Gay marriage row causes split in Popular Party
23 September 2005, MADRID — A rift has opened up among Spanish conservatives over the main opposition Popular Party's decision to challenge the constitutionality of a law passed in June that authorizes same-sex marriage.
23 September 2005
MADRID — A rift has opened up among Spanish conservatives over the main opposition Popular Party's decision to challenge the constitutionality of a law passed in June that authorizes same-sex marriage.
The controversy took off after when the president of the autonomous region of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, called PP leader Mariano Rajoy's announcement that the party would challenge the law "untimely," arguing that most Spaniards do not want to see the issue brought before the Constitutional Court.
Aguirre, former education minister in the PP government of prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, is an influential leader among Spanish conservatives, and her statements unleashed a fierce debate both inside and outside the party.
Far from backing down, she repeated her criticism, saying the legal challenge to same-sex marriage "will be portrayed by our adversaries as a PP attack on homosexuals, which is not good for the party".
"Sexual orientation lies within the sphere of individual freedom. We should favor the exercise of rights and freedoms," Aguirre told Onda Cero radio network.
Vigo Mayor and PP Senator Corina Porro also deemed the constitutional challenge unwise, because it entails "falling into the trap laid by the (ruling) Socialist Party, which wants to push us into a corner on the extreme right."
Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, mayor of Madrid and widely regarded as a standard-bearer for centrists within the PP, expressed the opinion that disagreeing with some of the party's decisions is normal, and said the municipality would continue to conduct gay marriages according to law.
But Ruiz Gallardon, who insists he will not publicly disagree with Rajoy, refused to answer the question of whether he will personally officiate at the wedding of Javier Gomez, who heads the PP's association of gays and lesbians, as he has done on three occasions.
PP deputies told EFE they support Rajoy's move to challenge the gay marriage law, which also gives same-sex couples the right to adopt children.
Adopted in the Spanish Parliament by a vote of 187 to 147 on 30 June, the measure was strongly opposed by the PP, the Roman Catholic Church and social conservatives.
Spain thus became the third European country, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to allow same-sex unions.
Twenty-seven gay and lesbian couples have been wed in Spain since the law took effect July 3.
PP leader Rajoy accused Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government of dividing the nation by pressing forward with same-sex marriage, arguing that it would have been better to forge a consensus around the conservatives' proposal for civil unions.
Polls conducted by the Center for Sociological Research show that 56.9 percent of Spaniards approve of same-sex marriage, while only 42.4 percent favor allowing gay married couples to adopt.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news