Same-sex marriage in Spain

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Same-sex marriage
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In 2004, the new Socialist government of Spain began a process to legalise same-sex marriage in Spain. The proposed legislation would also legalise adoption by same-sex couples. It is expected to become law some time in 2005.

Progress

On June 30, 2004, Spanish minister of justice Juan Fernando López Aguilar announced that the Spanish Congress of Deputies had provisionally approved a government plan for legislation to extend the right to marriage to same-sex couples.

At the same time, Minister López announced a proposition (introduced by the Convergència i Unió party) to introduce legal status for both opposite- and same-sex common-law unions (parejas de hecho, "de facto unions"), and another to permit transgendered people to legally change their name and sex designation without the requirement of surgery.

The bill on same-sex marriage was approved by the Cabinet on October 1, 2004. It was submitted to Parliament on December 31[1] (http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/10/01/spain.gays/) [2] (http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2004/12/31/spain-samesex041231.html), passed by the lower house on April 21, 2005 [3] (http://www.365gay.com/newscon05/04/042105spain.htm) [4] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4469653.stm), and is expected to easily pass the Senate, possibly by the summer.

This would fulfil a promise made by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero the day of his inauguration.

Reaction

The news is the fruit of long activism by Spanish gay and lesbian groups such as the State Federation of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals (FELGT). A poll by Spain's Centre for Sociological Investigations published in July suggests that 66% of Spaniards are in favour of the measure. (Le Monde) (http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3214,36-381286,0.html)

However, the news was met with concern by Catholic authorities, including Pope John Paul II, who feared a weakening of family values, and his successor Pope Benedict XVI. At one point, Prime Minister Zapatero responded by saying:

These are decisions for freedom, to allow free people to choose freely. They are not meant to attack any moral position, since they belong to the civil realm, determined by the legitimate will of the majority of the citizens. ... Spain is a democracy whose sovereignty resides in the Parliament, which passes laws on social life. I deeply respect all citizens' religious convictions, and it's true that there are many Catholics in Spain. However, while respecting the best spirit of the Church's doctrine, we must make the difference between civil space and the intimate space of personal conviction. The worst occurs when the two are confused. (ABC.es (http://www.abc.es/abc/pg041001/prensa/noticias/Nacional/Politica/200410/01/NAC-NAC-028.asp))

Opponents to these measures often argue that the very term matrimonio (marriage) implies a couple of different sexes. Many also express their concerns of the posibility of gay couples adopting and bringing up children, and argue that adoption is not a right for the parents, but for the adopted. Gay associations reply that adoption by homosexual couples has been existing de facto for a long time in Spain, since many gay couples are bringing up minors adopted by one of the members. Adoption by same-sex couples is legal in Navarre, Aragon, the Basque Country, and Catalonia.

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