Spain Finds New Way to Push for Gender Equality

MADRID -- Spain's reform-minded Socialist government wants to erase male bias in the country's double-barrel last names.

Spaniards have two last names, and under current law the first comes from the father and the second from the mother.

But a new bill presented to Parliament would let couples registering newborn babies put the mother's surname first.

If the couple does not specify an order or cannot agree on one, the names would be assigned in alphabetical order.

Ruling Socialist Party spokesman Jose Antonio Alonso told reporters Thursday there is no good reason for the father's name to come first automatically and the change will be more 'egalitarian.'

Opposition conservatives called the change an unnecessary reform no one is seeking and vowed to fight it in the legislature.