The tiny island nation of Iceland (pop. 320,000) is preparing to legalize gay marriage.

The government introduced its gender-neutral marriage bill on March 23, reported.

The bill has the backing of Prime Minister Johanna Siguroardottir, the world's first openly lesbian politician to be elected to helm a country.

Iceland was one of the first nations to recognize gay unions in 1996 with registered partnerships. The law has been expanded over the years to grant gay and lesbian couples all the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage, including adoption.

In an April, 2009 special election, voters overwhelmingly rejected the conservative Independent Party that had ruled Iceland for 18 years in favor of Siguroardottir's Social Democrats and their partners, the Left-Greens, giving the pair a 3 seat majority in the 63-seat Parliament.

Siguroardottir originally took over the reins of Iceland's government as interim prime minister on February 1; results of the special election secured her post.

Siguroardottir entered a registered partnership with writer-playwright Jonina Leosdottir in 2002. She has two adult sons from a previous marriage.

Previous expansions of registered partnerships sailed easily through Iceland's Parliament, which suggests that the gay marriage bill will likely see an easy adoption. If approved, gay couples could marry as early as June 27.

Gay marriage is also under consideration in Portugal.