piece of legislation required to comply with the high court's order.

Abbott Government will challenge same-sex marriage law in Australia's Capital Territory
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
By Desmond Rutherford | CANBERRA, Australia -- The Government of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will seek to have same-sex marriages conducted in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) declared unconstitutional in the High Court of Australia when the ACT Government passes its law according to a spokesperson.
The Government's position was made clear Monday after Attorney-General George Brandis sought advice from the country's Solicitor-General on the constitutionality of same-sex marriages and the legal advice received was that those marriages could be challenged in the courts despite a leading constitutional expert advising otherwise. 
According to University of New South Wales law professor George Williams, considered a leading Australian constitutional expert, the legal case to be made that local laws regarding same-sex marriages can be nullified by federal actions based on the assumption of a constitutional read that laws regarding marriage can only be passed at a national level since Australia passed a national Marriage Act in 1961, is incorrect.
"It seems likely the federal Marriage Act does not prevent a state from legalizing same-sex marriage," Williams said in 2010. 
"Amendments to the Act in 2004 made it clear that the law applies exclusively to marriage between a man and a woman. This had the unintended effect of reducing the possibility of a conflict and thereby opening up the field of same-sex marriage to the states. 
The opportunity now exists for a state to re-enter the field by permitting same-sex marriage."
A New South Wales state parliament inquiry into same-sex marriage at a state level earlier this year also concluded that the notion that only the Australian Parliament could pass laws regarding same-sex marriage was false.
The Abbott Government's decision to take the same-sex marriage issue to the court came after a binding vote last month designed to protect the ACT’s right to make its own laws – something that would have prevented Prime Minister Abbott from getting legislation through the national Parliament a bill to strike down the ACT’s same-sex marriage law before July 2014 at which point hundreds of same-sex couples will have been legally married in the ACT. 
Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson Ivan Hinton told reporters that activists for marriage equality in the country are confident of the ACT’s law surviving a court challenge passed.
"Based on the expert constitutional legal advice we have received and that was received by the recent NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into this issue we are confident that a territory and state same sex marriage laws would withstand a High Court challenge," Hinton said. 
Our confidence is shared with the ACT Government who have already declared that they would defend the law vigorously if challenged. It is imperative that George Brandis releases any advice he has received from the Solicitor General to allow for public and expert scrutiny before any action is taken," he added; 
"As a result of progress in Tasmania this week we are expecting further constitutional legal advice to be released that will further reinforce states and territories right to legalize same sex marriage. 
[...] "Regardless of what the Government says or does, we expect loving and committed same-sex couples from around the country to start celebrating their weddings on Australian soil this year in the ACT."
The ACT parliament is expected to pass its bill this month and the state of New South Wales may soon vote on a similar measure.