Yet another country legalized civil rights for all of its citizens.
Parliament legalized gay marriage Thursday, defying conservatives and clergy who opposed making traditionally Roman Catholic Spain the third country to allow same-sex unions nationwide. Jubilant gay activists blew kisses to lawmakers after the vote.
The measure passed the 350-seat Congress of Deputies by a vote of 187-147. The bill, part of the ruling Socialists’ aggressive agenda for social reform, also lets gay couples adopt children and inherit each others’ property.
The bill is now law. The Senate, where conservatives hold the largest number of seats, rejected the bill last week. But it is an advisory body and final say on legislation rests with the Congress of Deputies.
Opposition conservatives said they will consider challenging the law before Spain’s highest tribunal, the Constitutional Court.
The Spanish Bishops Conference criticized the new law and urged resistance to it. The group said the bill, along with another passed Wednesday making it easier for Spaniards to divorce, mean that “marriage, understood as the union of a man and a woman, is no longer provided for in our laws.”
“It is necessary to oppose these unfair laws through all legitimate means,” the bishops said, apparently alluding to a previous call for town hall officials who oppose gay marriage to refuse to preside at such ceremonies.
After the final tally was announced, gay and lesbian activists watching from the spectator section of the ornate chamber cried, cheered, hugged, waved to lawmakers and blew them kisses.
Several members of the conservative opposition Popular Party, which was vehemently opposed to the bill, shouted: “This is a disgrace.” Those in favor stood and clapped.
The Netherlands and Belgium are the only other two countries that allow gay marriage nationwide. Canada’s House of Commons passed legislation Tuesday that would legalize gay marriage; its Senate is expected to pass the bill into law by the end of July.
“We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality,” he told the chamber.
I think the bishop who is quoted above — I bolded the line — needs to rexamine what “unfair” means. Isn’t it unfair to refuse to recognize a person’s basic human rights because of their sexual orientation? I think it is.
And in a day and age where the Texas governor says “to hell with non-straight citizens of my state!”, it’s refreshing to see an entire nation say, “Hey, this is your country, too.”
Andrew Sullivan has a related post — and is particularly damming of the Religious Rights’ anti-civil rights agenda,
In a while, many married Canadians or Spanish or Dutch or Brits may want to work or immigrate in the U.S. or have employers or universities over here eager for their skills and ability. But the immigration services won’t recognize their spouses. Are we soon to have a policy of family break-up in immigration policy? Or a de facto policy of refusing to let foreign gay couples immigrate? Or indeed married couples where one is, say, Spanish and one American, and only the American can live in the U.S.? The reputation of this country as a place of non-discrimination, already tarred by formal discrimination against foreigners with HIV, will inevitably suffer.