Malta par­lia­ment OKs gay mar­riage

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

VAL­LETTA, Malta — Law­mak­ers in Malta le­gal­ized same-sex mar­riage Wed­nes­day, join­ing much of West­ern Europe by re­plac­ing the tra­di­tional “you are now hus­band and wife” dec­la­ra­tion in civil cer­e­monies with “you are now spouses.”

Only one law­maker out of 67 in the Mal­tese par­lia­ment voted against the leg­is­la­tion, sig­nal­ing its broad sup­port on the is­land na­tion de­spite op­po­si­tion from the Catholic Church.

The La­bor Party-led gov­ern­ment had promised to in­tro­duce the bill af­ter win­ning a sec­ond term last month. Both op­po­si­tion par­ties sup­ported it, en­sur­ing its pas­sage.

Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Muscat hailed the “his­toric” vote, say­ing it showed Mal­tese so­ci­ety had reached “an un­prece­dented level of ma­tu­rity.”

In­deed, the law’s pas­sage marked the lat­est ev­i­dence of the trans­for­ma­tion of the once-con­ser­va­tive na­tion of about 440,000 peo­ple, where di­vorce was il­le­gal un­til 2011.

Adop­tion by same-sex cou­ples has been le­gal since civil unions were in­tro­duced in 2014. Last year, the num­ber of ex­clu­sively civil mar­riages eclipsed the num­ber of church wed­dings for the first time.

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