Iceland passes gay marriage law in unanimous vote

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Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir answers questions at a news conference with foreign news media in Reykjavik, April 25, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Bob Strong

REYKJAVIK | Fri Jun 11, 2010 11:04am EDT

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland, the only country in the world to have an openly gay head of state, passed a law on Friday allowing same-sex partners to get married in a vote which met with no political resistance.

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.

Iceland's protestant church has yet to decide whether to allow same-sex marriages in church, although the law says "ministers will always be free to perform (gay) marriage ceremonies, but never obliged to."

The largely protestant countries of northern Europe, including Sweden, Norway and Denmark, have all endorsed some form of civil union between same-sex couples, but the issue creates more controversy in Mediterranean Catholic nations.

In the United States, gay marriage remains a frought political issue, with laws varying widely from state to state. Vermont was the first state to allow same-sex civil unions in 1999, followed by Massachusetts and Connecticut and others.

(Reporting Birna Bjornsdottir and Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Noah Barkin)


Jun 11, 2010 11:42am EDT

Don’t think its a good time to disobey GOD’s commandments, especialy when They have Volcanoes erupting on that Island.
Now watch the other Big Volcanoe Erupt
and cover the Whole island in ASH.

Moses_10 Report As Abusive
Jun 11, 2010 11:53am EDT

there’s nothing in the “commandments” about gays or marriage. if you’re going to used the Bible, please use it correctly.

upplrsad Report As Abusive
Jun 11, 2010 11:56am EDT

Kudos to Iceland.

Onward to equality and fairness,
Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
Washington, Connecticut, USA.

And kudos to CT, most of New England, Iowa, DC, many EU countries, and other cities and countries around the world.

It’s time.

CornetMustich Report As Abusive
Jun 11, 2010 12:05pm EDT

I wish all christians would start obeying the commandments. There are only ten of them and I dare say that the Icelandic people adhere to more of them than many so-called christians in the USA.
You should read them sometime. You will find that “Love thy neighbour” is one of them and “Don’t marry same-sex” is NOT.

technl Report As Abusive
Jun 11, 2010 12:28pm EDT

“Don’t think its a good time to disobey GOD’s commandments, especialy when They have Volcanoes erupting on that Island.
Now watch the other Big Volcanoe Erupt
and cover the Whole island in ASH.”

That’s because your God is a vindictive
idiot who should and will be ignored.

minneapolitian Report As Abusive
Jun 11, 2010 12:35pm EDT says: “Congratulations to all LGBT’s in Iceland who can now marry.”

Ringbearer Report As Abusive
Jun 11, 2010 2:17pm EDT

Editor: Johanna Sigurdardottir is not the head of state of Iceland, she’s the head of the government.

The head of state is Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Please fix this.

sfmke64 Report As Abusive
Jun 11, 2010 4:38pm EDT

FYI– Volcanos aren’t a plague. They cool the atmosphere and provide nutrients to the soil. If Iceland were “covered” in it, the effect on agriculture would be profoundly… good!!! :-{D} And if the vlocano erupts with lava, that just means more real estate, a gift only God can give freely!!! :-)

Jokiex Report As Abusive
Jun 11, 2010 5:36pm EDT

i see you your volcano and raise you a bp spill on fire.

(those of you not afraid of armageddon, i recommend going to see the northern side of the very scary volcano in this fearfully progressive nation where people live appallingly serene lives fraught with egalitarian spirit amidst terrifyingly stunning landscapes.)

amb Report As Abusive
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