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Homosexual Icelanders Wed In Civil Ceremonies

June 28, 1996

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) _ One of the first lesbian couples to wed under a new Icelandic law said joyfully their new recognition made them feel free.

Iceland’s parliament recently approved the institution of secular ``registered co-habitation,″ which gives lesbian and gay couples many of the legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual spouses.

``We look upon this as a recognition of our existence,″ said Anna Sigridur Sigurjonsdottir, after she and Solveig Magnea Jonsdottir exchanged vows at a register office Thursday, the day the law took effect.

``This brings with it an unbelievable feeling of freedom,″ said Jonsdottir. ``To be finally made visible gives us even more freedom.″

Lesbians and gay men are not allowed to wed in Iceland’s national church, which is evangelical Lutheran and has about 90 percent of Icelanders as members.

Homosexual couples also are not allowed to adopt children, and lesbian women cannot have test tube babies. Artificial insemination in Iceland is controlled by a government monopoly that restricts its use only to married heterosexual women.

The gay wedding law was approved by parliament earlier this month.

It faced no opposition from church leaders, although right-wing groups from the Westman Islands, south of the mainland, conducted a newspaper letter-writing campaign in opposition.

The first couple to register under the new law were Gudrun Elisabet Jonsdottir and her partner, Valgerdur Martensdottir.

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