Church bells to ring for gays and lesbians – The Post

Church bells to ring for gays and lesbians

Helle Thorning-Schmidt announced yesterday that same-sex marriages would become legal starting in June

March 14th, 2012 10:57 am| by admin

Wedding planners across the nation are likely to be working overtime this summer, as Denmark is set to pass a law allowing gays and lesbians to wed in Danish churches and at city hall beginning on June 15.

Denmark has long been considered a pioneer in defending the rights of the gay and lesbian community, and has recognised same-sex civil unions since 1989. Now, for the first time, gays and lesbians will also be allowed to get married.

“We have looked at two laws that will provide the gay and lesbian community the opportunity to get married in the church and at city hall,” Thorning-Schmidt said at a press conference yesterday.

Thorning-Schmidt specified that it would be up to individual priests to decide whether or not they will wed gay and lesbian couples. According to the chairman of the Priests Association, Per Bucholdt Andreasen, about 70 percent of the association's 2,000 priests are willing to accommodate them.

“The administration and I firmly believe that this is a natural step to take in a modern society like Denmark,” Thorning-Schmidt said. “The law will go into effect on June 15, so already this summer we’ll see the first gays and lesbians getting married in Danish churches.”

While some may already be dusting off their suits and dresses, there may be a slight hitch in the proceedings.

According to an article in Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper, there is a distinct possibility that if couples who have already entered into civil unions wish to wed in the church, they may first have to nullify their existing union. This is something that annoys Star Tour’s sales director Stig Elling, who is planning on walking down the aisle on June 15.

“The word divorce carries negative connotations, and legally it could have consequences in case something happens to one of us during the six months it takes to process the divorce and remarry,” Elling, who is in a civil union, told Kristeligt Dagblad. “ As it stands, we can get a blessing from the church, but that’s not what we want.”

Historically, Denmark has been a trailblazer for gay and lesbian rights and was the first country in the world to allow same-sex civil unions in 1989.