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Two Spanish air
force men to wed

Two Spanish air
force men to wed

Two male air force privates were to wed in a ceremony in Seville, Spain, on Friday, the first known marriage of two military servicemen since the once-conservative Catholic country's legalization of same-sex marriage. Some members of the military may not be happy about the union, but the defense ministry has said it considers the wedding a personal matter and that the men will be allowed to continue with their careers. It had no comment Friday regarding the pending nuptials. The two grooms, both named Alberto, were to be married late Friday by Seville mayor Alfredo Sanchez Monteseirin at town hall. The mayor is a member of the ruling Socialist Party, which legalized same-sex marriage last year and has pushed through other liberal laws allowing fast-track divorce and medically assisted fertilization. The laws have irked the Roman Catholic Church and the country's conservative establishment, which has accused the government of tearing away at the nation's traditional values. But the wedding has barely caused a ripple of controversy in Spanish society. There was little mention of it in the country's main newspapers, and no protests were expected at the ceremony in Seville, the main city in Spain's southern Andalusia province. The two men, whose last names have not yet been released, said in June when they announced plans to wed that they expected some friction from their colleagues. "We know we are in the armed forces and this is touchy because we are not gardeners, but rather soldiers. I know there are superior officers who will make life difficult for me, and they are already doing so," said one of the men, according to the Cadena Ser radio station. The wedding appears to be the first marriage between two same-sex members of the Spanish armed forces, though it is possible that others have tied the knot quietly. Last summer a member of the Civil Guard, a quasi-police force that reports to the interior ministry, married his lifelong same-sex partner, and both were allowed to live in his barracks. "At the time it caused a big stir, but things are becoming more normal now, thank God," said Juan Manuel Riesco, a spokesman for a group representing Madrid's gay and lesbian population. The defense ministry said earlier this year that it had heard about the air force privates' wedding plans through news reports but had no comment other than to say that the men have every right to marry under the new marriage law. Unlike the United States, Spain has no law prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military, and other service members have acknowledged their homosexuality in the past. The two Albertos even received permission to wear their military uniforms during the wedding but in the end decided against it to avoid antagonizing those who oppose the union. Some 4,500 same-sex couples have wed under Spain's marriage legislation, according to the justice ministry. Besides Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, and Belgium have legalized same-sex marriage, while Britain and other European countries have laws that give same-sex couples the right to form legally binding partnerships. In the United States, only the state of Massachusetts allows same-sex marriage, while Vermont and Connecticut permit civil unions. (Javier Barbancho, AP)

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