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After the disappointing news from New Jersey on same-sex marriage, it’s refreshing to wake up this morning to hear that Portugal, that little land-locked country next to Spain, has passed a law in parliament that will permit same-sex marriages as soon as April.
 
The Socialist country of Portugal, although predominantly Catholic and faced with conservative opposition passed the law Friday by a margin of 125 to 99.
 
"It’s a slight change to the law, it’s true," Socrates, the prime minister, said. "But it is a very important and symbolic step towards fully ensuring respect for values that are essential in any democratic, open and tolerant society: the values of freedom, equality and non-discrimination."
 
The bill still needs to be signed into law by Conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva, however, it is unlikely that the bill will be vetoed which means that Portugal will soon join other European countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway in recognizing the right of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people to marry.
 
Now if it’s anything that I picked up from this story it’s that despite the strong presence of the Catholic Church in Portugal, there are a majority of people in the government who recognize equal rights and recognize that one of the largest churches in the world cannot stand in the way of LGBT people’s civil rights. This is the same church that not too long ago threatened to “stop feeding the homeless” if same-sex marriage was allowed in Washington D.C. It’s entirely possible to fight conservative opponents of same-sex marriage, but it takes a strong group of people to be persistent and not settle for separate but equal civil unions. This is the same country that just lifted the government’s ban on abortion two years ago and permitted same-sex unions in 2001. Change is possible if we work at it, people, even in the United States and countries that have a large demographic belonging to a historically anti-gay church.
 
Even though this same-sex marriage bill has been passed, the fight isn’t over in Portugal, yet. Not too long ago, Portugal refused to grant same-sex couples the right to adopt children. Hopefully, legislators will not be dissuaded by the failure to pass a bill that would allow LGBT adoption and will only be further encouraged to move forward with LGBT rights after this victory.
 
And if it’s any other good news, the pope plans to visit Portugal in May, the month after same-sex marriages can begin to be ratified if this bill is passed.
 
Peace, Love, and Solidarity!

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