Spain's RC church slams gay marriage plans
September 28, 2004
MADRID — The Catholic Church blasted the Socialist government's plans to
legalize gay marriage, saying it would be like releasing a "virus"
into Spanish society.
The Cabinet is expected Friday to pass a bill allowing same sex
marriages, setting predominantly Roman Catholic Spain on course to
join the vanguard of largely secular northern European countries
that allow gay marriage or some version of it.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero took office in April
with an ambitious agenda of social reforms, such as streamlined
divorce and a relaxed abortion law. The church is furious, and
spoke out Monday with some of its harshest words yet on one of
Zapatero's boldest endeavors, gay marriage.
Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, spokesman for the Spanish Bishops
Conference, said the church had nothing against homosexuals but
feels a union of two people of the same sex is simply not a
Allowing this would create "a counterfeit currency in the body
of society," Martinez Camino said in an interview on Spanish
Such legislation, he said, is like "imposing a virus on society,
something false that will have negative consequences for social
After Friday's expected approval in a Cabinet meeting, the bill
goes to Parliament for debate.
Zapatero runs a minority government but is generally supported
by two small leftist parties. The government says once the bill
becomes law, gays would be able to start marrying next year.
That would mark a sea change for this predominantly Roman
Catholic country, although church officials admit that support for
it has fallen in the generation that's transpired since the death
in 1975 of Gen. Francisco Franco, whose right-wing regime was
closely linked to the church.
Polls say nearly half of Spain's Catholics almost never go to
Mass, and a third say they are simply not religious.
A survey published Monday in the newspaper El Pais, which
supports the Socialist party, said 62 percent of those questioned
support gay marriage.
Spain would thus join Belgium and the Netherlands, which have
legalized gay marriage. Sweden and Denmark have "civil union" laws
for same-sex couples, which fall short of allowing outright gay
marriage. However, in both of these countries the union can be
blessed by the Lutheran Church, which is the official state
Zapatero's government is going so far as to plan an overhaul of
church-state relations, a reform that Deputy Justice Minister Luis
Lopez Guerra last week called "a road map" correcting what he
called "undeniable advantages" enjoyed by the Catholic church and
guaranteeing that Spain will be a secular state.
Many Catholic schools are subsidized by the government, for
instance, and on income tax returns, Spaniards can check off a box
that will send 0.5 percent of their tax debt to the Catholic
Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told a
news conference last week that the government did not plan to end
state financing of the church, but acknowledged that reforms are
afoot, although she gave no details.
"It is true that the government is talking about laicism, and we
are going to keep working toward laicism because we think it is a
mandate that is included in the Constitution and that's how our
state is," she told reporters. – Sapa-AP
Spain's Catholic Church campaigns against gay marriage [22/07/2004]