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Same-sex marriage may be legalized in Spain

Same-sex marriage may be legalized in Spain

Spain's new Socialist government says it intends to ease restrictions on divorce and abortion and allow same-sex couples to marry, despite opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. "The only binding norms for the government and all its citizens are those derived from the constitution," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting. "We have to put down clear rules." Justice minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar has told the parliament that the government, which took office last month, would propose several reforms. Same-sex couples would be allowed to marry and, possibly, adopt children. "Homosexuals should...have the same possibilities as heterosexuals to enter into marriage," he added. The new government would also make it easier for women to have an abortion. Abortions currently are allowed only in cases of rape or incest or when there is a health risk to the mother or fetus. Divorce procedures in this traditionally Roman Catholic country would be streamlined. Predivorce separation periods, for example, would be reduced or eliminated altogether. The church was not long in making its opposing viewpoint known. On Thursday spokesman Juan Antonio Martinez Camino said the church opposes the government in five general areas: embryonic research leading to stem cell research, assisted reproduction, embryo selection for therapeutic use, abortion, and same-sex marriage. "The state is not competent to establish or expand legislation that eliminates human life," he said. "These reforms question the legitimacy of the rule of law." The two sides are trying to sort out differences by dialogue, though it's hard to see common ground. Lopez Aguilar met Thursday with the archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, who celebrated the wedding Mass last Saturday of Crown Prince Felipe and former TV anchorwoman Letizia Ortiz at Almudena Cathedral. Martinez Camino said the church intends to mobilize public opposition to the proposed changes.

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