Church weddings for gays proposed
From the Copenhagen Post, 23.11.11;
Government will ensure that homosexual couples can have religious wedding ceremonies after striking agreement with church
Homosexual church marriages could become a reality by next summer if a bill giving them equal status with heterosexual unions passes parliament.
“It’s historic, it’s the biggest thing since female ministers were allowed in the Folkekirken,” Manu Sareen (Radikale), the church and equality minister, told the media today.
After years of opposition to granting homosexual unions the same status as heterosexual unions, Folkekirken bishops are developing a new wedding rite that will enable vicars to wed homosexuals.
“I think that most people in the Folkekirken are happy that there is finally a political decision on which way to proceed,” the bishop of Copenhagen, Peter Skov-Jakobsen, told Politiken.
“But I also think there are some people who will be disappointed that the distinction between marriage and partnership will disappear.”
In 2010 the the Church Ministry established a committee to examine the Folkekirken’s position on registered partnerships of homosexual couples.
A subsequent report found that 11 out of the 12 committee members thought that marriage between a man and woman, and a partnership between two individuals of the same sex, were two different things.
They also found that having a gender-neutral marriage would result in a “strangely abstract view of humans”.
The new angle taken requires a change to marriage law followed by a new wedding rite that can accommodate homosexuals by addressing them as ‘spouses’ (ægtefælle) as opposed to the traditional and gender-specific ‘husband and wife’ (ægtepar).
The term that married homosexuals can call themselves has been a topic of controversy, with prominent homosexuals arguing that only a gender-neutral marriage would afford homosexual unions the same rights as heterosexuals unions.
“We are lacking the same rights as homosexuals in a range of areas and I’m convinced that if such a proposal was brought up in parliament it would be supported by a majority,” author Bjarne Henrik Lundis told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Gender-neutral marriages have already been introduced in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, Spain and Portugal.
The move has been welcomed by homosexual rights group LGBT Danmark, however.
“It’s more than we had ever hoped for,” chairman Vivi Jelstrup told Politiken. “Words mean so much and not being able to call yourself spouses today is a sign of inequality.”