By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
PORTUGAL, January 27, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The leader of Portugal’s ruling Socialist Party, Jose Socrates, has announced his support for homosexual “marriage," sparking controversy and protest throughout the country and within the Socialist Party (PS) itself.
"This is the moment for the PS, in its national congress, to affirm its desire to propose to Portuguese society the right to civil marriage for people of the same sex," he said in a political speech in the Belem Cultural Center.
"As far as I know, after doing this in our country, we won’t be the last to do so," he added. "I also want to say that the values that inspire us when we propose this change to the Portuguese people are the values that have always been in the heart of the PS."
However, Mario Soares, former President of Portugal and a founder of the Socialist Party, reacted negatively to Socrates’ comments, stating that "homosexual marriages are complicated questions of conscience ... but there are certain radicals who want to move forward [with it] to show that they are leftist."
"If it were in my hands, I would act with more prudence to end social inequalities and give more prestige to work, to workers and to unions," he added.
Socialist Youth leader Duarte Cordeiro in turn blasted Soares for downplaying homosexual “marriage,” stating that "in relation to this issue, in my opinion and the opinion of young socialists, [Mario Soares] is deceived. It’s a fundamental issue for the left and I don’t think it is radicalism."
The Secretary of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Portugal, P. Manuel Morujao, defended the uniqueness of the family but objected only weakly to the proposal, even advocating that homosexual unions be legalized as they are in Britain, but without the name "marriage" attached to them.
"Our structural identity is a value to cultivate," wrote Morujao. "Identity is not question of choice. I am not a man or a women by choice. I am also my body and with it I must deepen my psychological, affective, and relational identity. It seems to me a serious anthropological error to equalize a homosexual union with marriage and family."
"I recall the case of England, which found a legal framework for a stable union between two people of the same sex, with certain rights, for example at the level of taxes and inheritance," he wrote. "Do all of that, but without giving the name and the status of ‘marriage’ and ‘family.’”
While Morujao’s response was less than satisfying to Portugal’s many Catholics, the teaching of the Catholic Church officially condemns homosexual sexual relations as intrinsically evil, and homosexual attraction as an intrinsic disorder.