Spanish court OKs marriage equality
 

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posted Friday, November 9, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 45

Spanish court OKs marriage equality
Seven-year-old law clears final legal hurdle

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Spain's Constitutional Court upheld the country's marriage equality law in a ruling announced November 6.

Eight of the court's 11 judges voted in favor of the law. The court said in a statement that a full ruling will be published within a week.

'We're very, very pleased and particularly that the decision was 8-to-3 and not a close 6-to-5,' Jesus Generelo, general secretary of the Spanish Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals, and Bisexuals (FELGTB), said.

'I think it is clear that Gay marriage is now a part of our society.'

PASSED BY SOCIALISTS
Marriage equality was passed by Spain's newly elected Socialist government in 2005. The right-wing People's Party (PP), now the country's governing party, promptly challenged the law in court.

PP leader Mariano Rajoy, now Spain's prime minister, said he objected only to the use of the word 'marriage' to describe same-sex unions, but not to legal protections for Gay and Lesbian couples, 'which don't matter to us,' Rajoy said.

Although the Socialists lost power in the 2011 election, a majority of the Constitutional Court judges are Socialist appointees. All of those judges voted to uphold the law, and they were joined by one conservative judge.

GOV'T WILL OBEY
PP Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said the government would respect the court's decision and leave the law as it stands.

Some PP mayors - who have jurisdiction over marriage under Spanish law - defied the law by refusing to marry same-sex couples, but others supported it, including Ruiz-Gallardón when he served as mayor of Madrid.

By the end of 2011, more than 21,000 Gay and Lesbian couples had been married in Spain, including some 4,500 in the law's first year of operation. Many political analysts thought the large number of same-sex families made it impossible for the PP government to reverse the law.

CATHOLICS WANT REPEAL
Opposition to the marriage law was led by Spain's powerful Catholic Church and its political allies like Rajoy, but polls have shown a majority of Spaniards support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Conservative Catholic groups were predictably outraged by the court's ruling. The Family Forum, which helped church officials organize protests against same-sex marriage, demanded that Rajoy's government repeal the law.

'If the PP hides behind this sentence to now accept the [Socialists'] law, it will be reneging on the public commitments it made in 2004 and 2005 and failing to defend the ideas of its core supporters in a politically cowardly way,' it said.

Another conservative group, HazteOir.org, said, 'Making marriage the same as other types of union is a direct attack on the Spanish family.'

'This equal status, as well as the promotion of divorce, will cause damage to society in the short-term,' the group's leader, Ignacio Arsuaga, said.



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