Legislation will be introduced early next year with the goal of allowing same-sex couples in Denmark to marry.
According to the Copenhagen Post, the government plans to introduce a bill after the New Year that would allow same-sex couples, who are currently entitled to the civil status of "registered partnerships," to hold weddings in the Church of Denmark and be considered "married" under the law.
"The first same-sex weddings will hopefully become reality in Spring 2012. I look forward to the moment the first homosexual couple steps out of the church. I'll be standing out there throwing rice," said church minister Manu Sareen to the local Jyllands-Posten newspaper, according to the Post.
The proposal from the center-left government angered some local religious leaders. Others asked whether church employees, whose salaries are paid by taxes in Denmark, would be forced to marry same-sex couples. Sareen said that church employees opposed to the new law would be accommodated.
"Lots of people are mistaken in thinking that homosexual weddings are just the next step after female priests," said Henrik Hojlund, the parish priest for Losning and Korning and chairman for the Evangelical Lutheran Network (ELN). "But it is much more consequential and beyond the boundaries for normal Christianity."
Civil unions between same-sex partners became legal in Denmark in 1989. Recent polls show that almost 70% of the population supports allowing same-sex couples to marry in the church.