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Couples in Spain launch gay marriage challenge

Couples in Spain launch gay marriage challenge

Three gay couples, with a Madrid councilman among them, have filed for official permission to marry in a high-profile challenge to the conservative Spanish government's refusal to recognize gay marriage, Agence France-Presse reports. Two couples applied for permission in Madrid and another in the eastern city of Valencia, all on Wednesday, in moves backed by the opposition Socialists and the Communist-linked United Left coalition. The parties sent representatives along with the Madrid couples. A registry judge must give them an answer within two weeks, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo said. Should they be refused, the couples will take the issue to the courts, first filing an appeal with Spain's constitutional court and then, if need be, with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Given the conservative government's persistence in refusing to authorize gay marriage, "we are going to try to win in the courts as happened in Canada," said Beatriz Gimeno, who applied for a marriage license with his partner, Boti Garcia, in Madrid along with another couple, Pedro Zerolo, a Socialist who holds an elected seat on the Madrid city council, and his partner, Jesus Santos. The other couple, Antonio Boveda and Miguel Angel Fernandez, applied in Valencia, the newspaper El Pais reported. In February, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's right-wing People's Party defeated an opposition bill allowing gay marriages. People's Party deputy Rosa Estaras said at the time that her party had used its absolute majority to defeat a proposal it deemed "unconstitutional." Four of Spain's autonomous regions--the Basque country, Andalusia, Catalonia, and Navarra--have adopted legislation that is more liberal than national laws but falls short of legalizing gay marriage. The regional laws accord unmarried couples--both gay and straight--the same rights as married couples in adoption, health care, and taxation.

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