Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco
Silva will sign a gay marriage bill approved by lawmakers, the AP
Portugal now becomes the sixth European
country to grant gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. The
law, approved in January by lawmakers, does not permit gay couples to adopt.
The seventy-year-old president
announced his decision is a televised address to the nation.
Last month, the president, 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 nation's Constitutional Court, setting aside
the measure that prohibits gay adoption. He said he did so because
he doubted the bill's constitutionality.
The court's majority agreed that the
four articles were constitutional, leaving Cavaco Silva to decide
whether to sign or veto the bill.
Last week, Pope Benedict called on
Portuguese Roman Catholics to oppose gay marriage as the president
considered the issue.
Speaking in the Portuguese city of
Fatima, the pope called for a greater defense of what he said were
“essential and primary values of life,” among which he included
the family. He said the family was “founded on indissoluble
marriage between man and woman.”
Abortion – legal in Portugal since
2007 – and gay marriage were “among some of the most insidious
and dangerous challenges facing the common good today.”
Cavaco Silva lamented his decision,
saying he was only doing so because Social Democrats – led by Prime
Minister Jose Socrates – were certain to overturn his veto.
“Given that fact, I feel I should not
contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only
serve to deepen the divisions between the Portuguese and divert the
attention of politicians away from the grave problems affecting us,”
He said that, in signing the law, he
was setting aside “personal convictions” for the greater good of
Gay marriage is legal in Belgium, the
Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway.
are also considering legalizing gay marriage.