Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to recognise same-sex marriage, becoming the fifth country in Europe to do so. Sweden was one of the first countries to give gay couples legal "partnership" rights, in the mid-1990s, and allowed them to adopt children from 2002. The new law lets homosexuals wed in either a civil or religious ceremony, though individual churches can opt out. The law was passed by 226 votes to 22 and will come into force on 1 May.
Norway legalized gay marriage, officially, on January 1st, making it the 6th nation in the world to do so.
In other good news:
"In a unanimous decision, the Iowa Supreme Court today held that the Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution"
Andrew Sullivan makes a succinct point on the matter here. Thanks to Slog for the link.
Bittersweet news from Vermont:
The Vermont House of Representatives approved a bill legalizing gay marriage Thursday, a divisive measure that now faces a veto from the state's governor.
The Democratic-controlled house voted 95-52 in favor of the bill, which had already cleared the state Senate in a 26-4 vote. The state's Republican governor, James Douglas, says he now plans to veto it.
Good news from Maine:
And good news from New Hampshire:
With just over three weeks to go before a hearing on a gay marriage bill in the Maine Legislature, both proponents and those opposed to the measure are urging people to contact their local legislator.
LD 1020, "An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom," will be heard before the Joint Judiciary Committee on April 24. So many people are expected to attend the hearing that it is being held at Cony High School in Augusta instead of the Statehouse.The bill seeks to give homosexuals the right to marry legally in Maine.
After two days of debating, the New Hampshire House voted for gay marriage 186 to 179 after first voting against it, 183 to 182.It's only a matter of time at this point. This shouldn't be about winning and losing, it should (and is) about human beings trying to get the equal rights to which so many people are already entitled. Having said that, the social conservatives are losing (and will continue to lose) this fight.
The first vote against equal marriage was so close that a representative asked for it to be reconsidered. After a few minutes of intense personal lobbying on the floor, it passed.
The bill next advances to the state Senate. Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, is opposed to gay marriage, though he has not indicated whether he would veto the bill.
New Hampshire approved civil unions two years ago and were signed into law by Lynch; they went into effect last year.