The Danish Folketing has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a full ecclesiastical marriage service in the national Evangelical-Lutheran church for homosexual couples, to be instituted as a full, official marriage equal to that of heterosexual couples.
After a lengthy and sometimes heated debate, which ran some three hours over its expected time, 85 members voted in favour of the law, 24 against and with two abstentions.
Homosexuals in Denmark have not hitherto been able to enter into marriage, but only into registered partnerships. The new law means that homosexual couples can choose whether to be married in church or at a town hall.
Both the Liberal and Conservative parties removed their party whips for Thursday’s vote due to internal differences, leaving the decision to their individual members’ convictions.
Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs Manu Sareen (SocLib), who has used much of his ministerial tenure to develop and defend the proposal, says the parliamentary decision is historic.
“This is along the lines of when we got women priests. I am really happy. It is something all three government parties have wanted for many years,” Sareen says.
The Danish People’s Party was the only party to vote against the Bill as a party. Ecclesiastical Affairs Spokesman Christian Langballe, himself a theologian and vicar, says that ‘marriage is as old as human beings’ and that something so fundamental cannot be changed.
With the law now passed, homosexuals are expected to be able to marry in church from June 15, although it will be up to vicars whether they are willing to carry out a marriage service for homosexuals.
Denmark’s bishops are to present proposals for a marriage ceremony to Sareen on Monday.
FACEBOOK – Follow Politiken’s News in English
Edited by Julian Isherwood