- This article covers the status of same-sex marriage around the world. For the status of same-sex marriage legislation, see Same-sex marriage legislation around the world.
The status of same-sex marriage changes frequently as legislation and legal action takes place around the world. Summarized in this article are the current trends and consensus of political authorities and religions throughout the world.
- 1 Civil recognition
- 1.1 Africa
- 1.2 Asia
- 1.3 Europe
- 1.4 North America
- 1.4.1 Canada
- 1.4.2 Mexico
- 1.4.3 Costa Rica
- 1.4.4 United States
- 1.5 South America
- 1.6 Oceania
- 2 Religious recognition
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- See also: LGBT rights by country or territory
The Netherlands in 2001 was the first country to legalize same-sex marriages, with the first marriages performed in the Amsterdam city hall on April 1, 2001. Since then, same-sex marriages have been recognized legally by Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010) and Iceland (2010).
Same-sex marriages are also recognised in five in U.S. states: Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (for 4 hours in 2007 and from 2009), Vermont (2009) and New Hampshire (2010). Same-sex marriage is not recognised by the U.S. federal government, but is recognised by its federal district, the District of Columbia (2010).
- See also: LGBT rights in Africa
In December 2005, in the case of Minister of Home Affairs v. Fourie, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled unanimously that it was unconstitutional to prevent people of the same gender from marrying when marriage was permitted for people of opposite gender, and gave Parliament one year to "rework laws allowing same-sex unions". If Parliament does not act, the words "or spouse" will be added to the Marriage Act to allow these unions.
South Africa has completed the process of reorganizing certain government departments to support gay marriages. By July 2005, the Department of Home Affairs had completed the design and printing of new forms to allow for same-sex couples to apply for immigration and residence benefits. Several same-sex couples are already legally recognized as married, based on the definition of "spouse" in South Africa's Immigration Act of 2002.
In November 2006 the government of South Africa passed the Civil Unions Act, allowing for the "voluntary union of two persons, which is solemnized and registered by either a marriage or civil union". The law allows for churches to refuse to perform civil unions.
Nepal's highest court, in November 2008, issued final judgment on matters related to LGBT rights. Based on its recommendation the government will introduce a same-sex marriage bill. Same-sex marriage and protection for sexual minorities will be included in the new Nepalese constitution currently being drafted.
The National People's Congress, legislature of the People's Republic of China (PRC), proposed legislation allowing same-sex marriages in 2003. During the course of the debate, the proposal failed to garner the 30 votes needed for a placement on the agenda. Same-sex marriage supporters have vowed to keep pressing for its passage in the PRC.
Article 24 of the Japanese constitution states that "Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis." The purpose of the clause was to counter previous feudal arrangement where the father or husband was legally recognized as the head of the household. However, the new constitution had the unintended consequence of defining the marriage as union of "both sexes", i.e. man and women.[Citation needed] However, on March 27, 2009, it was reported that Japan has given the green light for its nationals to marry same-sex foreign partners in countries where gay marriage is legal, a justice ministry official said Friday. Japan does not allow same-sex marriages domestically and has so far also refused to issue a key document required for citizens to wed overseas if the applicant's intended spouse was of the same gender. Under the change, the justice ministry has told local authorities to issue the key certificate—which states a person is single and of legal age—for those who want to enter same-sex marriages.
On 2 July 2009, the Delhi High Court court decriminalised homosexual intercourse within its jurisdiction of the national capital between consenting adults and judged Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code violates the fundamental right to life and liberty and the right to equality as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Even so, Indian views on sexuality remain widely very conservative, and homosexuality is generally considered to be a taboo.
In 2003, the government of the Republic of China, (ROC, aka Taiwan) led by the Presidential office, proposed legislation granting marriages to same-sex couples under the Human Rights Basic Law. However, it faced opposition among cabinet members and has not proceeded. ROC does not have any form of same-sex unions.
On July 30, 2004, the Democratic Labor Party of South Korea filed a formal complaint against the Incheon District Court's decision to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages. The complaint was filed on the grounds that the decision is unconstitutional, because neither the Constitution nor civil law define marriage as being between a man and a woman (the only mentioned requisite is age of majority) and that the Constitution explicitly forbids discrimination "pertaining to all political, economic, social, or cultural aspects of life of an individual." The Committee also claimed that refusal to recognize same-sex marriages constitutes discrimination based on sexual orientation and a refusal to provide equal protection under the law.
