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Spain, Will you marry me?

With great wine, flamenco, progressive politicians, and now gay marriage, Spain is surpassing France as the coolest European country by far.
 
 
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How cool are the Spaniards? Let me count the ways. First, they respond practically and effectively to terrorist attacks by throwing out the President that brought them into the war in Iraq and bringing in the anti-war socialist José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Second, in February, they embrace the communitarian spirt and join the European Union with a shrug of their fashionable shoulders. Next, they pass Europe's first law that acknowledges gender-based violence and cracks down on domestic abuse. Then, today, the predominantly Catholic country becomes only the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. The Spanish law, which becomes effective immediately, allows gay couples all the rights of heterosexual couples.

In announcing the vote, Zapatero said ""We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality." Now, when President Bush talks about "freedom and equality" he's usually talking about our continued military occupation of Iraq and I get a little nausous. But leave it to Europe's coolest country to put the "free" back in "freedom" and send shivers down my spine.

Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.