The nation of Malta legalized same-sex marriage earlier this week in a sweeping vote of 66 to 1.
Helena Dalli, Malta’s Equality Minister, the proponent of the legislation, wants to “modernize the institution of marriage.”
Under the new law, the traditional phrase, “you are now husband and wife,” is set to be replaced with a vaguer one: “you are now spouses.” The law also replaces the terms “mother,” and “father,” with, “parents.”
“As a Christian politician I cannot leave my conscience outside the door,” said , Edwin Vassallo, the one member of the Maltese Parliament who voted against the measure, according to the Associated Press.
The Catholic lawmaker says the new law is “morally unacceptable.” When asked if any of his fellow members of parliament shared his sentiments, he said “This was a matter of my personal conscience and I cannot try and influence the conscience of others,” according to The Malta Independent.
Vassallo isn’t the only leader in the predominantly Catholic country who opposes the new legislation, and there are others who take a stiffer stance against the new law.
“I can decide that a carob and an orange should no longer be called by their name,” said Archbishop Charles Scicluna.
“But a carob remains a carob and an orange remains an orange. And marriage, whatever the law says, remains an eternal union exclusive to a man and a woman.”
Although civil unions have been legal in the country since 2014, the new law marks a new chapter for the small nation.