Estonia today became the first former Soviet republic to approve a civil unions bill. The vote was very close. Via the Associated Press:
In a 40-38 vote, lawmakers voted Thursday in favor of a civil partnership act that recognizes the civil unions of all couples regardless of gender. Twenty-three lawmakers were absent or abstained in the third and final reading of the bill. The new law comes into force in 2016. Estonia, which like Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union for almost five decades, is deemed the most Western-oriented of the former republics ruled by Moscow. The Estonian Human Rights Center hailed the law as “historic,” saying it would send a strong message to neighboring Russia, which passed what it called “a draconian anti-gay law” last year.
More from Estonia Public Broadcasting:
If signed by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the Cohabitation Act would enter force in 2016 and allow cohabitating couples, irrespective of the gender of either partner, the right to register their relationship at a notary and enjoy the kinds of financial benefits conferred by marriage. The final version also provides for the possibility of adoption by unmarried cohabiting couples. There is some fine print, however: to enter into force in 2016, some implementing acts will have to be passed first. These require 51 of 101 MPs to be in favor.
The Family Act, which was not affected by the bill, continues to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Reform Party, the ruling party which championed the bill along with the Social Democrats, hailed the passage as a game-changer. In a political process that saw protests, petitions and social media campaigns, top Reform Party MP and former justice minister Kristen Michal said it debunked the myth that Estonians were closed-minded. “Estonia is very small. There are too few people for building walls between neighbors,” he said.
You may recall that NOM and other US-based Christian groups have campaigned against LGBT rights in Estonia.
On Monday the US-based LifeSiteNews reported on Christian opposition to today’s achievement.
Pro-family Estonians held a massive rally against a proposed civil union law, which they say is a precursor to legalized same-sex “marriage,” outside the Parliament building in the capital city of Tallinn on Sunday. Several thousand people came out for the rally to voice their opposition to the draft “Cohabitation Act” that would allow cohabiting couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, the same legal protection as married couples.
“The adoption of this law would be a part of a much wider effort to pervert our society’s moral foundations and this thing would not stop with approving the law. We have gathered here to send politicians a very clear message – the Estonian people will not accept humiliation, ignoring our cultural traditions, whether it is done under the perverse slogan of tolerance, or under the pressure of foreign masters,” said Varro Vooglaid, head of the Foundation for the Defense of Tradition and Family, which organized the protest.
Could this week get ANY worse for Brian Brown? Snork!