Honolulu Star-Bulletin Local News

S P E C I A L _ R E P O R T

Ove Carlsen, left, and Ivan Larsen met in a gay bar, were
second in line to register, and believe in being openly gay.

Couples: Profiles of Commitment

‘I’m a husband for him, but he’s not a wife,’
says a priest of his partner, who is a
public school psychologist

Stories and photos
By Linda Hosek

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Ove Carlsen was a gay man trying to make a heterosexual marriage work when he met Ivan Larsen in a gay bar in 1986.

Carlsen, a public school psychologist, knew from the eye contact with Larsen, a Church of Denmark priest, that he wanted to live with him.

He moved to Larsen's parish house a year later and they were second in line to marry when Denmark offered registered partnerships in 1989. Turned out in tuxedos, Larsen wore a blue bow tie and Carlsen a pink one.

"We wanted to (register) for both practical and emotional reasons," he said from their artistically decorated home filled with books, paintings and plants.

They consider themselves married and refer to each other as "husband," rejecting the titles of partner and friend. "I'm a husband for him, but he's not a wife," Larsen clarified.

Larsen was a media focus as a priest who moderated a weekly radio program on homosexuality and who performed blessings for same-sex couples in church. When bishops forbade him to do so, he continued his blessings outside.

Carlsen, who works with retarded and autistic children, initially wondered how their parents would respond to him after he moved in with Larsen.

"I found out the parents didn't mind," he said. "It didn't matter what I did in my private life. The parents saw I was just as good as before they knew."

Carlsen said his own father, also a priest, has come to accept his relationship with Larsen. But he doesn't want to hear about gay issues.

"He'll say: 'It's OK that you're homosexual, but do you have to talk so much about it?' "

Being open is key for Carlsen, who developed stomach cancer during his heterosexual marriage. He said it cleared up after an operation and after he resolved his double life.

Larsen said he got a death threat about seven years ago, but it didn't make him retreat from his activism. In fact, he looks forward to gay events, such as Europride, which drew 30,000 homosexuals last year to Denmark. "I hope we have one every year," he said.


Fighting for the children: Partners seek equal treatment in the areas of adoption and artificial insemination.
Blessing of the church: Partners want the right to a church ceremony and blessing.


Groundwork: The Netherlands prepares for partnerships and debates opening marriages.
At home: Hawaii's ongoing legislative and judicial struggle.
On the mainland: The status of same-sex benefits nationwide.

Archive of previous same-sex stories

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