Finland: Gender-neutral marriage law in the making

Sweden and Norway have had gender-neutral marriages laws for some time now, and in June, Iceland joined them. The first to get married under the new law was Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, as I noted last week. We still wait for Denmark.
Now, the debate accelerates even in Finland, that oh, so often shows conservative tendencies. Justice Minister Tuija Brax (Green Party) says she hopes that the law will be a part of the negociations when a new government will be formed after next year's Parliamentary elections and that the law will be in place in 2012. Of the larger parties, only the agrarian Center Party hasn't taken sides yet. Only the conservative Christian Democrats and the populistic True Finns are against, and all other Parliamentary parties would accept a law of this nature - with varying degrees of enthusiasm, of course. These parties are the conservative National Coalition, the Social Democrats, the social liberal Swedish People's Party (that I represent), and the postcommunistic Leftist League; there are eight parties in the Finnish Parliament at the moment.
A gender-neutral marriage law would not change the rights of opposite-sex couples, but same-sex couples would gain the right to e.g. take a common surname and to adopt children from outside their families ("external adoption", as it is called). The present registration of partnerships gives some of the rights that marriage gives, e.g. inheritance, some tax breaks and internal adoption, i.e. the right to adopt the other partner's children.
As to getting married in church ... well, that's some way off in the main churches in Finland. The law in question would not compel the churches to marry same-sex couples. My personal view is, of course, that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, where I serve, should start marrying all couples, but I'm afraid that still is a long way off. The Bishops' Council made a decision earlier this year that allows pastors to pray for same-sex couples, but not call it a blessing. This is, of course, a craven compromise. A comment in English here.
We'll have to wait and see what comes of all this. More disappointments, I fear.

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