Finland passes marriage equality laws

By Patrice L

March 1, 2017 became a big day in the country of Finland’s history because same-sex marriage became legal. According to a Local Register Office’s figures, some 41 couples across the country are scheduled to marry this week.

The legislation was also a pivotal moment for participatory democracy in Finland, as the law was started as a citizens’ initiative to legally recognise marriage for same-sex couples.

“As a queer woman, I think it’s about time we all come together to accept all forms of love,” said senior Annie Laster. “It makes me happy that Finland made a step in the right direction.”

Even though same sex marriage was approved by Parliament in 2014, a separate citizens’ initiative petitioned by conservative activists was presented to Finnish lawmakers just weeks before the law was to go into effect, but that initiative was later thrown out. Finland now counts itself among the 22 countries of the world where it is legal for same sex couples to get married.

“It’s about time,” said English teacher Marisa Cronk, advisor of the Gay-Straight Alliance. “Any time that love is recognized as love and rights are given to all people, it is a victory for social justice.”

Finland is the last Nordic country to make marriage equality legal, after countries such as Sweden and Norway passed same-sex marriage laws in 2009. Denmark has had same-sex unions since 1989, the first country in the world to do so, but those partnerships did not grant full rights.

The new Finnish law expands existing same-sex unions that give couples the right to take each others surname and makes them eligible to adopt children, erasing the previous legal distinctions between same-sex partnerships and heterosexual marriages. Finland has allowed same-sex unions since 2002, but with restricted rights.

“I think it’s fantastic,” says senior Dasha Abbas, president of Walled Lake Central’s Advocates for Gender Equality (CAGE) club, “It’s a huge step towards equality and it’s super important in this social climate. I hope more countries follow after Finland soon.”

Same-sex marriage is legal in an increasing number of European nations. Ireland voted in favor of legalization in 2015, while Slovenia allowed same-sex marriages as of last week.