[JURIST] Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva [official website, in Portuguese] on Monday signed a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] but stops short of allowing same-sex couples to adopt. The bill was approved [JURIST report] by the Portuguese Parliament [official website, in Portuguese] in January and found to be constitutional [text, in Portuguese] by the Constitutional Court [official website, in Portuguese] last month. Silva indicated he was unhappy with the manner in which the bill was passed but that he was signing the law so parliament could move on to other matters. He also indicated that he could have chosen to veto the bill, stating [press release, in Portuguese]:
The Parliamentary bill which allows marriage between persons of the same gender was submitted by me to the Constitutional Court for preventive investigation, and considered by this body as not unconstitutional. This, however, would not prevent the possibility of the President of the Republic using the vetoing power conferred upon him by the Constitution and return it to Parliament. However, regard should be given to the practical effects of such a decision and take into due account the superior national interest, in the face of the dramatic situation of the Country. As such, I believe that I should not contribute towards the unnecessary dragging out of this debate, which would only accentuate divisions among the Portuguese and stray the attention of politicians from the resolution of the issues which so grievously affect people's lives.
Same-sex marriage is now recognized by six countries in Europe including Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Norway [JURIST reports], while several other countries including the UK, France, and Germany recognize civil unions between same-sex partners.
Many countries are currently debating the issue of same-sex marriage, with varying results. Earlier this month, Argentina's lower house approved a bill [JURIST report] that would legalize same-sex marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt. Last month, Italy's Constitutional Court rejected a challenge [JURIST report] to the constitutionality of the country's ban on same-sex marriage. In the US, individual states determine marital rights for same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington DC [JURIST reports]. Same-sex civil unions are currently recognized in Washington, New Jersey, Oregon, and Nevada [JURIST reports].
Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.