Felipe González: 1982 and 1986: Marriage equality

Context: Still working on compiling a more thorough history of Spanish lesbianism so it can be separated from the travel guides. The Felipe González period is just super long, the longest of any section. This specific section is on marriage equality. It isn’t always about lesbians all the time, but about an important human right that lesbians went on to earn. It will get a lot, lot longer as a subsection in the next government because that’s when marriage equality finally succeeds. The previous sections have already been updated as I chased down references to verify facts for this one. Research is so much fun that way.

Marriage equality

The push for the legal recognition of same-sex couples, either through the recognition of de facto common law couples or through marriage depending in which camp activists belong, started in the late 1980s.  Some of this was a natural extension of same-sex couples, both gays and lesbians, seeking legal solutions to protect and get recognition for their relationships and finding institutional barriers for basic things like the ability to have joint checking accounts or giving the other partner pension benefits they acquired during their working life following their death.

Lesbians sought rights comparable to their opposite-sex counterparts in the broader framework of relationships despite Spanish political activities and would sometimes try to use the courts to assert their desire for rights. This was true in the case of pension rights in this period. A lesbian couple from Andalucía became involved in 1984. They did everything they could since they were involved to legally bind themselves to each other. This included having joint checking accounts, listing both their names on a vehicle they owned and making sure they were listed as cohabitants. They registered as a de facto couple in 2000, as marriage and civil unions were not yet legally available. In 2002, one member of the couple died and in December of that year, she filed a claim with Spanish Social Security to try to collect a widow’s pension. The claim was denied as the state did not recognize her as being legally married. The rejection kick started a long legal process. The woman claimed she was discriminated against because of her orientation at the High Court of Justice of Andalusia, but they rejected the claim. She appealed to the Constitutional Court in February 2005. Her appeal was suspended in 2008 pending the result of a similar case. In June 2014, the Constitutional Court finally dismissed her appeal and denied her the right to a pension.

The first male gay couple tried to apply for a marriage license in Spain in 1987 when Josep Teixidor and Jesús Lozano submitted an application at the Civil Registry of Vic, Barcelona to try to address the legal vacuum of same-sex relationships. In response to a rejection of the license of an application by a judge in Solsona, around 4,000 gays and lesbians showed up to protest on 3 October 1987 in Plaza Mayor in Vic.  This protest was the largest of its kind in Spain at that time for gay and lesbian rights outside a major city.  One of the chants at this protest was “Between the windows, there are also lesbians and behind the balconies there are also maricones.”[1]  El País wrote about their efforts, with the first sentence of the article saying, “Marriage between gays and lesbians has not yet been recognized anywhere in the world, but it has defenders. The authors of this article call for the recognition and equalization of rights – the application of the principle of equality – for all stable couples, be they homo, hetero or bisexuals.”[2]

LGB organizations were beginning to express their opinions on this topic by the end of the decade. In 1989, both CLFM and COGAM were opposed to same-sex marriage; instead, they supported civil unions and recognition of parejas de hecho or de facto couples instead.


[1] Spanish: Entre las ventanas también hay lesbianas y detrás de los balcones también hay maricones.

[2] Spanish: El matrimonio entre gays o lesbianas no ha sido reconocido todavía en ningún lugar del mundo, pero tiene defensores. Los autores de este artículo reclaman el reconocimiento y equiparación de derechos -la aplicación del principio de igualdad- para todas las parejas estables, sean homo, hetero o bixesuales.

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