Thursday, January 31, 2008

Spaniards Overwhelmingly Approve Of Gay Marriages

With just over a month before Spain goes to the polls the Socialist government's same-sex marriage law is causing barely a ripple in the campaign.

When the law was passed two years ago the conservative opposition Popular Party joined the Catholic Church and condemned the move.

At the time the PP said it would use the law to defeat the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Now there is scant mention of opposition, no doubt the result of polls that show same-sex marriage has broad acceptance.

A public opinion poll released this month by Instituto Opina shows that nearly 75 percent of those questioned said they are fine with the law and it should not be repealed.

Only 18 percent favor abolishing the law.

The gay marriage bill was the boldest and most divisive initiative of the liberal social agenda Zapatero has embarked on since taking office in April 2004.

The Roman Catholic Church, which held much sway over the government just a generation ago when Gen. Francisco Franco was in power, had adamantly opposed gay marriage.

In its first display of anti-government activism in 20 years, it endorsed a Madrid rally in which hundreds of thousands marched in opposition to the bill. Some 20 bishops took part.When the law was passed it earned Zapatero a stern rebuke from the Vatican.

Earlier this month when Zapatero called elections for March 9 he said that the same-sex marriage law was one of his greatest achievements.

But despite public support for the law his left-of-center government is facing stiff competition from the PP.

The most recent poll shows the two parties in a dead heat.

Spain's economy, for more than a decade one of the most vibrant in Europe, is cooling off and inflation is running at more than four per cent, so the economy has become a major campaign issue.

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