World

Spain moves closer to legalizing gay marriage

The ruling cabinet in Spain approved a bill on Friday that would legalize same-sex marriages

The ruling cabinet in Spain approved a bill on Friday that would legalize same-sex marriages, a step that moves the country closer to becoming the third European country to recognize gay weddings.

The bill would allow homosexuals to adopt children and would extend to same-sex spouses the same inheritance rights and pension benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

The cabinet of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero approved the bill on Friday. The ruling party expects to present the bill to parliament in February.

"The right to marry is a right for everyone, without distinction. It cannot be understood as a privilege," said Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega after the meeting. "The recognition of homosexuals' rights eradicates an unjustified discrimination."

The Roman Catholic church, which holds a great deal of influence in Spain, is adamantly opposed to gay marriage.

Belgium and the Netherlands have already legalized gay marriages.

"Civil union" laws for same-sex couples are on the books in Sweden and Denmark, but they fall short of legalizing gay marriage. In both countries, the Lutheran church can bless the unions.

Canada's proposed same-sex marriage law was approved by the Supreme Court earlier this month.