Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sweden Goes Marriage Equal

No fooling from Sweden on April Fools Day, 2009. The Riksdag (parliament) there overwhelmingly passed same-sex marriage today. The vote was 261 in favor and 22 against.

Sweden has had registered domestic partnerships since 1995.

Today's vote was remarkable in a few ways. Six of the seven parties in government supported the change. The one that did not, Christian Democrats, groused a bit. In December, their chairman, Göran Hägglund, (who is also health and social affairs minister) held hope for a compromise. That's the norm for a coalition government there.

The change takes effect next month. Sweden will keep partnerships, but those in them can convert them to marriage by a ceremony or written application.

The law permits clergy to refuse to conduct same-sex ceremonies. About three-quarters of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden (Lutheran). That church has blessed civil unions for years, while reserving the term marriage for opposite-sex unions it conducts. Almost certainly, it will include same-sex union in that definition shortly.

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