In spite of the Church of Norway’s official stance against marriage equality, several mayors within the nation have decided to open their city halls to priests who wish to bless the unions of gay couples.
The City Council of Oslo set aside its Munch room to give priests a place in which they could perform blessings for same-sex couples, in a bipartisan effort led by Conservative Party mayor Fabian Stang and Labour Party deputy mayor Libe Rieber-Mohn.
In an interview with Norway’s VG newspaper, Rieber-Mohn said, “We have decided to open the hall for priests who want to bless gays,” according to Pink News. “We think it’s sad that the church does not want to open its doors for weddings of people who love each other.”
Priest Carl Petter Opsahl, who is also a jazz musician, was happy to accept the offer. “I would like to set up in the town hall, definitely. This gives a helping hand to Oslo priests and gay couples who want to marry in a Christian ritual.”
Mayors in Bodo, Sandnes, and Tromso have agreed to open their doors to priests wishing to bless couples’ unions as well.
Marriage equality has been the law of the land in Norway since 2008.
The Church of Norway held a vote to introduce a ritual for the marriage of gay couples at the Church’s national synod on April 8. However, it was defeated with a vote of 64 against to 51 in favor.
The head of Norway’s leading LGBT organization, Bård Nylund, told press, “We are disappointed, but it’s okay to be disappointed sometimes. We want to make it clear that we are happy that there is a struggle, and that so many in the Church are willing to stand up and be counted.
“Now they have stated loud and clear that they do not want to be a national church. It’s a sad day for the Church, and for all its members who now feel that the Church does not give them the sense of belonging they want.”