Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Today in 2005, Same-Sex Marriage Becomes Legal In Spain

Gay rights activists kiss outside Spain's parliament in Madrid after same-sex marriage becomes legal.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Spain today, July 3, in 2005. In 2004, the nation's newly elected Socialist Party (PSOE) Government, led by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its legalization, including the right of adoption by same-sex couples. 

After much debate, a law permitting same-sex marriage was passed by the Cortes Generales (Spain's bicameral Parliament, composed of the Senate and the Congress of Deputies) on June 30, 2005, and published on July 2, 2005. The law took effect the next day, making Spain the third country in the world to allow same-sex couples to marry across the entire country, after the Netherlands and Belgium, and 17 days ahead of the right being extended across all of Canada.

The ratification of this law was not devoid of conflict, despite support from 66 percent of the population. Roman Catholic authorities in particular were adamantly opposed, criticizing what they regarded as the weakening of the meaning of marriage. Other associations expressed concern over the possibility of lesbians and gays adopting children. Demonstrations for and against the law drew thousands of people from all parts of Spain. After its approval, the conservative People's Party challenged the law in the Constitutional Court.

Approximately 4,500 same-sex couples married in Spain during the first year of the law. Shortly after the law was passed, questions arose about the legal status of marriage to non-Spaniards whose country did not permit same-sex marriage. A ruling from the Justice Ministry stated that the country's same-sex marriage law allows a Spanish citizen to marry a non-Spaniard regardless of whether that person's homeland recognizes the partnership. At least one partner must be a Spanish citizen in order to marry, although two non-Spaniards may marry if they both have legal residence in Spain.

The November 2011 general election delivered a landslide victory to the People's Party, whose leader Mariano Rajoy said that he opposed same-sex marriage, but any decision about repealing the law could be made only after the ruling of the Constitutional Court. On November 6, 2012, the law was upheld by the Court with 8 support votes and 3 against. Minister of Justice Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón announced that the Government will abide the ruling and the law will not be repealed.

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