Portugal set to legalize gay marriage! (from Yahoo! News): Catholic Portugal, traditionally one of Europe's most socially conservative countries, is expected to approve the legalisation of gay marriage on Friday with a minimum of fuss.
With the governing Socialists and other left-wing parties enjoying a strong majority, the new law is likely to sail through the first reading debate and gain final approval before a visit by Pope Benedict XVI, due in Portugal in May.
In contrast to Spain, where the lead-up to the legalisation of gay marriage in 2005 brought hundreds of thousands of demonstrators onto the streets, the bill in Portugal has provoked only muted opposition even from the right.
While normally vocal on the role of marriage and the family in society, the Catholic Church has refused to mobilise on a subject which, according to Lisbon's Cardinal Patriarch Jose Policarpo, is "parliament's responsibility".
"I think the Portuguese people have learnt one of the fundamental tenets of democracy: respect for the rights of the individual," Miguel Vale de Almeida, Portugal's first openly-gay lawmaker who was elected in September, told AFP.