OSLO, April 11 (Xinhua) -- After 20 years of debate, the Church of Norway on Monday approved the wedding ceremonies for gay couples in its places of worship, local media reported.
Eighty-eight out of 115 members present at the General Synod of the Church of Norway in Tronheim voted in favor of the proposal, putting an end to the years of arguing, according to Norwegian newspaper VG.
"It is a historic and happy day for gay, lesbian and bisexual persons," said Kristin Gunnleiksrud Raaum, the new leader of the Open National Church, a movement that won the church elections last autumn.
She said the plan is to have an internal atmosphere that would suit everyone and conservative priests will still have the right to decline to process the wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples.
This, however, will not endanger the newly established gay rights to get married in their local church, she added.
On the other hand, Rolf Magne Haukalid, one of the 33 voters against this decision, expressed a big disappointment in the change of attitude of the Church of Norway.
"For me and a few thousands of those who gave me the trust to come and represent them here, the disappointment, sorrow and uncertainty are big," Haukalid told public broadcaster NRK.
"This decision is in conflict with the Bible and Jesus' words on marriage," ha said.
Norway was the first Scandinavian country and sixth country in the world that officially recognized same-sex marriage. The gender neutral marriage law passed in Norwegian parliament in June 2008 and allowed same-sex couples to get married starting from Jan. 1, 2009.
In 2014, the first proposal for church wedding of homosexual couples was turned down by the church council, only to result in elections in the next year won by supporters of proposal, led by the Open National Church.