Just two days after Canadian members of Parliament passed same-sex marriage legislation, Spanish lawmakers have voted to allow gays and lesbians to legally marry.
We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told the chamber. "After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality."
Zapatero's Socialist government proposed the legislation shortly after winning the 2004 elections.
Spanish gay couples can get married as soon as the law is published in the official government registry, which could come as early as Friday, or within two weeks at the latest, the parliament's press office said.
One has to wonder whether Spain's gays and lesbians have George Bush to thank! After all, Zapatero's Socialists were swept into power in March 2004 as a result of a massive voter backlash against Spanish Conservative support for the American intervention in Iraq. I must confess, I rather like the idea that the legalization of gay marriage in Spain is an unintended consequence of the Iraq War. Under Franco, homosexuality was a crime; less than thirty years later, what was once the most reactionary state in Western Europe has become only the third country (after Belgium and the Netherlands) on the continent to give full equality to gays and lesbians. Who could ever have predicted that Spain would do this before, say, Norway or Sweden or Germany? Surely the Iraq story factors into the equation.
For social conservatives across the globe, this must be disheartening news. How can the right fight coordinated battles against gay marriage in Spain, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, and elsewhere simultaneously? Here in the States, I hear nothing from the Republican-dominated Congress about the Federal Marriage Amendment. What say you, social conservatives? Has your fearless leader betrayed you? The president champions Social Security reform, he champions the war in Iraq, but where are his stump speeches for a national marriage amendment? Are you disappointed? Frustrated? Is it beginning to become evident that though you may have fought the good fight, whatever happens in individual American states cannot stop the inexorable advance of full equality for gays and lesbians across the globe?
I don't mean to sound as if I'm gloating. But I am happy that the anti-gay backlash that seemed so potent last November seems to have faded so quickly. I'm not yet ready to predict that the anti-equality forces have hit their zenith, but I suspect that they're awfully close.
On a related note, see this post on Canadian marriage and gay history by my fellow Cliopatriarch, Greg Robinson.
I'm off to give summer midterms.