Malta Officially Passes Marriage Equality

"It shows that our democracy and our society are maturing… it’s a society where we can all say we are equal."

Malta officially passed marriage equality legislation this week, when the island nation's parliament passed a measure to remove the words "husband," "wife," "mother," and "father" from existing marriage laws and instead utilizes gender-neutral terms such as "spouse" and "parent who gave birth."

The vote, taken on Wednesday, was overwhelming—66 to 1—and not wholly unexpected: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had made equal marriage a plank in his recent election campaign.

The only dissenting vote came from Nationalist Party MP Edwin Vassallo, who said he could not approve of something "immoral."

A celebration was held Wednesday night outside of the Auberge de Castille, the prime minister's official residence.

Matthew Mirabelli/AFP/Getty Images

Homosexual couples cut a symbolic wedding cake in Saint George's Square in Malta

“This is an historic vote. It shows that our democracy and our society are maturing…it’s a society where we can all say we are equal,” Muscat said.

Also unsurprisingly, Catholic leaders were not happy about the news.

“This has always been the model of marriage of humanity itself and not merely a Christian vision," the Curia said in a statement. "By introducing the concept of same-sex marriage, the law is doing away with the differences and natural reciprocity between men and women, as well as with the anthropological basis of a family.”

Archbishop Charles Scicluna made a sly dig in a tweet about carobs and oranges.

Wednesday's vote makes Malta the 15th in Europe, and the 24th in the world, to embrace marriage equality.

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