Portugal is a very Catholic country (84.5% Catholic). Unlike in the United States, which purports to have a separation of church and state, the Catholic Church doesn’t control the legislative process in Portugal. Today, the Parliament approved same-sex marriage:
Portugal’s parliament passed a bill Friday that would make the predominantly Catholic nation the sixth in Europe to permit gay marriage.
Conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva is thought unlikely to veto the Socialist government’s bill, which won the support of all left-of-center parties. His ratification would allow the first gay marriage ceremonies to take place in April — a month before Pope Benedict XVI is due on an official visit to Portugal.
Right-of-center parties opposed the change and sought a national referendum on the issue, but their proposal was rejected and the government’s bill was passed by 125 votes to 99.