by Rex Wockner
Norway’s government announced plans March 14 to open marriage to same-sex couples. The nation has had a registered-partnership law that gives gay couples the same rights as marriage since 1993.
The government’s minister of children and equality, Anniken Huitfeldt, said letting gay couples marry “won’t weaken marriage as an institution; rather, it will strengthen it.”
“Marriage won’t be worth less because more can take part in it,” she told Aftenposten.
The law would permit same-sex couples to marry in churches, adopt children and receive state-funded medical assistance in getting pregnant.
The bill is expected to pass Parliament before summer, although two government ministers — Minister of Local Government Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa and Transport Minister Liv Signe Navarsete — said they oppose the part that would fund assisted fertilization for lesbian couples.
The state Lutheran Church of Norway, which counts 85 percent of the population as members, is conflicted on same-sex marriage and likely will allow parishes to choose whether to perform gay weddings.
Full marriage is open to same-sex couples in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and Massachusetts. Numerous nations have civil-union or registered-partnership laws that grant same-sex couples some, most or all rights and obligations of marriage.