COPENHAGEN, October 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Danish government is set to introduce a bill in early 2012 that will allow same-sex couples to hold weddings in the national state Church of Denmark and be “married” under Danish law, according to a Copenhagen Post report.

Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize homosexual civil partnerships in 1989. This legislation gave same-sex couples all the legal rights of a married man and woman, but stopped short of allowing same-sex “marriage” and church weddings.

“The first same-sex weddings will hopefully become reality in Spring 2012,” said Minister for Gender Equality and Ecclesiastical Affairs Manu Sareen, a Social Liberal, to the local Jyllands-Posten newspaper, according to the Post. “I look forward to the moment the first homosexual couple steps out of the church. I’ll be standing out there throwing rice.”

If the legislation passes Denmark will become the eighth European country to give homosexuals the right to “marry.”

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“I have many friends who are homosexuals and can’t get married. They love their partners the same way heterosexuals do, but they don’t have the right to live it out in the same way. That’s really problematic,” Sareen said.

“Today it would be unthinkable not to have female priests,” he added. “That’s how it will also be for same-sex weddings.”

The Church of Denmark is a state supported organization which all citizens are required to support through their taxes, yet fewer than 5% of the population attends church services. “This year alone,” the Copenhagen Post reports, “the Church of Denmark will receive an estimated 5.9 billion kroner ($1.1B US) in taxes from its registered members, plus additional tax-supported state subsidies amounting to 130 ($25 US) kroner for every single citizen, regardless of religious affiliation, sexual preference, or other beliefs.”

The bill from the left-of-centre government has caused concern, however, for Church of Denmark ministers and employees who disagree with the proposed legislation.

“Lots of people are mistaken in thinking that homosexual weddings are just the next step after female priests,” said Henrik Højlund, the parish priest for Løsning and Korning and chairman for the Evangelical Lutheran Network (ELN).

“But it is much more consequential and beyond the boundaries for normal Christianity,” Højlund told Jyllands-Posten. “The Church of Denmark is being secularized right up to the altar in a desperate and mistaken attempt to meet modern people halfway,” he said, adding he believed that same-sex “marriage” would be “fatal for the church.”

There is a wide general acceptance of homosexuality in Denmark, with recent polls showing 69 percent of the population supporting same-sex “marriage” in the state church. However, although the previous Social Liberal Danish government rejected bills to legalize same-sex “marriage” several times, in 2010 they caved in to a bill allowing homosexuals in legal civil partnerships to adopt children.

The Copenhagen Post report indicates that the new centre-left coalition government under Social Democrat Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt is likely to pass the same-sex “marriage” bill.

Contact information:

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister
The Prime Minister’s Office
Christiansborg
Prins Jørgens Gård 11
1218 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 33 92 33 00
Fax: +45 33 11 16 65