The New People's Army of the Philippines conducted the country’s first same-sex marriage in 2005. However it was not recognized by the government. Within the government there has been some debate on the issue of same-sex unions. The Roman Catholic Church stands in fierce opposition to any such unions. But since 1991 the Metropolitan Community Church Philippines has been conducting Same Sex Holy Unions in the Philippines. As of 2009, the issue of same-sex marriage is not "under consideration" in the Philippines. The only thing under consideration is a possible ban of same-sex marriage, including refusal to recognize marriages performed overseas. No political party has placed gay rights on its platform aside from Akbayan, a small party with only one representative in Congress. The Philippines has yet to even approve any anti-discrimination legislation, so any serious look at same-sex unions (in a positive sense at least) is likely decades or more away.
The King of Cambodia, Norodom Sihanouk, announced in 2004 that he supports legislation extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. However, since his proclamation no effort has been made to legislate for them.
Marriages in Israel are performed under the authority of the religious authorities to which the couple belong. For Jewish couples the responsible religious authority is the orthodox Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The Rabbinate does not permit same-sex marriages. However, on November 21, 2006 the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that five same-sex Israeli couples who had married in Canada were entitled to have their marriages registered in Israel.
Template:Same-sex marriage map Europe Same-sex civil marriages are legally recognized nationwide in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Sweden,Portugal and Iceland. In a number of other European countries, same-sex civil unions give similar rights to marriage.
A poll conducted by EOS Gallup Europe in 2003 found that 57 percent of the population in the then 15-member European Union support same-sex marriage. The support among the member states who joined in 2004 is lower (around 28 percent), meaning that 53 percent of citizens in the 25-member EU support legalizing same-sex marriage.
The government has stated that the legislation is needed to stop discrimination against gay couples. A law was passed on 4 February 2010 by a unanimous vote to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but did not include the right to marry.
On January 30, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage, with some restrictionsTemplate:Vague.
On March 15, 2006, the parliament of the Czech Republic voted to override a presidential veto and allow same-sex partnerships to be recognized by law, effective July 1, 2006, granting registered couples inheritance and health care rights similar to married couples. The legislation did not grant adoption rights. The parliament had previously rejected similar legislation four times.
In May 2004, the largest opposition party in France, the French Socialist Party, announced its support for same-sex marriage. A 2004 poll by ELLE found that 64% of those polled in France supported same-sex marriage and 49% supported adoption by same-sex couples.
In Germany there is a legal recognition of same-sex couples. Registered life partnerships (Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft) (effectively, a form of civil union) have been instituted since 2001, giving same-sex couples rights and obligations in areas such as inheritance, health insurance, immigration, name change, and maintenance (alimony and child support). In 2004, this act was amended to include adoption rights (stepchild adoption only) and to reform previously cumbersome dissolution procedures with regard to division of property and alimony.
Later that year, the Social Democratic Party, one of the oldest and largest political parties in Germany, and the Alliance '90/The Greens (a political party founded in the 1970s, based on progressive social movements in Germany) proposed allowing same-sex marriage. However, in recent years the Social Democratic Party ceased to push for same-sex marriage but to equalize rights for registered partners. German public opinion showed generous support for same-sex marriage in 2003, with 65% agreeing with such a proposal, and 57% agreeing with gay adoption. This represents an increase over the acceptance in May 1999, when only 54% favored gay marriage, with 37% opposed. [Citation needed]
Greek law on civil marriage does not explicitly specify that the couple should be a female and a male. In spring 2008, the Minister of Justice announced that a bill was to be introduced to Parliament in order to regulate civil partnerships, but refused to include provisions for same-sex couples in the bill. On June 3, 2008 the mayor of Tilos Island performed two same-sex civil weddings, one of a female and one of a male couple. This created a flurry of reactions, both positive and negative. The chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court declared that the weddings have no basis in law and initiated judicial action against the mayor, the Minister of Justice concurring. Many clerics declared their opposition, but the spokesman of the Primate of the Church of Greece said that people who marry "outside the church ... can do what they want". Most opposition parties declared their support both for same-sex civil marriage or partnership and for the mayor's actions. The newlyweds indicated that they intend to pursue the matter in the courts and, if not vindicated, to the European Court of Human Rights.
Hungary was the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex partnerships.
Unregistered cohabitation has been recognized since 1996. It applies to any couple living together in an economic and sexual relationship (common-law marriage), including same-sex couples. No official registration is required. The law gives some specified rights and benefits to two persons living together. These rights and benefits are not automatically given - they must be applied for to the social department of the local government in each case. An amendment was made to the Civil Code: "Partners - if not stipulated otherwise by law - are two people living in an emotional and economic community in the same household without being married." Widow-pension is possible, partners cannot be heirs by law (without the need for a will), but can be designated as testamentary heirs.
