Denmark has reasserted its leadership in LGBT rights this week. Lesbian and gay couples in Denmark now have full marriage rights, including the right conduct marriage ceremonies in the Evangelical Lutheran church (i.e. the Church of Denmark) of their choice. The legislation, though strongly opposed by some church leaders and the far-right Danish People’s Party, passed with 77% support in the Danish Parliament. Individual priests may still refuse to officiate at a wedding, and a poll indicated that a third of Danish priests may do just that. This provision effectively preempts legal challenges alleging that the law infringes on a priest’s freedom of religion. However, the local bishop would be required to find a priest to perform the ceremony.
Roughly 80% of Danes belong (at least nominally) to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Of the church’s eleven bishops in Denmark, ten have expressed support for the measure. The law does not require non-state churches to perform the ceremonies.
Iceland and Sweden also extend church wedding rights to lesbian and gay couples. Pending timely assent by Queen Margrethe II, the law will go into effect on June 15th, 2012.
(Note: an earlier version of this post indicated that the law applies to all churches in Denmark. This error was corrected on July 26, 2012)