Spain's gay marriage law turned five on July 3. Passage of the law in the Roman Catholic nation turned Spain into a gay rights leader. Since then, 10,317 male couples and 5,063 female couples have married, 1.55% of the nation's total marriages, Madrid-based daily El Pais reported.

The Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero approved the law over the objections of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict has called on Spanish Catholics to reject gay marriage.

In 2005, only three nations – the Netherlands, Canada and Belgium – had legalized gay marriage. Five years later, Sweden, Iceland, South Africa, and Portugal have joined in.

Lawmakers in Argentina will consider a gay marriage law on July 14.

Emilio Menendez and Carlos Baturin, partnered for 30 years, became the first couple to wed on July 11.

Five years later, the men say the law has revolutionized the way people view their relationship.

“Average people perceive being gay as something normal,” Baturin, a psychiatrist originally from New York, said.

Baturin added that marriage has allowed him to grow closer to his husband's family.

Menendez, 55, says the was proud to be a Spaniard on the day lawmakers approved the law.

“That's why I'm optimistic,” he says. “If you told me when I met Carlos that one day I would be able to marry him, I would have answered that neither my children or grandchildren would see that day.”

The struggle for equality in Spain faced a steep incline. The regime of Francisco Franco shipped off gay men and lesbians to institutions, likened by some activists to concentration camps. Being gay was decriminalized in 1979, shortly after the dictator's death.