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First gay couple marries in Spain

Law grants them full recognition

MADRID -- Two men who have been together for 30 years got married yesterday, becoming the first couple to wed under Spain's new law allowing same-sex marriages.

The ceremony took place in Tres Cantos, a town outside Madrid.

The law took effect eight days ago, making Spain the third country in the world to grant full legal recognition to same-sex couples. The others are the Netherlands and Belgium. Similar legislation is pending in Canada.

Spanish television showed video of the couple -- identified in news reports as Emilio Menendez and Carlos Baturin -- smiling and holding up wedding rings after the ceremony at the town hall in Tres Cantos.

Pedro Zerolo, the ruling Socialist Party's top official for social issues, attended.

The town council is run by the conservative Popular Party, which voted against the law when it went before Spain's Parliament on June 30.

The ceremony was presided over by a town councilor from the United Left party, which voted in favor. It was not immediately known whether the conservative mayor refused to do so.

On the day Parliament voted, the Roman Catholic Church in Spain issued a veiled call for civil authorities who opposed gay marriage to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings.

The law gives gay couples the same rights as heterosexual ones. Besides getting married, they can adopt children and inherit each other's property.

Since the law took effect July 3, about 50 couples are believed to have filed papers seeking to get married.

The Justice Ministry estimates about 10 percent of Spain's population of 43 million people is homosexual.

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