JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (BP)–South Africa’s highest court Dec. 1 ordered the legislature to legalize “gay marriage,” putting the country on track to become the fifth nation worldwide to redefine marriage.
The court gave South Africa’s Parliament 12 months to add homosexuals to the country’s marriage laws. If Parliament does not follow the court’s order, then “gay marriage” nonetheless will become legal in one year.
South Africa would join Canada, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands as the only countries to grant marriage licenses to homosexual couples. The U.S. state of Massachusetts also recognizes “gay marriage.”
South Africa’s constitution is one of the most liberal in the world and bans discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation.” The lawsuit was brought by a lesbian couple.
Homosexual activists applauded the decision but expressed disappointment in having to wait as long as 12 months. Only one judge dissented from the ruling, and that was because the decision did not take effect immediately.
A government spokesman told the Mail & Guardian newspaper in Johannesburg that the government would respect the decision.
But the African Christian Democratic Party called on the passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the natural definition of marriage.
“Every long-standing society has viewed marriage as a union of male and female,” ACDP spokesperson Steve Swart said in a statement. “Studies of previous civilizations reveal that when a society strays from the sexual ethic of marriage, it deteriorates and eventually disintegrates.”
ACDP President Kenneth Meshoe noted that his party voted against the constitution when it was passed in the mid-1990s partly because of the document’s liberal bent.
“I warned the [African National Congress] that by including the ‘sexual orientation’ clause they were aiming at redefining marriage, [and] the ANC said they would never redefine marriage, [so] therefore they must take the blame for the moral degeneration of the country and break-down of the family,” Meshoe said in a statement.
Said Swart: “We affirm that the traditional understanding of marriage is correct, that it is the God-given context for male/female bonding, mutual care, sexual intimacy and inter-dependent support…. Because marriage and the family antedates and precedes the state and its various organs, the state cannot change marriage but only recognize it.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage