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MP registers partnership – but "would still vote against same-sex marriage"

MP Markku Rossi of the prime minister's Centre Party this past weekend registered his long-running partnership with another man – but says he does not regret voting against gender-neutral marriage last year.

Markku Rossi
Markku Rossi is a 24-year veteran of Parliament. Image: Veli-Pekka Hämäläinen / Yle

On Sunday, long-time Member of Parliament Markku Rossi, 59, formally registered his relationship with artist and publisher Matti Kaarlejärvi in a ceremony at their home in Kuopio, eastern Finland. The news was first reported by local paper Savon Sanomat, the only media invited to the event.

The ceremony came just a week after the two men arrived together at the annual Independence Day ball at the Presidential Palace. Afterwards Rossi complained that an Yle TV commentator had described Kaarlejärvi as his "spouse".

What a difference a week makes

A day after the ceremony, he struck a different tone.

"We decided that we now had to make a decision that is permanent," he told Yle. "Definitely the Palace Ball of a week ago had an impact on this. It started a storm when someone said that in front of half of Finland."

The broadcast, always the most popular of the year, was watched by 2.6 million people out of a population of just under five and a half million.

Rossi says that reaction to their decision has been nearly all positive and supportive.

"Indeed, I must really say that I'm happily surprised by this, and quite relieved, too," he says.

No regrets about 'no' vote

The gender-neutral Marriage Act was ratified by Parliament in November 2014 by a vote of 105-92. Voting against it were all the Christian Democrat MPs as well as nearly all members of the Finns Party and the Centre Party, including Rossi.

"I would still vote the same way," Rossi told Yle on Monday.

Rossi says he considered the campaign for same-sex marriage as "understandable". However he said he did not approve of the law because the classical term "marriage" would not be associated with church weddings. The lawmaker added that he did not want to vote for a bill that would cause problems for the dominant state-supported Evangelical Lutheran Church.

"I have always approved of people of the same gender having registered partnerships," added Rossi, who has been an MP since 1991.

The gender-neutral Marriage Act was signed into law by President Sauli Niinistö last February. The amendments enter into force in March 2017.

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