Iceland: Church blesses gay partnerships

The general synod of the Church of Iceland voted in October to allow priests to validate cohabitations between two members of the same sex, IceNews Network reports (31.10.07). This makes the Icelandic church one of the most liberal in the world in this matter. The church now waits for the parliament to change the law.
Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson is satisfied with the outcome of the decision which is perhaps the first of its kind. Although there was disagreement on the issue, Sigurbjörnsson said the congregation was able to reach a compromise.
The church had long debated the definition of marriage. Some members of the synod believe that marriage is a holy union between any two individuals while others maintain that marriage is a holy union between individuals of opposite sex only. As a compromise, the church has not changed the traditional heterosexual definition of a marriage. However, the church did allow same-sex relationships to receive some validation from the church.
Earlier this year, the priest synod of the Church of Iceland voted against a proposal regarding legalizing same-sex marriage in Iceland by 64 votes to 22. The blogger MadPriest reports this, quoting the Iceland Review (which seems to experience some technical difficulties at present).
"I’m ashamed on behalf of the State Church - and I know many priests agree with me - for the fact that the fight for gay and lesbian rights did not go further at this conference," Rev. Bjarni Karlsson told Fréttabladid.
"The priests don’t own the church; that is not the way it is. The church belongs to Jesus Christ and the church is formed by every congregation the country. So although this was rejected in one election, it is not the end," Karlsson said. "I believe all people, also those against gay rights, realize that our community and the church will eventually reach the maturity to respect all people, regardless of their sexual orientation."
See also:
Iceland: Homosexuality Finds New Acceptance (IPS 30.11.05)

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