Gay Marriage Moves Forward in Spain: The Proposed Law Is Another Step Forward in the Global Progress of Human Rights for Gay and Lesbian People

By Colbert, Chuck | National Catholic Reporter, June 17, 2005 | Go to article overview

Gay Marriage Moves Forward in Spain: The Proposed Law Is Another Step Forward in the Global Progress of Human Rights for Gay and Lesbian People


Colbert, Chuck, National Catholic Reporter


At noon each day, a cannon shot resounds in the Eternal City. It is a reminder to Romans and all Italians of their victory over the papacy and the birth of the Italian Republic more than 150 years ago. Prego.

Closer to our own times, another secular victory approaches in a country no less Catholic than Spain. In late April the lower house of the Spanish parliament gave its preliminary approval--183 to 136, with six abstentions--to a bill that would make Spain the third country in Europe to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry and adopt children. Bravo.

The proposed language of the new civil law would include the phrase: "Matrimony shall have the same requisites and effects regardless of Whether the persons involved are of the same or different genders."

A reformulation of marriage doesn't come much simpler or clearer. It is another step forward in the global progress of human rights for gay and lesbian people. Spain has come a long way. During the Spanish Inquisition, for instance, while Jews were expelled, "sodomites" were burned at the stake as autos da fe, or "acts of faith." Only 30 years ago, a fascist dictator ruled Spain. This Spanish turnabout to liberty, represented by the eventuality of gay marriage, is truly remarkable.

When the Spanish Senate votes to approve the measure, Spain will join the list of two other European countries, Catholic Belgium and the Netherlands, which have already legalized marriage equality.

Undoubtedly the impeding reality of Spanish gay marriage is a big defeat for Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The legislation is a direct shot at Rome. Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said as much. He wants to create a secular state and level the playing field by removing what he says are the church's undeniable advantages.

Chalk up this victory in Spain to what Benedict terms the "dictatorship of relativism"--liberation theology as well as the pluralistic secular impulses that run through the bloodstream of most modern democratic states. That is the liberty and freedom most notably absent in the Vatican City state. …

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