COPENHAGEN, DENMARK, June 7, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) –  The nation of Denmark has voted to force churches in the established Evangelical Lutheran Church to perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies inside their sanctuaries, although one-third of all the denomination’s priests say they will not participate in such rituals.

Danish parliament voted by an overwhelming 85-24 margin to compel churches to carry out unions for same-sex couples that are identical to heterosexual marriage celebrations.

The law takes effect June 15.

Since 1997, homosexuals have been able to get “married” in a blessing ceremony after the normal church service.

Under the new law, priests may opt out of performing the “wedding” service for theological reasons.  However, a bishop must arrange for a replacement.

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The bill’s prime sponsor – Denmark’s church minister Manu Sareen, who is an agnostic – called the vote “historic.”

“I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married,” he said.

The Danish People’s Party opposed the legislation. “Marriage is as old as man himself, and you can’t change something as fundamental,” said Christian Langballe, the party’s church spokesperson.

Former politician Stig Elling said it was “positive” that “there are so many priests and bishops who are in favour of it.”

“We have moved forward,” he said. “It’s 2012.” 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark has been Denmark’s official state church since 1849.

The passage of the Danish bill comes as pro-family activists the world over are warning that the homosexualist agenda is threatening the basic freedoms of religious believers all across the West.

Although the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from dictating church doctrine, religious institutions have already been subjected to government censure or private lawsuits if they refuse to allow homosexual couples to rent their facilities for a ceremony that deeply offends the church’s core doctrines of marriage and family.

The city of Hutchinson, Kansas, recently adopted a non-discrimination statute that would require houses of worship that rent their facilities to the public to allow same-sex “marriages” on the premises.

“If a church has a parish hall that they rent out to the general public, they could not discriminate against a gay couple who want to rent the building for a party” such as a same-sex ceremony or reception, according to a city FAQ about the ordinance.

Jacksonville, Florida, is currently considering a similar ordinance.

In January, Judge Solomon Metzger ruled a New Jersey Christian retreat house affiliated with the United Methodist Church could not refuse to rent its premises out for a homosexual “wedding.”