Spanish couple in the first legal same-sex marriage

Ross von Metzke | July 13, 2005

Menendez, left, places a ring on the finger of Baturin German during their wedding Monday
MADRID, Spain — Eight days after Spain�s parliament signed into law legalized same-sex marriage, two men (a psychiatrist and a store window decorator) have become the first gay couple to tie the knot with a ceremony in a Madrid suburb.

The civil ceremony, which lasted 10 minutes, was attended by a few family members and friends of the couple (as well as several dozen representatives of the media) in the city council room in the suburb of Tres Cantos.

Pedro Zerolo, a gay rights activist and member of the country's ruling Socialist Party, confirmed it was the first marriage between people of the same sex in Spain and called it �a triumph of common sense and the state of law.�

Spain's Roman Catholic Church has made national headlines with its staunch opposition to the new law.

As reported by CNN International, Carlos Baturin German (the psychiatrist) and Emilio Menendez Menendez (the store window decorator) have been a couple for 30 years. The couple says they didn�t intend to be the first couple married in the country, but when their paperwork cleared and Tres Cantos town officials asked if they wanted to marry each other, they answered with an affirmative �yes.�

The Netherlands and Belgium also allow same-sex marriage, but Zerolo said the legal terminology in Spain's new law is more progressive than in those countries. It also goes beyond the same-sex marriage law in effect in some parts of Canada, because the Spanish legislation equates fully, without any separation or distinctions, same-sex marriage to heterosexual marriage.

Parliament approved the controversial law on a 187-to-147 vote on June 30, and the measure went into effect on July 3. Since then, numerous same-sex couples have gone to city halls and civil registries across Spain to get the required paperwork to hold a civil wedding.

�We're normal people who love each other and want to be happy,� Menendez said afterward outside of the Tres Cantos town hall. �The (Catholic) bishops have lost an opportunity to be shepherds," he added, saying the church could have tried to mend fences by reserving church weddings for heterosexual couples while accepting civil marriages for gays.

Thousands of Spaniards demonstrated in central Madrid last month just before the law was finally approved, and last week, leaders of the Spanish church sharply criticized the law, saying it would create �confusion� and went against �human reason.�

The new law is also seen as a challenge for Pope Benedict XVI, given the Vatican's strong stance in favor of heterosexual marriage only.

The Socialist government estimates there are 4 million homosexuals in Spain, nearly 10 percent of the population.

Under the new law, gay couples could also adopt children, but the first gay couple to wed said they weren't interested in adoption.

Polls show about 60-percent of Spaniards are in favor of same-sex marriage. – Gay Link Content

Related stories
Spain's gay marriage law hits first snag [07/07/2005]



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