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HELSINKI, Finland, February 23, 2015 ( — The president of Finland has signed into law the same-sex “marriage” bill that squeaked through the Finnish Parliament by a vote of 105 to 92 in November.

President Sauli Niinistö signed the bill on February 20 but the legislation won't come into effect until March 1, 2017, making Finland the last Scandinavian country to change its marriage definition to include same-sex partnerings.

Although Finland created same-sex civil partnerships in 2002, it had retained the traditional definition of marriage and restricted adoption of children to couples in natural marriage.

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The new law, which now also gives homosexual couples the right to adopt children, had been endorsed by the head of the Finnish Lutheran Church, touching off heavy backlash and a mass exodus from the official state church.

One day after the vote in Parliament and its endorsement by Kari Mäkinen, the Lutheran Archbishop of Turku and Finland, almost 8,000 people officially resigned from the state-supported Lutheran Church, citing disapproval of the archbishop’s support for same sex “marriage.”