Gay marriage in Portugal is in the
hands of President Anibal Cavaco Silva after the country's
Constitutional Court OK'd the bill last week.
Parliament, led by Prime Minister Jose Socrates, approved the bill
that grants gay and lesbian couples all the rights and obligations of
marriage except adoption on February 11.
Cavaco Silva, a Roman Catholic and a
member of the PSD party, groups which oppose the legalization of gay
marriage, forwarded four out of five of the bill's articles to the
Constitutional Court, setting aside the measure's prohibition on
adoption. He said he did so because he doubted the bill's
constitutionality, but refused to say why he did not include the
article on adoption.
The court's majority, however, ruled
the bill is constitutional. Two judges disagreed.
Cavaco Silva now has 20 days to either
reject the measure or allow it to come into force.
Gay marriage backers are hopeful the
bill will become law before Pope Benedict's arrival on May 11. While
the Vatican vehemently disapproves of gay marriage, opposition in the
Catholic stronghold of Portugal has been muted. However, Benedict
has called for the ouster of Socialists in Spain who approved a gay
marriage law in 2005 and is expected to criticize the bill during his
visit. Benedict's visit could reignite opposition to the bill.
Should the president veto the measure,
Social Democrats say they have the votes needed to override it.
If approved, Portugal would join five
European countries – Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and,
most recently, Sweden – in legalizing gay marriage.