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New Spanish Cabinet Includes Two Gay Ministers


Women and gay men now outnumber heterosexual men in Spain's cabinet.

In a first for heavily Catholic Spain, not one but two of the country's 17 newly appointed cabinet ministers are openly gay.

King Felipe VI on Thursday presided over the swearing-in ceremony of the new government of Prime Minster Pedro Sanchez, which included Fernando Grande Marlaska (pictured above, right), who became Spain's new interior minister, and Maxim Huerta (left), who became the new minister of culture and sports.

Grande Marlaska, a former judge widely known in Spain for taking a hard line against the now-disbanded Basque terrorist group ETA, will take charge of a portfolio that includes Spain's local and regional police forces as well as the national Guardia Civil. Huerta, a journalist and author, will oversee the preservation and promotion of Spanish heritage through museums, libraries, the arts, and cultural programming. He will also oversee the various government-run sports bodies and programs in Spain.

While historic, this is not the first time a government has had two openly gay ministers. Luxembourg's openly gay prime minister also serves as the country's ninister for communications and media, and its openly gay deputy prime minister concurrently serves as the minister for economy and Ttrade. But this is the first time that two openly gay ministers have been appointed to lead ministries without the role effectively being part-time.

The swearing-in was also historic for gender equality in Spain and around the world. Of the 17 newly appointed ministers, 11, or roughly two-thirds, are women. That also means that less than a quarter of Spain's cabinet members are heterosexual men, another first that is not likely to be repeated anywhere in the world for quite some time to come. The new ministers were appointed at the discretion of Spain's new prime minster, Pedro Sanchez, whose official title is President of the Government.

Sanchez and his Socialist Party-led coalition swept into power late last week in a stunning series of events that resulted in the prime minister of the past six and a half years being ousted over allegations of corruption within his party. The last time Spain's Socialist Party held power, the Parliament quickly legalized same-sex marriage despite strong opposition from the widely venerated Catholic Church, making Spain only the third country at the time, 2005, to allow legally recognized same-sex nuptials nationwide.

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