As reported on the BBC, Sweden has taken the next step onward in the journey towards sexuality-blind equality, and voted to legalize same-sex marriages, religious or civil. According to the article, the Lutheran Church has offered to recognize partnerships, but not look favourably on marriage.
On one hand I personally believe that marriage and partnership (civil) rights should be made mutually exclusive, marriage being a religious issue and government benefits being civil. It seems ludicrous that the government refuses benefits to ‘partners’ based on a religious judgment, when partners may be of all shapes and sizes, including siblings, parents, grandparents, homosexual couples, heterosexual couples, etc. If the divide between marriage and civil benefits were actually a divide, then the government could better serve its citizens by guaranteeing rights–even just the basic ones such as adoption, custody of children and inheritance.
But I digress. What I like about the Swedish law is that it does not force the Lutheran church or any other to carry out the marriages, and the Lutheran church has decided to let individual pastors refuse, but it has stated that homosexual couples wed in religious ceremonies have equal protection to those of civil ceremonies. This is what states may do for religion–recognize the binding power of the ceremony–not lay down religious doctrine; this also is a civil decision, not one made because they church favored it, limiting the interconnectedness in the other direction, too.