The Swedish Parliament today passed a new law allowing same-sex couples to legally marry by a vote of 261-22, with 16 members abstaining.
Legal same-sex marriage there will begin May 1.
Sweden has had a civil partnership law for same-sex couples since 1995, and the new â€œgender-neutral marriageâ€ law does not automatically make partnered couples into married couples. So those who have civil partnerships will either have to have a new ceremony or send in an application to have the partnership converted into a marriage, if they want to be married.
The Christian Democrats, which make up only a very small percentage of the Swedish Parliament, was the Christian Democrats the only party to oppose the measure.
The vote gives gay and lesbian couples the right to civil marriage. But if those couples want to be wed in a church, they have to find a vicar who will agree to marry them.
Some Lutheran Church of Sweden vicars have said they will marry same-sex couples, and the church will take a common stand on the issue at a synod next fall. But, as in other countries where gay marriage has become an issue, Roman Catholics, Muslims and other religions oppose the change.