CAPE TOWN, South Africa (BP)--South Africa's parliament passed a bill Nov. 14 that would legalize "gay marriage," virtually assuring that within days the country will become the fifth worldwide to redefine the natural definition of marriage.
The move came one year after South Africa's highest court ordered the government to begin granting marriage licenses to homosexual couples, giving it until Dec. 1 of this year to do so.
The bill passed the National Assembly 230-41 and now must make it through parliament's second house, the National Council of Provinces, and be signed by the president. Both, though, are considered mere formalities, the Independent Online news website in South Africa reported.
South Africa would join Canada, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands as the only countries in the world to legalize "gay marriage." The U.S. state of Massachusetts also recognizes "gay marriage."
South Africa's constitution is one of the most liberal in the world and bans discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation." The lawsuit was brought by a lesbian couple. The new law would define marriage as the "voluntary union of two persons."
"When we attained our democracy, we sought to distinguish ourselves from an unjust painful past, by declaring that never again shall it be that any South African will be discriminated against on the basis of color, creed culture and sex," Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the National Assembly, according to the Associated Press.
Supporters of the bill tried to appease Christians by inserting an "opt-out" clause, whereby civil and religious leaders can refuse to "marry" homosexual couples if they object to it on moral grounds. But Christian leaders said the bill nevertheless is immoral.
Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, called it “the saddest day of the 12 years of our democratic parliament, when some members of this house, led by the ruling party, will be attempting to pass into law the Civil Union Bill which is opposed by the overwhelming majority of our people," the Independent Online reported.
“Adultery, sexual immorality and homosexuality are grave sins in God’s sight since they are a transgression of His law and are defiling a marriage relationship between a man and a woman," Meshoe said, according to the Independent Online. “With this bill, the ruling party and all those who support it are inviting serious trouble on themselves without even considering the impact this bill will have on future generations.”
Compiled by Michael Foust. For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage