Spain Legalizes Gay Marriage, California Court Upholds Domestic Partner Benefits Law

Spain’s Parliament approved a bill this week legalizing same-sex marriage. The bill not only guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry but also includes the right to adopt children and protections for property inheritance. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who has led efforts to reform the Spanish legal code since taking office in 2004, said in an address to Members of Parliament that the bill is a result of “two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality,” reports the BBC. Zapatero went on to say that “We are expanding opportunities for the happiness of our neighbors, our work colleagues, our friends, our relatives.”

Lesbian and gay activists in Spain won the day despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church. In an upset to the Vatican, the bill passed Spain’s Congress of Deputies by a vote of 187 to 147. While 90 percent of Spaniards identify as Catholic, less than one-fifth consider themselves practicing Catholics, reports Reuters. A recent survey found that 62 percent of the Spanish public supported the government’s move to legalize same-sex marriage, according to the Associated Press.

The passage of this bill came just a day after the Canadian House of Commons passed a similar law guaranteeing equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. Canada’s bill will need to be approved by the Senate to go into effect; however, Senate approval is expected by the end of July. Spain is now the third country worldwide to grant lesbian and gay couples the right to marry, joining Belgium and the Netherlands, with Canada likely to be the fourth.

In a victory for same-sex couples in California this week, the state Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge from conservative religious groups to its new domestic partner benefits law. Signed into law by former Governor Gray Davis (D), the California measure grants a comprehensive set of domestic partnership rights to same-sex and heterosexual couples who register with the state as domestic partners. Under the law, domestic partners’ rights mirror those of married couples with the exception of the right to file a joint tax return, reports the Associated Press. The California law, upheld Wednesday by the state Supreme Court, comes close to matching the full marriage rights granted to same-sex couples in Massachusetts and through civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut.


The Associated Press 6/29/05 6/30/05; San Francisco Chronicle 6/30/05; Reuters 6/30/05; BBC News 6/30/05.

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