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June 18 , 2010

Iceland votes unanimously to allow full marriage

Reykjavik, Iceland--The island of Iceland is now the ninth country in the world with full same-sex marriage.

The nation’s parliament voted unanimously on June 11 to change marriage laws to explicitly include same-sex marriage. While most legal changes allowing gay nuptials simply remove the gender of the people involved, Iceland’s law, according to Reuters news agency, adds “man and man, woman and woman” to the law.

The country, whose population numbers just over 300,000, made history last year as the first nation with an openly gay head of state after the election of Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

Sigurdardottir’s sexual orientation was an almost complete non-issue in Iceland, with foreign journalists paying far more attention to her lesbianism than people in her country.

The National Church of Iceland, to which three-quarters of the population belongs, has yet to decide whether or not to allow same-sex marriages in its churches. However, the church allows ministers to perform such weddings if they wish.

Iceland joins fellow European nations Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands in allowing full same-sex marriage.

South Africa and Canada also allow full same-sex marriage nationwide.

Interestingly, after 300 years as an independent nation, Iceland was part of Norway from 1262 until it was ceded to Denmark in 1814. It regained full independence at the end of World War II. Denmark has a parallel institution to marriage called “registered partnerships.”

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