Iceland passes freedom to marry law in unanimous vote

Reported by Birna Bjornsdottir, Nicholas Vinocur and Noah Barkin for

"The Althingi parliament voted 49 to zero to change the wording of marriage legislation to include matrimony between 'man and man, woman and woman,' in addition to unions between man and woman.

"Iceland, a socially tolerant island nation of about 320,000 people, became the first country to elect an openly gay head of state in 2009 when Social Democrat Johanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister after being nominated by her party.

"'The attitude in Iceland is fairly pragmatic,' said Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland. 'It [the freedom to marry] has not been a big issue in national politics -- it's not been controversial.'

"The prime minister's sexual orientation garnered far more interest among foreign media than in Iceland, where the attitude toward homosexuality has grown increasingly relaxed in the past two or three decades, Kristinsson added.

"Iceland's protestant church has yet to decide whether to perform marriages for same-sex couples in church, although the law says "ministers will always be free to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, but never obliged to."

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