Top court expected to rule in favor of use of word "marriage" for gay unions

The Popular Party challenged the law in late 2005, arguing it violated the Constitution

The Constitutional Court is expected on Tuesday to vote in favor of gay marriage in a long-awaited decision concerning the seven-year-old law, which was challenged by the Popular Party (PP) while it was in opposition.

In what is expected to be a six-to-five vote, the judges will agree to keep the word “marriage” for same-sex unions, something that was included in the groundbreaking reform passed during the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on June 30, 2005.

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón said some months back that the PP government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy would respect the Constitutional Court’s decision, whatever it may be.

Chief Justice Pascual Sala has been able to gather enough votes on the 12-member panel to approve an opinion written by Justice Pablo Pérez Tremps in favor of gay marriage. Another justice, Francisco Hernando Santiago, has abstained from voting.

Since the Civil Code was amended, some 20,000 gay marriages have been celebrated throughout Spain. Since 2001, same-sex marriages have been legalized in 10 other countries – Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa and Sweden – while same-sex partnerships are recognized in other nations such as Britain, Germany and France.

The PP challenged the law in late 2005 arguing that the reform of the Civil Code violated at least seven amendments in the Spanish Constitution, including Article 32 “for not respecting the constitutional definition of a union between a man and a woman.”

Besides Gallardón, who said his “person opinion” is to support same-sex marriage, other PP members, such as then-Madrid regional premier Esperanza Aguirre, came out against her party’s appeal before the Constitutional Court.

Rajoy, for his part, has been ambiguous over the issue, especially during last year’s election campaign. “The answer is very simple. We are going to wait and see what the Constitutional Court says. We are going to wait and not speculate,” he told EL PAÍS last November in an interview before the election.

Chief Justice Sala has convened the Constitutional Court’s session for 5pm Tuesday.

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