Portugal Parliament votes to permit gay marriage

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LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s Parliament has passed a bill allowing gay marriage in the mostly Roman Catholic country.

The Socialist government’s bill won the support of all left-of-center parties Friday. Right-of-center parties opposed the change and argued it should be put to a national referendum.

The proposed law now goes to conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva who can ratify or veto it, but a veto can be overturned by Parliament.

Its approval would make Portugal the sixth European country to allow same-sex marriages.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates said the measure is part of his effort to modernize Portugal. Two years ago his government lifted Portugal’s ban on abortion.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s Parliament is debating a bill that would permit gay marriage in the mostly Roman Catholic country.

The Socialist government’s bill has the support of all left-of-center parties and is expected to pass Friday afternoon.

Its approval would make Portugal the sixth European country to allow same-sex marriages.

If passed, the proposed law goes to Portugal’s conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva. He can ratify or veto it, but a veto can be overturned by Parliament.

If there is no presidential veto, the first gay marriage ceremonies could take place in April.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates says the measure is part of his effort to modernize Portugal. Two years ago his government lifted Portugal’s ban on abortion.