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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 25, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 47
Rightists win Spanish election, marriage equality in jeopardy
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Rightists win Spanish election, marriage equality in jeopardy

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Spain's marriage equality law is in danger of being repealed, after the right-wing Popular Party won a landslide victory in elections on November 20.

The law was passed by the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in 2005.

Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy was an outspoken critic of the law, even filing suit to have it declared unconstitutional.

The outcome of that suit is still pending, but the 20,000 same-sex couples who have been married in Spain since 2005 now may lose their marriage rights.

Zapatero has been prime minister since 2004, but Spain's economic crisis, and the resulting 22% unemployment rate - twice the E.U. average - eroded support for his government.

Even though Zapatero announced his intention to retire, and handed over leadership of the Socialist Party to Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, voters still punished his party for their economic difficulties.

Rajoy's Popular Party swept to a landslide victory, winning 186 seats in the 350-seat parliament, a gain of 17.

Meanwhile, the Socialists lost 58 seats. It was their worst electoral performance ever.

Since coming to power in 2004, Zapatero enacted radical social reforms that previously would have been unthinkable in Spain - legalizing same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, relaxing divorce laws, and liberalizing the abortion law.

Now all those reforms are at risk.

While Rajoy's Popular Party glossed over controversial issues in its 100-point electoral platform, this was widely seen as a deliberate ploy to avoid scaring off centrist voters.

Rajoy is known to be a devout Roman Catholic with close ties to the conservative Spanish Catholic hierarchy. His Socialist opponents have accused him of being far more extreme than he lets on.

'If you said what you have in mind, not even your own supporters would vote for you,' his Socialist opponent, Perez Rubalcaba, teased during a televised election debate.

Gay and Lesbian couples are reportedly hurrying to marry ahead of any possible changes in Spain's marriage laws.

Already married couples are now worried that their marriages may be in jeopardy.

Paco Garcia Flores, 60, a dog groomer from Madrid, married Andres, his partner of 25 years in the tiny town hall of Campillo de Ranas. He told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph that he dreads the change in government.

'It was a wonderful thing to be able to publicly celebrate our commitment and it angers me to think that hard-won right might be taken away, that we might be forced back in the closet,' Flores said.

'The whole election is being fought on the economy but we shouldn't just sacrifice all the good that has been achieved by the Socialists, those things that make me proud to be living in modern Spain.'

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