Spain legalizes same-sex marriage

Friday, July 1, 2005

Spain, a predominantly Catholic country, Thursday became the world's third nation to legalize same-sex marriage following The Netherlands and Belgium. Canada, whose lower house has voted in favor of same-sex marriage, is widely expected to have that bill pass also in the upper house, making Canada the fourth country to legalize the marriage of gay couples.

By a vote of 187-147 with four abstentions, the 350-seat Congress of Deputies approved the measure to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual ones, including the right to adopt children and inherit each others' property. The bill, which became law immediately, says, "Matrimony shall have the same requirements and effects regardless of whether the persons involved are of the same or different sex."

Catholic leaders and the conservative opposition People's Party lobbied heavily against the bill "calling it an assault on the institution of marriage and a threat to social stability." The Roman Catholic Church endorsed a June 18 opposition rally in which about two hundred thousand marched through Madrid, including twenty bishops.

Recent polls suggest Spaniards support gay marriage, saying 62 percent of Spaniards support the government's action on gay marriage while 30 percent oppose it.

According to an Associated Press report, Beatriz Gimeno, a longtime leader of Spain's gay rights movement, held back tears as she hugged her partner Boti after the vote.

"It is a historic day for the world's homosexuals. We have been fighting for many years," Gimeno said. "Now comes the hardest part, which is changing society's mentality."

Gay couples can get married as soon as the law is published in the official government registry as early as Friday or within two weeks at the latest, Parliament's press office said.