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Gay Marriage Around the World

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Updated: November 5, 2008

Read this comprehensive guide to gay marriage laws around the world:

Nations that recognize gay marriage:

Canada
In June of 2005, the Canadian Parliament enacted a law allowing legal marriage for same-sex couples.

Belgium
The second nation to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003.

Netherlands
The first country to grant gay marriage in 2001.

Norway
Became the sixth country to legalize same-sex marriage on May 11, 2008. (read more)

South Africa
South Africa became the fifth nation to recognize gay marriage in 2005.

Spain
Spain became the fourth nation to allow gay marriage on June 29, 2005.

US states that recognize gay marriage:

California
In May, 2008, California’s Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriage in the state was discriminatory (read more). However, Proposition 8 was introduced on the November 2008 ballot to alter the state Constitution and strike down same-sex marriage. More on [link url=http://gaylife.about.com/od/samesexmarriag1/p/proposition8.htm]Prop 8.[/link]

Connecticut
In a 4 to 3 decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, making it the third state to allow legal gay marriage… (read more)

New Jersey*
New Jersey is the third U.S. state to offer same-sex civil unions behind Vermont and Connecticut. The new same-sex civil unions law, which goes into affect on February 19, 2007, grants gay and lesbian couples the same rights as marriage. *(Although same-sex unions in New Jersey are classified as civil unions, couples are granted the same rights as married heterosexual couples.) read more

New York
Note: By a May 29, 2008 directive, New York only recognizes gay marriages from couples legally married outside of the state. read more

Massachusetts
On May 17, 2004 Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. The State of Massachusetts also issues licenses to gay couples from New Mexico and Rhode Island since neither state explicitly prohibits same-sex marriage.

Nations that allow same-sex partnerships or unions:

Brazil*[/link]
*Only the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul currently allows same-sex civil unions (June 2006).

Croatia
Civil partnerships for same-sex couples have been granted since 2003.

Denmark
Legal civil partnerships have been allowed since 1989.

Finland
Has offered registered partnership benefits since September 2001.

France
Pacte Civil de Solidarité” (PACS), or “Civil Solidarity Pacts,” were instituted in France on November 9, 1999.

Germany
Gay couples can register as “Life Partnerships,” granting lesser financial and pension benefits than marriage.

Hungary
Gay couples have been protected under common-law marriages since 1995; however they are not eligible for legal marriage.

Iceland
Since 1996, gay Icelanders have been protected under registered partnerships.

Luxembourg
Civil partnership legislation modeled after France’s PACS were introduced in Luxembourg in 2004.

Mexico
Same sex civil unions were legalized in Mexico City in November 2006 and in the state of Coahuila on January of 2007, essentially making civil unions legal in all of Mexico (by law, each Mexican state must recognize the laws granted to individuals of the other states). (More on Gay Mexico)

New Zealand
In December, 2004, New Zealand enacted legislation recognizing same-sex civil unions.

Norway
Since 1996, gay Norwegians have been protected under registered partnerships.

Portugal
Same-sex partners have the same rights as opposite-sex partners in common law marriage.

Sweden
Swedish same-sex couples have been able to register under domestic partnership laws since 1995.

Switzerland
Same-sex couples are given limited legal benefits with civil recognition.

United Kingdom
Domestic partners can register under the Civil Partnership Act. This legislation took affect in December 5, 2005 giving registered same-sex couples all of the rights, privileges and responsibilities of married heterosexual couples. The Civil Partnership Act applies across all of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

US States that allow same-sex partnerships or unions:

Connecticut
Although Connecticut defines marriage as between a man and woman, it became the second U.S. state to grant same-sex civil unions in April, 2005.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire, home of the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, became the 4th state behind Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut to offer civil unions. Same-sex partners were allowed to register for civil unions in January 2008. More on New Hampshire Civil Unions

Oregon
Under Oregon’s new domestic partnership law gay and lesbian couples are eligible for all the state-wide rights and benefits of marriage. Oregon also outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation. (more)

Vermont
The first U.S. state to offer same-sex civil unions in 2000. Learn about Vermont civil unions.

Washington
On April 21, 2007, Washington’s domestic partnership bill was signed into law giving gay and lesbian couples many of the benefits of marriage. (more)

Nations that ban same-sex unions:

Honduras
On March 29, 2005, the constitution of Honduras was amended banning same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

Latvia
December 21, 2005 marked the day Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga signed into law a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Uganda
On September 29, 2005, legislation banning same-sex unions was signed by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Penalties for gay marriage will be set in 2006. Under current law, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment from five years to life.

By Ramon Johnson, About.com

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