Denmark will allow gay couples to be married in churches starting this February, according to reports.
The Lutheran Church of Denmark, to which 80 percent of Danes belong, already offers short blessing ceremonies at the end of masses, but the measure set to begin next year will allow gay couple to conduct weddings in churches also
A recent poll found that more than 60 percent of Danes are in favor of gay marriage.
New church minister of the Church of Denmark, Manu Sareen, said it was a long time coming for the Scandinavian country.
“The first same-sex weddings will hopefully become reality in Spring 2012,” Sareen said. “I look forward to the moment the first homosexual couple steps out of the church.”
Denmark has long been a leader in gay rights. In 1989, it became the first country to allow same-sex civil unions. One of the first two men to enter into a civil union anywhere in the world, Axel Axgil, died at age 96 in October.
Though the clear majority of Danes claim to belong to the Church of Denmark, only 5 percent regularly attend church services. A portion of tax dollars collected from Danish citizens is allocated to churches and religious groups.
About $1.1 million is allocated annually to churches and religious organizations.
Historically, Christian countries, like those in Scandinavia, are facing a congregational crisis – many can’t attract the numbers they used to. Last month, a Swedish pastor started “Techno Mass” at his church to lure in young worshippers.