Editorial | One nation, without God

The right to marry in church is a good step towards giving homosexuals equal status, but requiring that all marriages start as civil unions would be a better start

Scandic has 230 hotels in seven countries (photo: iStock)
June 14th, 2012 12:38 am| by admin
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

When the  debate about homosexual marriages cropped up last year around this time, polls showed that the majority of Danes – 69 percent – favoured equal marriage rights regardless of sexual orientation. Bishops were slightly more sceptical, but the majority – 60 percent – said same-sex couples should also have the right to be wed in the Church of Denmark. 

With the people and the clergy behind it, it is only natural that the legislature, now in the hands of a progressive-minded government, was pushed through last week to approve gay marriages

Among those applauding the measure were certainly many homosexuals couples who were finally granted the same religious freedom heterosexual couples enjoy. Others were probably pleased simply because it kicked down one more discriminatory door.  

But while some homosexuals were cheering, it isn’t certain they all were. Polls among homosexuals themselves last year showed an even greater split in attitudes than among the population as a whole. 

For many, the idea of being recognised in the eyes of the state institution was attractive, but many also said they were turned off by a debate about the rights of homosexuals in the Church of Denmark that they felt was dominated by right-orientated, conservative ministers who are overly focused on marriage. The sentiment seemed to be if they don’t want us, then we don’t want them either.

With the passage of the law permitting same-sex marriage, the clergy has in all haste composed a new marriage rite for homosexual ceremonies devoid of any of the Biblical references to marriage as an institution involving a man and a woman. The question then is whether the existence of two different rites will have some people, particularly among the most conservative groups, viewing the homosexual unions as unequal to heterosexual marriages. 

Rather than trying to force equality on the church, equality-minded lawmakers here in Denmark should have looked to France, where couples must register with their council authorities prior to being allowed to wed in the church. 

Applying the same thinking in Denmark could have made civil unions the marital standard for all – regardless of sexual preference, creed or nationality. Those that chose to garnish their nuptials with a religious ceremony would still have had a free hand to do so, but whether they chose to do so or not wouldn’t have left them with a martial status that was any more or less worthy in the eyes of the state or society as a whole. 

Sit back and hope for the best (photo: istock)
Bid and overbid
  The election campaign started a long time ago. Everyone knew that...
Flea's a Cloud? (Photo: iStock)
How to negotiate a Danish institution: the flea market
Jake and I regularly have fun sifting through treasures at car boot sales. ...
IMG_5268
Blink and you would swear the Man in Black is back
"We got married in a fever ..." I wake up with this tune bouncing around m...
Scandic has 230 hotels in seven countries (photo: iStock)
Scandic Hotels primed for IPO
According to Frank Fiskers, the Danish CEO of Scandic Hotels, the Swedish c...
Constanze Rassmann is over the moon about the discovery (photo: Museum Midtjylland)
Bronze Age find in Jutland considered significant
The five large Bronze Age axes recently found in Nørre Snede in Jutland ha...
Functions will be absorbed into other hospitals (photo: iStock)
Two hospitals to close in north Jutland
Two hospitals in North Jutland – in Dronninglund and Nykøbing Mors – w...