[JURIST] The Norwegian parliament approved a law [legislative materials, PDF, in Norwegian] Tuesday allowing same-sex marriage in the country. The new law replaces 1993 legislation that granted same-sex couples the right to enter into civil partnerships. The bill was proposed [JURIST report] in the Norwegian parliament, the Storting [official website], by the Standing Committee on Family and Cultural Affairs [committee member list], and passed by the Storting's informal lower house [Aftenposten report] last week. The bill received final legislative approval from the Storting's informal upper house, the Lanting, Tuesday. The new law allows same-sex couples to be married in a church, but does not require a minister or religious organization to perform the ceremony. It will take effect January 1, 2008. AP has more.
The new Norwegian law came on the same day that same-sex couples were allowed to marry in California, under the Supreme Court of California's landmark ruling [text, PDF; JURIST report] allowing same-sex marriage in the state. With the new law, Norway becomes the fourth European country to recognize same-sex marriage. Currently, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands are the only European countries to recognize same-sex marriage, although a number of others, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, and Croatia, recognize some form of civil union or registered partnership [ILGA backgrounder]. Earlier this month, the Greek justice minister denounced [JURIST report] the first same-sex marriages to take place in the country under a controversial and non-judicial interpretation of the country's constitution.