The Hungarian Parliament on the 21 April 2009 passed legislation by a vote of 199-159, called the Relationship Registory Act 2009 which allows same-sex couples to register their relationships so they can access the same rights, benefits and entitlements as opposite-sex couples (except for the right to marriage, adoption, IVF, surrogacy, taking a surname or become the legal guardian of their partner's child). The legislation does not allow opposite-sex couples to register their relationships (out of fear that there might be duplication under the law). The law will come into force from 1 July 2009 . According to polls, 60% of Hungarians support full same-sex marriage, and 50% support joint adoption.[Citation needed].
On June 11, 2010, a law was passed to make same-sex marriage legal in Iceland. The law took effect on June 27, 2010.
Irish law does not currently offer any legal protections to same-sex couples. The Civil Partnership Bill 2009 was introduced into Dáil Éireann on 3 December 2009. It is expected to pass easily. It would grant many rights to same-sex couples by offering civil partnerships to them. It would also give new protections to cohabitating couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex.
In December 2005, the Latvian Parliament passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga signed the amendment shortly afterward, making Latvia the third (after Poland and Lithuania) member state of the European Union to constitutionally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The Netherlands became the first country in the world to recognize same-sex marriages on April 1, 2001.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Norway. The Norwegian government proposed a marriage law on March 14, 2008, that would give gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, including church weddings, adoption and assisted pregnancies. On May 29, 2008, the Associated Press reported that two Norwegian Opposition parties came out in favor of the new bill, assuring the bill's passage when the vote was held on June 11. Prior to this, there were some disagreements with members of the three-party governing coalition on whether the bill had enough votes to pass. With this, it became almost certain that the bill would pass.
The first hearings and the vote were held, and passed, on June 11, 2008. 84 votes for and 41 against. This also specified that when a woman who is married to another woman becomes pregnant through artificial insemination, the partner would have all the rights of parenthood "from the moment of conception".
Norway was also the second country to legalize registered civil unions, doing so in 1993. Since January 1, 2009, all civil unions registered from 1993-2008 were upon request by the couples upgraded to marriage status.
Portugal is one of the few countries in the world that has a constitution that bans any form of discrimination based on one's sexual orientation, along with race, religion, etc.
On March 2001, the Socialist government of then Prime Minister António Guterres introduced legislation that would extend to same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples living in a de facto union for more than two years. This, effectively provides same-sex couples with the possibility to register their partnership as a Civil Union.
Same-sex marriage has been the source of debate since on February 2006 a lesbian couple were denied a marriage license. They have taken their case to court based on the ban to discrimination based on one's sexual orientation as stipulated by the 1976 constitution. Prime Minister José Sócrates of the Socialist Party was reelected on September 2009 and included same-sex marriage in his party program. There is now a majority of the left in the Parliament, with all the left parties in favor of same-sex marriage. A bill that recognizes same-sex marriage was proposed by the government and approved by parliament on January 8, 2010. The Portuguese President did ratify the bill on May 17, 2010. The law became effective on the 5th of June 2010, after publication in the official gazette, on the 31st of May. The first marriages was celebrated on the 7th June 2010 between Teresa Pires and Helena Paixão, the same lesbian couple that was denied a marriage licence in 2006.
In July 2006, Slovenia became the first former Yugoslav country to recognize domestic partnerships nationwide. In December 2009 the Slovenian government approved a new Family Code, which includes same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. The bill has been sent to Parliament to vote on the matter.
Spain became the third country in the world (after the Netherlands and Belgium) to legalize same-sex marriage. After being elected in June 2004, Spanish prime minister Zapatero restated his pre-election pledge to push for legalization of same-sex marriage. On October 1, 2004, the Spanish Government approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, including adoption rights. The bill received full parliamentary approval on June 30, 2005 and passed into law on July 2, becoming fully legal on July 3. Polls suggest that 62% to 66% of Spain supports same-sex marriage.
Following a bill introduced jointly by six of the seven parties in the Riksdag, a gender-neutral marriage law was adopted on April 1, 2009. It came into force on May 1, replacing the old legislation on so-called registered partnerships. On October 22, the assembly of the Church of Sweden (which is no longer officially the national church but whose assent was needed for the new practice to work smoothly within its ranks) voted strongly in favor of giving its blessing. The second and third largest Christian denominations in the country, the Roman Catholic church and the Pentecostalist Movement of Sweden are not expected to follow within the foreseeable future.
