SAME-SEX MARRIAGE CONTROVERSY

PP backs away from minister’s “personal opinions” on gay marriage

Clergy’s celibacy also doesn’t guarantee “the continuation of the species,” says one PP deputy

The Popular Party (PP) on Monday distanced itself from what it said were “personal opinions” made last week by Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz, who said that one valid reason to argue against homosexual marriage is that “the survival of the species is not guaranteed.”

“Everyone knows the interior minister’s personal opinion on this matter and you also know the party’s opinion with respect to current legislation and to the Constitutional Court’s ruling,” said Rafael Merino, the PP's deputy spokesman in Congress.

On Wednesday during a symposium at the Spanish Embassy in Rome, Fernández Díaz explained that “religious reasons” could not be used as valid legal arguments against gay marriage.

“There are rational arguments to back the idea that these marriages shouldn’t have the same protection under the law as normal ones. For example, the survival of the species is not guaranteed,” he said during a forum entitled Religion and the Public Realm.

Gay rights groups have demanded that Fernández Díaz apologize for his remarks or step down.

It wasn’t the first time that the interior minister, a member of Opus Dei and the lay Catholic chivalry group Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, has taken a public stance against the 2005 law that was passed by the previous Socialist government and upheld this year by the Constitutional Court.

"If we didn't think that it was unconstitutional we would not have voted against it. We would not have presented amendments and we would not have filed an appeal," he said in February.

The PP had filed an appeal to revoke the word “marriage” from the law. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy explained that he had no problem with giving homosexual couples registered partner rights.

Some in the PP took a stronger stance in defense of the law following Fernández Díaz’s remarks.

“Gay marriage doesn’t guarantee the continuation of the species but neither does celibacy,” said PP Deputy Agustín Conde, who represents Toledo, in reference to the Catholic clergy’s vows.

Alicia Sánchez-Camacho, the leader of the Catalan Popular Party (PPC), said she didn’t think that the Fernández Díaz would refuse to uphold the law judging by his comments.

“I respect the minister’s personal opinion, and his statements may have been taken out of context,” she said.

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