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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Gay Marriage, in Church: Denmark Next?

Last year, Sweden approved full marriage equality, including church weddings if desired, for gay and lesbian couples. Up to now, this has been the only country where it has been possible for same sex couples to have a full religious wedding in a major denomination, and have it recognized by the state. (The other countries which recognize gay marriage, do so only for civil marriages.) However, support for full religious marriage has been building steadily, among voters and in some of the churches themselves. It now seems likely that Denmark will soon follow Sweden's example. This is not surprising - they have similar religious traditions, and similar social outlooks. Denmark was the first country in the world to approve civil unions, but has been slow to convert to full marriage. However, 1997 the bishops approved church "blessings" of civil unions, as long as the words "husband" and "wife" were omitted, so there's not a long way to go.

Now the government is considering a proposal to go he whole way, and allow full religious weddings. With almost two thirds of voters expressing support for the measure, and six out of ten bishops also ready to agree, it looks like an open goal just waiting for the final push.

Apart from the obvious impact for the Danes themselves, there are two important implications for the rest of us. It provides further evidence of steady growth in support by voters, thus increasing the pressure on the remaining countries of the EU to folllow suit; and it shows that even religious leaders are accepting that there is at least room for dissenting interpretations of the old clobber texts in Scripture. The more we see major religious groups like the ECLA, Episcopalians, Swedish and Danish Lutherans conducting gay marriages, the more difficult it becomes for the religious right to persuade moderate voters that religion "demands" gay exclusion

From AFP:
Two thirds of Danes back gay Church weddings

Nearly two thirds of Danes support a call to allow gay and lesbian couples to be married by the Church, a poll showed Wednesday.
Denmark was the world's first country to allow a civil union for homosexuals, in 1989, but its parliament is now split over a move by the centre-left opposition to amend the law to allow religious weddings too.
The minister for religion Birthe Roenn Hornbech has urged lawmakers to think the question through in-depth before reaching any decision.
But according to a poll published by the Christian daily Kristelig Dagbladet on Wednesday, 63 percent of the Danish population would be happy to see gay couples married at the altar.
A quarter of respondents said they would oppose the move, while 12 percent gave no opinion, according to the Capacent Research poll of 1,304 people carried out of March 5.
Separately, the Berlingske Tidende daily found that six out of 10 bishops with the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church would agree to see gay couples make their vows in Church.

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