In July of 2005, Ramón Vizcaíno and Luis Ibarcena became one of the first gay couples to seek government authorization to wed under Spain's new marriage law.
"This means we are no longer second-class citizens," Vizcaíno said. "We have always had the same obligations as other citizens. We deserve the same rights, too."
The lines inside the Madrid Civil Registry, where residents apply for marriage licenses, swelled with gay and lesbian couples for the first time, after Parliament passed a law giving same-sex couples the right to marry and to adopt children.
The vote made Spain the first nation to remove all legal distinctions between same-sex and heterosexual unions, said advocates for marriage rights for gay couples. Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands had previously legalized gay marriage, but only Canada's laws, which did not yet apply to all of the country, contained language as liberal as Spain's.
Parliament's decision to legalize gay marriage provoked tremendous animosity among religious conservatives in predominantly Roman Catholic Spain.
In a speech before Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, the archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, condemned the law, saying it was evidence of a society in which "not only is faith denied, but also human reason itself."
Ricardo Blázquez, the president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, also denounced the law, saying that it "throws moral and human order into confusion."
Many gay couples said they had grown up in Catholic households but were no longer practicing Catholics, in part because of the church's opposition to gay marriage. Some still attended church regularly. (info from The New York Times)