Denmark: Gay church weddings approved


Men kiss during the Stockholm Pride parade in central Stockholm on Aug. 6, 2011.



Denmark's Parliament has approved a law allowing same-sex couples to get married in formal Lutheran church weddings.

Same-sex couples no longer have to celebrate their unions with only the short blessing ceremonies the Lutheran church currently offers, reported the Associated Press. Danish lawmakers voted 85-24 on Thursday to change the country's marriage laws.

Denmark's church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote "historic," according to The Telegraph. Under the law, individual priests can refuse to perform a ceremony, but the local bishop is required to arrange a replacement for their church.

"I think it's very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married," Sareen said. "Today, it's only heterosexual couples."

The new law will come into effect June 15, putting it alongside Sweden and Iceland, both of which allow full wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples, reported Pink News

The far-right Danish People's Party has campaigned strongly against the new law, according to The Telegraph.

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"Marriage is as old as man himself, and you can't change something as fundamental," said the party's church spokesperson Christian Langballe. "Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman."

According to the AP, the current system of blessing ceremonies, which occur at the end of regular church services, has been marrying gay couples in Denmark since 1997. Denmark's current registration of gay partnerships was also the first of its kind when it was put into place in 1989.