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100,000 in Madrid Fete Gay Marriage Law

Spain's culture minister and other officials lead a joyous march to mark the expansion of rights.

July 03, 2005|From Associated Press

MADRID — Tens of thousands of people, many dancing or banging drums, packed the streets of Madrid on Saturday to celebrate Spain's new law legalizing gay marriage.

"This is infinitely gay. There are no words to express it," Ivan Sanchez, a 26-year-old pharmacist, said as the throng snaked its way through the capital.

Flatbed trucks crowded with young men and women honked their horns as they made their way through the streets under a blazing summer sun in a procession led by Culture Minister Carmen Calvo and other members of the governing Socialist Party, which sponsored the law.

"Now that some of us are more free, all Spaniards are more free," said Cholo Soto, 30, a government clerk who joined the march.

The Interior Ministry put attendance at 100,000, but the turnout looked much bigger.

In the same square in 2003, the late Pope John Paul II said Mass for an estimated 1 million people and said the traditionally Roman Catholic nation had to reembrace its religious roots. The church is vehemently opposed to the new law on same-sex marriage.

Gay couples are not expected to start getting married until late this month because of pre-ceremony paperwork, said Spain's main federation of gays and lesbians, known as the FELGT.

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