As many readers will know, Iceland recently approved new conjugal laws that put gay and lesbian couples on par with straight people when it comes to marriage.
That new law takes effect today and as far as I know there is at least one wedding planned and Samtökin 78, the Gay and Lesbian union in Iceland, are holding a “rainbow service” in Fríkirkjan this evening.
It’s been a long time coming. Iceland passed a law in 1996 that allowed gays and lesbians to enter into confirmed cohabitation, which gave them many of the same rights as married straight couples. Subsequent amendments allowed them to adopt, lesbian couples to undergo assisted pregnancies, etc. However, they did not have the right to be married in the National Church, or the right to use the official term “married” — until now.
It’s been a hot potato issue and very controversial within the church. The Bishop over Iceland, Hr. Karl Sigurbjörnsson, yesterday apologized publicly to gays and lesbians for a comment that he made in an interview in 2006, where he said that allowing gays and lesbians to marry was akin to “trashing” the institution of marriage. A great number of ministers in the church openly opposed this view and lobbied for the law to be changed — which was finally done a couple of weeks ago.
And so, this is a happy day for gays and lesbians in Iceland. For myself, I am delighted and proud to live in such an open-minded and liberal society. Til hamingju með daginn samkynhneigðir!