March 15, 2012
By Jacob Combs
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the center-left prime minister of Denmark, announced this week that his government plans to introduce draft legislation that will bring marriage equality to the country on June 15. From BNO News:
Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex unions in 1989 but, despite a generally tolerant society towards homosexuality, politicians repeatedly rejected bills to legalize same-sex marriage. The previous Danish government also rejected a same-sex marriage bill last year.
But Thorning said the Danish government will submit a draft legislation on Wednesday which will allow same-sex couples to get married at both City Hall and the Church of Denmark if they find a priest who is willing to perform the wedding. Although some church leaders have spoken out against same-sex marriage, previous surveys have suggested that as many as 70 percent of priests are willing to marry same-sex couples.
Thorning-Schmidt called the bill “a big step forward” and a “natural” progresion for her country. After the introduction of the civil union bill in 1989, gay couples in Denmark enjoyed the same rights as straght couples, but were not allowed to be married in a religious ceremony. In 1997, the Church of Denmark allowed religious leaders to bless gay unions and in 2009, gay couples won the right to adopt children.
The legislation is expected to pass, making Denmark the 11th country with marriage equality. The other 10 are Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden.