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Finnish Lutheran leader "rejoices" over same-sex marriage vote

The debate over gender-neutral marriage has shaken the church – which includes more than three out of four Finns – in a positive way, says Archbishop Kari Mäkinen. Meanwhile the chair of the Christian Democrats expressed deep disappointment.

Arkkipiispa Kari Mäkinen
Lutheran Archbishop Kari Mäkinen Image: Yle

Archbishop Kari Mäkinen, leader of Finland’s state-supported Evangelical Lutheran church, has hailed Friday's vote allowing same-sex marriage.

“I know how much this day means to the rainbow community, their loved ones and many others. I rejoice with my whole heart for them and with them,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Friday afternoon.

Mäkinen also praised those behind the citizens’ initiative that brought the issue to a parliamentary vote, and those who took part in the debate in various ways.

"Time for reconsideration"

“Our concept of marriage needs a fundamental examination. Speaking for myself, I think it is time for reconsideration. It will take place from the standpoint of the church’s own principles,” he said.

Mäkinen said he also understands those for whom Friday’s decision was a disappointment.

In his view, the discussion has shaken the church – which includes more than three out of four Finns – in a positive way. Many Finns have left the church in recent years based on its perceived opposition to gay rights – represented in the minds of many by the Christian Democrats Party, which is not affiliated with the church. Its chair, Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, has been one of the most outspoken opponents of gender-neutral marriage.

Räsänen: "Deep question of principle"

Päivi Räsänen.
Räsänen Image: Yle
Räsänen – whose ministry will be partly responsible for implementing legal changes brought on by the law – told Yle she was deeply disappointed by the vote.

"This is a deep question of principle," she said. "I believe that in the future a large group of Finns will continue to consider marriage to be a bond between a man and a woman, and that they will not consider relationships between people of the same gender to be marriages."

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