[1. June 2007] It's high season for weddings. While the cornflowers are lush, green trees and most people are dropping more and more garments in line with the sun and temperature, the blood is dripping in the veins of the Norwegians and we give in to love.
When Norwegian couples manifest their love in this way, they do not just make a romantic commitment to each other. They also enter into an economically binding partnership, which provides legal rights and obligations in relation to each other and as a unit for society at large. Marriage means, among other things, the right to inherit each other, to be taxed together, to sit in unmarried living, to the rights of joint children, to adopt and to marry in the church. Many of these rights are also granted to those who enter into a gay partnership in Norway today. Since the law was enacted in 1993, gays in partnership have been given virtually the same rights as married heterosexuals.
The strength of love is not determined by whether the lovers have the same sex. But the degree of rights does. The right to go down the church floor to get married in the church, the right to adopt children or be artificially fertilized is the very life of many Norwegian couples. Currently, these pleasures are illegal for same-sex couples. When the government now submits to the hearing the proposal for a common marriage law for heterosexuals and gays, the feelings are strong and the fight for public opinion is fierce. Student priest Øyvind Benestad has collected over 10.000 signatures to prevent gay and lesbian couples from gaining the same rights as heterosexuals. The forces fighting for a common marriage law have so far collected the same number of signatures on the website sija.no.
While not the right to bow your head to God or to get pregnant is the dream of everyone, the prohibition of lesbians and gays having the opportunity to do so is in itself a manifestation of a discriminatory system. For those who enter into romantic and committed partnerships with their same-sex partners, this is a crystal-clear reminder that their cohabitation is viewed as inferior to heterosexual marriage.
Such reminders are not worthy of society. The love between two people who love each other is equally beautiful, equally binding and equally fragile, whether the two are of the same or opposite sex. A common law of marriage should be a matter of course.