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Spain holds first gay marriage

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Spain
Justice and Rights
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MADRID, Spain (Reuters) -- Spain celebrated its first homosexual marriage on Monday under a law passed last month making it the fourth country to legalize same-sex unions.

Emilio Menendez and Carlos Baturim tied the knot after more than 30 years as lovers at a civil ceremony in the town of Tres Cantos, some 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of Madrid.

Casually dressed in sports jackets, the smiling couple proudly showed off their wedding rings and marriage certificate before some 20 friends and family and more than 50 journalists.

The Socialist government's drive to give homosexual unions equal status with heterosexual marriage -- including inheritance and adoption rights -- has outraged many Roman Catholics.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including bishops and nuns, protested in Madrid last month against the reform. While some 90 percent of Spaniards are nominally Catholics, surveys suggested that 70 percent of citizens supported legalizing gay marriage.

The Socialists' liberal agenda is a major break with the past: Spain was ruled from 1939-1975 by Catholic nationalist dictator Francisco Franco, who banned homosexuality and divorce.

The three other countries to have legalized gay marriages are Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium.

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