Members of Parliament in Norway approved a bill that will allow same-sex couples to marry. The new law, which passed by 84 votes to 41, will make marriage gender neutral. The new legislation will replace a 1993 law that gives gays the right to enter civil unions similar to marriage, but refuses them the right to church weddings or to be considered as adoptive parents. As well as more equal partnership rights, it would expand the provision of parenting rights.
Family Issues minister Anniken Huitfeldt, introducing the bill in March, called it "an historic step towards equality." 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."
Norway joins Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa and Canada in granting gay people full marriage rights. Six countries now, and many to follow!