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Spain one step closer to legalizing same-sex marriage

Spain one step closer to legalizing same-sex marriage

The Spanish government's same-sex marriage bill cleared another legal hurdle Tuesday with passage by a senate panel. But conservative lawmakers attached an amendment that would let civil officials who object to same-sex marriage refuse to conduct such ceremonies and have another official stand in for them at weddings. The bill now goes to the full senate next week. Passage there is expected, although the conscientious-objector amendment was a surprise and will have to be debated. The lower house of parliament, which approved the bill in April, would then have to OK the senate version. Same-sex marriage is expected to become law in Spain this summer. In Tuesday's debate in the senate justice committee, lawmakers rejected a motion by the conservative Popular Party that sought to defeat the bill under which Spain's Socialist government would legalize same-sex marriage and let gay couples adopt children and enjoy all other rights now bestowed on heterosexual couples. This would make traditionally Roman Catholic Spain only the third country in Europe to legalize gay marriage, after Belgium and the Netherlands. But by a vote of 13-11, the Popular Party and a conservative party based in the Catalonia region forced passage of an amendment that says town hall officials who object to marriage equality could refuse to preside over same-sex ceremonies. A mechanism would be created to have someone else automatically stand in and conduct the ceremony. (AP)

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