The Constitutional Court of Portugal has upheld a ban on same-sex marriage, denying the claim of two women who demanded the right to wed.
The court said its five judges ruled 3-2 against an appeal lodged by the women two years ago. Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, divorced mothers in their 30s who have been together as a couple since 2003, were turned away by a Lisbon registry office when they attempted to marry in 2006 because the law stipulates that marriage is between people of different genders. Portugal’s constitution, however, also forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. The women took the case to a Lisbon court, which rejected their unprecedented challenge. After considering their appeal against that decision, the Constitutional Court said in a statement posted on its Web site that the constitution does not state that same-sex marriages must be permitted. The court said the question before it was not whether the constitution allows same-sex marriages, but whether the constitution compels them to be accepted, which it does not.
The women plan to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.