Catholic Church Encourages Spaniards to Vote Against Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

July 21, 2004

Source: Los Angeles Times,1,3933534.story?coll=la-news-religion

On July 21, 2004 the Los Angeles Times reported, "Uneasy over the new government's liberal social agenda and its own declining influence, the Roman Catholic Church in Spain urged followers Tuesday to do their utmost to block Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's plan to legalize same-sex marriage. The exhortation followed a meeting of Spain's leading bishops, who condemned such unions as an aberration against nature and said the government's proposed law was an unprecedented affront to traditional values...Father Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, a spokesman for the Spanish Episcopal Conference, said that Catholic legislators should vote against the measure and that all Spaniards, Catholic or otherwise, should oppose the bill. He would not say whether the church would encourage government bureaucrats to refuse to enforce the law, if it passes. Zapatero's Socialist government, elected in an upset in March that ended eight years of conservative rule, says a law formally recognizing same-sex unions should be ready to be submitted to parliament in September and could be enacted as early as January. This is only one of many issues over which the church and the new government have clashed. Zapatero has indicated that he plans to relax restrictions on abortion and divorce, permit stem-cell research using human embryos and shelve a law that made Catholic instruction compulsory in schools. In addition, the government is negotiating with Protestant representatives and the leaders of two other faiths that have existed in Spain for centuries � Islam and Judaism � on a plan to grant them limited benefits. All of this makes the Catholic Church nervous and serves as a painful reminder that it no longer holds the privileged position it enjoyed for generations in Spain."