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Friday, June 13, 2008
Norway Parliament Approves Gay Marriage
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(Oslo) The gallery at the Norwegian Parliament erupted in applause and cheers on Wednesday with the passage of legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry.
The law also recognizes both partners in a marriage as equal parents and gives lesbian couples the same access to "medically assisted reproduction" as opposite-sex couples.
Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve the bill, despite opposition from the Christian Democrats and Progress Party.
"It is a historic day," said Labor Party member Gunn Karin Gjul who compared passage to universal suffrage which gave women the right to vote nearly a century ago.
Socialist Left Party leader Kristin Halvorsen, who serves as Finance Minister in the coalition government said the law will ensure "'equal rights" and bar all forms of discrimination.
The country already allowed gay and lesbian couples to enter into civil partnerships, but LGBT rights groups had long complained the law did not go far enough and had created two classes of citizenship - one for heterosexuals the other for gays.
The new law amends the definition of civil marriage to make it gender neutral.
Under the law the Church of Norway would be allowed to bless same-sex marriages.
About 85 percent of Norway's 4.7 million people are registered as members of the state Lutheran Church of Norway, although far fewer are active.
The church is split on the issue of gay marriage, and is likely to allow each congregation to decide whether to conduct homosexual weddings, as it did last year in allowing parishes to decide whether to accept clergymen living in gay partnerships.
Passage of the law makes Norway the sixth country in the world to approve same-sex marriages
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