The final wording of a gay marriage bill approved by Portugal's Parliament received approval on Wednesday, Portugal's IOL Diario reported.

The government's Committee for Constitutional Affairs unanimously agreed on the bill's final language.

The measure now heads to the desk of President Anibal Cavaco Silva. Cavaco Silva is a Roman Catholic and a member of the PSD party, groups which oppose the legalization of gay marriage, and he has publicly stated his opposition to gay marriage.

Opposition to gay marriage in the mostly Roman Catholic country has been nominal, but last Sunday opponents staged a huge rally attended by thousands. A crowd estimated at 5,000 marched down Lisbon's main downtown artery Av. da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue) calling on the president to reject the gay marriage bill and demanding a referendum on gay marriage, although Parliamentarians have already rejected such a measure.

The Socialist-controlled Parliament, led by Prime Minister Jose Socrates, is prepared to overturn a presidential veto.

The Vatican has vociferously opposed laws that grant gay couples the right to marry. Pope Benedict has called for the ouster of Socialists in Spain who approved a gay marriage law in 2005, but the church's opposition in Portugal has been muted. However, Benedict is widely expected to criticize the bill when he visits Portugal in May.

President Cavaco Silva will have eight days to forward the bill to the Constitutional Court – which denied a lesbian couple the right to marry in a narrow 3-to-2 decision last year – or 20 days to veto the measure once it lands on his desk.

Gay marriage is legal in five European counties, including Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and, most recently, Sweden.