Despite protests and public outcry, South Africa’s Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to allow gay marriage, making it the first nation to do so on the African continent.
As you may recall, SA’s High Court ordered Parliament to amend the constitution, insisting that the world’s most progressive political government must specifically allow gay marriage. After months of writing and rewriting the document, 230 politicians voted to include the document in the constitution, while a paltry 41 opposed and three abstained. Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula declared:
When we attained our democracy, we sought to distinguish ourselves from an unjust painful past, by declaring that never again shall it be that any South African will be discriminated against on the basis of color, creed culture and sex.
Despite the new bill, which allows the “voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union”, religious leaders are under no obligation to wed people of the same-sex. The Washington Post reports:
[The bill] also says marriage officers need not perform a ceremony between same-sex couples if doing so would conflict with his or her “conscience, religion and belief.”
That actually seems pretty reasonable. Sure, it opens the door for some discrimination, but wouldn’t one rather have a supportive person bless their union, rather than someone who’s suppressing their actual opinion.
We can’t help but wonder, however, what Jacob Zuma thinks about all this…Not that it really matters at this point.