The 350-seat Congress of Deputies, by a vote of 187-147 with four abstentions, approved the measure to give homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual ones, including the right to adopt children.
After the tally was announced, activists watching from the spectator section of the ornate chamber cried, cheered, hugged each other, waved to lawmakers and blew them kisses.
Oscar-winning Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar, who is gay, said 21st century families don't have to reflect the traditional Catholic model. "I don't like marriage. I am not going to get married," he said. "But it is important for this to be called marriage so people know that it is the same thing for everyone."
"It is necessary to oppose these unfair laws through all legitimate means," a [Spanish Bishops Conference] statement said, alluding to its hint last month that town hall officials who oppose gay marriage should refuse to preside over such ceremonies.
Some 80 percent of Spaniards consider themselves Catholic. However, polls say nearly half the country's Catholics rarely go to Mass, and a third say they are simply not religious.
Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy said Zapatero has deeply divided Spain and should have sought a consensus in parliament that recognized same-sex unions but didn't call them marriages. Rajoy said if the vast majority of countries don't accept gay marriage, there must be a reason.
Excerpts from "Spain 3rd Nation to Legalize Gay Marriage"
by Mar Roman, Associated Press Writer