Norway Moves To Legalize Gay Marriage
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: March 14, 2008 - 11:00 am ET
(Oslo) The Norwegian government on Friday
introduced legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry and have joint custody
The country already allows gay and lesbian
couples to enter into civil partnerships, but LGBT rights groups have long
complained the law does not go far enough and has created two classes of
citizenship - one for heterosexuals the other for gays.
The new legislation amends the definition of
civil marriage to make it gender neutral.
It also says that when a lesbian who is married
to another women becomes pregnant through in vitro the partner will have all the
rights of parenthood "from the moment of conception".
The legislation additionally states that in cases
of adoption, both partners, gay or lesbian, would have complete joint parenting
Family Issues minister Anniken Huitfeldt in
introducing the bill called it "an historic step towards
She also had a message for some members of
Parliament who claimed the bill would weaken tradition marriage.
"The new law won't weaken marriage as an
institution," Huitfeldt told Parliament. "Rather, it will strengthen
it. Marriage won't be worth less because more can take part in it."
Some members of the coalition government have
said they will vote against the measure. Parliament's second-largest bloc,
the Party of Progress, and the smaller Christian Democratic Party both
immediately said they would oppose the bill.
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 was 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.