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Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Unanimous: Iceland OK's Equal Marriage

The Althingi parliament voted 49 to zero to change the wording of marriage legislation to include matrimony between "man and man, woman and woman," in addition to unions between men and women.

Iceland, a socially tolerant island nation of about 320,000 people, became the first country to elect an openly gay head of state in 2009 when Social Democrat Johanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister after being nominated by her party.

"The attitude in Iceland is fairly pragmatic," said Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland. "It (gay marriage) has not been a big issue in national politics -- it's not been controversial."

The prime minister's sexual orientation garnered far more interest among foreign media than in Iceland, where the attitude toward homosexuality has grown increasingly relaxed in the past two or three decades, Kristinsson added.
On Top:
Forty-nine of the country's 63 members of the Althingi parliament voted in favor of the law. The remainder abstained.  The legislation is groundbreaking in that it does not alter marriage to a gender-neutral institution, but instead includes “man and man” and “woman and woman” among the definitions of marriage.

The bill was introduced on March 23 and couples are expected to marry as early as this month. Marriage will replace Iceland's system of registered partnerships for gay and lesbian couples first enacted in 1996.

The legislation goes to President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson for his signature. Reports indicate the president will sign the bill into law.
And in Portugal, whose equal-marriage law came into effect last month, Agence France-Presse reports:
Teresa Paixao (L) and her partner Helena Pires smile at each other as they get married at a government's registry office in Lisbon June 7, 2010. Paixao and Pires is the first same-sex couple in Portugal to wed following the introduction of a law in May allowing gay marriage. REUTERS/Hugo Correia (PORTUGAL - Tags: SOCIETY)The first gay marriage in Portugal was celebrated Monday as a lesbian couple exchanged vows in a civil ceremony, one week after a law allowing same-sex unions went into force.

The divorced women, Helena Paixao, 40, and Teresa Pires, 33, were married in Lisbon before about 30 people.

The lesbians, who have two daughters from previous marriages and have been together for eight years, were also the first gay couple to submit a request to be married back in 2006, which launched the debate on legalising homosexual unions in Portugal, a predominantly Catholic country.

Same-sex marriage map of Europe (click here for the Wikipedia article): dark blue = equal marriage; medium blue = registered partnerships; yellow = under discussion; gray = not recognized; red = constitutional prohibition.

Canada and South Africa also recognize equal marriage nationwide.  New Zealand has civil unions, and Australian states extend limited rights to same-sex couples either through registered partnerships or unwed cohabition.


Tom said...

I think I should move to Iceland!

Russ Manley said...

If only it was warm like Bermuda . . . .

dave said...

Shows there's a lot of intelligent folks across the water...

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