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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 43
Danish government will push for full marriage equality in 2012
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Danish government will push for full marriage equality in 2012

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Danish government will introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage early in 2012.

Danish Church Minister Manu Sareen said on October 24 that same-sex couples will 'hopefully' be able to marry by next spring.

'I look forward to the moment the first homosexual couple steps out of the church,' Sareen told the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

'I'll be standing out there throwing rice. I have many friends who are homosexuals and can't get married. They love their partners the same way heterosexuals do, but they don't have the right to live it out in the same way. That's really problematic.'

Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex 'registered partnerships' in 1989, but it has not yet legalized marriages.

The proposal from the center-left coalition government angered some Danish religious leaders.

The Lutheran Church is the state religion in Denmark, and church employees, including priests and bishops, are government employees. As church minister, Sareen is charged with managing the state church.

Sareen said that church employees opposed to the new law would be accommodated, but some priests opposed the proposed legislation.

'Lots of people are mistaken in thinking that homosexual weddings are just the next step after female priests,' said Henrik Højlund, a parish priest and chairman for the Evangelical Lutheran Network (ELN).

'But it is much more consequential and beyond the boundaries for normal Christianity.'

A May Jyllands-Posten poll showed that 75% of Danes support same-sex marriages through the church.

Religious leaders acknowledge public support for same-sex marriage and some have floated a potential compromise - a 'specific marriage ritual for homosexual couples.'

Denmark is a parliamentary democracy in which the coalition of parties that controls a majority in the parliament forms the government, and is almost certain to be able pass any law it proposes.

All Danish political parties are reportedly 'extremely gay friendly,' and many officials took part in preliminary discussions on same-sex marriage.

If and when the new marriage law passes, Denmark will become the eighth European country to establish marriage equality.

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