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Same-Sex Couple Wins Legal Challenge To Their Marriage In Colombia

Their victory is the latest twist in the country's winding struggle over same-sex marriage.

Posted on October 16, 2013, at 5:53 p.m. ET

Fernando Vergara / AP

Claudia Zea and Elizabeth Castillo

In the latest twist in the legal battle over same-sex marriage in Colombia, a family law judge on Thursday threw out a challenge brought against the marriage of Claudia Zea and Elizabeth Castillo by Fundación Marído y Mujer, an organization formed this summer to fight against same-sex marriage in the country.

Mauricio Albarracín, ae lawyer with the LGBT rights group Colombia Diversa, said the judge in Gachetá, a city outside Bogota, threw out the case after saying that a third party cannot go to court to disrupt a marriage, and that the particular legal mechanism that the Fundación used to challenge the marriage was not appropriate for this kind of action.

This second point was especially important to Castillo, who is a lawyer. The Fundación had presented an acción de tutela—a special kind of lawsuit under Colombian law to get emergency relief when fundamental rights have been violated—to claim that their marriage should be invalidated.

"We are very happy," Castillo said by phone. The judge said that the acción de tutela "is not a way to deny rights, but rather a way to recognize them."

This is the second time a judge has ruled on an acción de tutela challenging the handful of same-sex marriages that have been granted in Colombia under a complicated Constitutional Court ruling that took effect on June 21. Another judge sided with Fundación Marído y Mujer in an October 2 ruling and annulled the marriage granted to a same sex couple on September 20.

All the same-sex marriages that have been publicized since judges began performing them this summer are facing similar challenges, said Albarracín. He expects this ruling to be appealed, along with all the others as they come before family judges.

"At the end, all of the tutelas will go to the Constitutional Court," he said.

J. Lester Feder is a foreign correspondent for BuzzFeed and 2013 Alicia Patterson journalism fellow.