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.

Portugal's Socialist-controlled 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.