In 2005, the same year Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero (former prime minister of Spain) decided to make the bold move to legalize gay marriage, my boyfriend and I got married. It was finally possible in Spain. Countries such as Great Britain, France, Germany still lack legislation as progressive as ours or simply have no legislation at all, as is the case in Italy. After getting married, my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Rome and there met with some gay activists who were in awe. It was the first time they were around gay married men... they admired Catholic Spain for having taken a step that for Italy was -- and remains -- light years away.
In Spain, several weeks before our wedding, some straight people questioned our desire to get married. They were married and must have been going through a bad time to hold such a deplorable image of the institution of marriage. But in other cases, it was because gays and lesbians were -- and should have remained -- a symbol of the vanguard.
We decided to ignore them and to get married. We wanted the same rights as other citizens, no more no less, and we couldn't understand why the Church, some ultra-conservative organizations and the right-wing Partido Popular party (PP) itself insisted on street protests, one after the other, against the announced legalization of gay marriage and, most of all, against the word "marriage." The word "marriage" disgusted them. Some inside the PP and even within the Church were ready to accept that we could be joined. But to call our union the same as theirs seemed intolerable to them.
The larger part of this homophobia is based on religious motives, justified by various biblical quotes that criticize homosexuality. But how can you value something with the mindset of a person who lived thousands of years ago? We now have planes, trains, highways, movies, television, computers and internet, democracy, human rights, feminism... there are also cures for many types of cancers and artificial insemination... How can an institution or a political party insist that we live according to the rules of people who lived thousands of years ago? And above all, I would ask myself: Why? Why would they want us to live that way? Why don't they want us to live freely with our sexuality?
I suppose the answer is the same that leaves us unable to understand why Spain's justice minister doesn't want women to have the right to abortion in case of birth defects. Our leaders, in the wake of 40 years of dictatorship, are obsessed with controlling our bodies and through them, our lives. And we citizens are not prepared to yield...
I have been with my husband for 16 years, but married only for seven. Those seven years are the same time span it took the Constitutional Court to declare gay marriage constitutional, thereby invalidating the PP's many demands to ban it. This verdict saved us from making a fool of ourselves and will be among the few measures the PP keep of Zapatero's social legacy. It's good news for the cause of equality and human rights. It's taken the Constitutional Court seven years to make the decision, and many of us feared it would not be capable of a fair verdict. But we finally know they will not un-marry us.
In December, we will be able to celebrate our seventh anniversary as a married couple.