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Spain moves closer on gay marriage

By CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman

The bill makes Spain only the third country in Europe to condone same-sex marriages.
Same-sex marriages
Catholic Church

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Spain has moved a big step closer to permitting gay marriage after the Cabinet approved a bill authorizing homosexuals to marry and adopt children.

"The Cabinet has approved a bill to revise the Civil Code to permit homosexual matrimony," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega announced Friday after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

The bill now goes to Parliament, where the Socialist government says it has enough support to pass the law, which could make gay marriage possible by next year.

The bill also provides for homosexual marriages to have the same rights on inheritance and pensions, and seeking bank credit, as heterosexual spouses.

It's a great day for all because we end centuries of discrimination," Fernandez de la Vega told reporters, adding that homosexuals are "our family members and co-workers. They're citizens like the rest of us with obligations and rights."

She said there were about 4 million homosexuals in Spain, which would amount to 10 percent of the nation's 40 million people.

The Roman Catholic Church has staunchly opposed the initiative, and one leading cleric has called gay marriage a "virus." Church leaders say it will lead to the breakdown of the family as a core factor in society. (Full story)

Spain would become only the third European nation permitting gay marriage, after Holland and Belgium, gay rights leaders say.

Fernandez de la Vega said there was no evidence that homosexual parents are worse than heterosexual parents and that the prime decision in permitting an adoption should be the well-being of the child.

A survey published Monday in the newspaper El Pais, which supports the Socialist party, said 62 percent of those questioned support gay marriage.

Copyright 2004 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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