Although same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Turkey since 1858, there is no recognition of same-sex relationships in Turkey.
On 18 November 2004 the United Kingdom Parliament passed the Civil Partnership Act, which came into force in December 2005 and allows same-sex couples to register their partnership. The government stressed during the passage of the bill that it is not same-sex marriage, and some gay activists have criticized the act for not using the terminology of marriage. However, the rights and duties of partners under this legislation are almost exactly the same as for married couples. An amendment proposing similar rights for family members living together was rejected. The press is widely referring to these unions as "gay marriage."
In Canada between 2003 and 2005, the provincial supreme courts of Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick as well as the Yukon Territory, ruled the prohibition of same-sex marriage to be contrary to the Charter of Rights, thus legalizing it in those jurisdictions. A similar ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada (Re Same-Sex Marriage) in December 2004 paved the way for national recognition of same-sex marriage. On July 20, 2005, the Canadian Parliament (a Liberal party minority government) passed the Civil Marriage Act, defining marriage nationwide as "the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others." This was challenged on December 7, 2006 by a motion tabled by the newly elected Conservative party, asking the government to introduce amendments to the Marriage Act to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples; it was defeated in the House of Commons by a vote of 175 to 123.
Canada does not have a residency requirement for marriage; consequently, many foreign couples have gone to Canada to marry, regardless of whether that marriage will be recognized in their home country. In fact, in some cases, a Canadian marriage has provided the basis for a challenge to the laws of another country, with cases in Ireland and Israel.
As of November 11, 2004 the Canadian federal government's immigration department, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), considers same-sex marriages performed in Canada valid for the purposes of sponsoring a spouse to immigrate. Canadian immigration authorities previously considered long-term, same-sex relationships to be equivalent to similar heterosexual relationships as grounds for sponsorship.
On 9 November 2006, Mexico City's unicameral Legislative Assembly passed and approved (43-17) a bill legalizing same-sex civil unions, under the name Ley de Sociedades de Convivencia (Law for Co-existence Partnerships), which became effective in 16 March 2007. The law recognizes property and inheritance rights to same-sex couples. On 11 January 2007, the northern state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, passed a similar bill (20-13), under the name Pacto Civil de Solidaridad (Civil Pact of Solidarity). Unlike Mexico City's law, once same-sex couples have registered in Coahuila, the state protects their rights no matter where they live in the country. Twenty days after the law had passed, the country's first same-sex civil union took place in Saltillo, Coahuila.
On 21 December 2009, Mexico City's Legislative Assembly legalized (39-20) same-sex marriages and adoption by same-sex couples. Eight days later, the law was enacted and became effective in March 2010. In January 2010, in the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora, a same-sex marriage bill has been proposed. In southeastern Tabasco, the state's largest political parties, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), have announced their support for same-sex marriage in the 2010 agenda. In the western state of Michoacán, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has announced it will propose bills concerning civil unions, same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in 2010. In neighboring Colima, governor Mario Anguiano Moreno has agreed to discuss the legalization of civil unions and adoption by same-sex couples.
In 2006, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision that it was not required by the constitution to recognize same-sex couples in family law. Legal recognition of same-sex unions has been considered by the Legislative Assembly.
Marriage laws in the United States are governed by the fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Consequently, recognition of same-sex marriages differs from state to state. Five U.S. states and the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) now perform same-sex marriages: Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (2009), Vermont (2009), New Hampshire (2010), and Washington D.C. (2010).
In 2005, California became the first state to pass a bill authorizing same-sex marriages without a court order, but this bill was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2008, the Supreme Court of California overturned a law banning same-sex marriages that had been passed by a voter initiative in 2000 (Proposition 22). The legal effect of the court ruling was curtailed by another voter initiative called Proposition 8 later that year. Proposition 8 was upheld by the California Supreme Court in 2009, but the court also ruled that marriages performed after its 2008 decision and before the passage of Proposition 8 remained legally valid. Attempts to overturn Proposition 8 by another voter initiative immediately followed the court's ruling. The validity of Proposition 8 under the United States Constitution is currently being challenged in a federal court case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which could potentially have an effect on all same-sex marriage bans nationwide.
Although marriage laws are the province of state law in the U.S., after the Hawaii State Supreme Court became the first U.S. state supreme court to rule that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples was discriminatory in 1993, the U.S. Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996. (Hawaii passed a constitutional amendment in 1998 that allowed the legislature to overturn the court's 1993 decision.)
DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and its purpose was to enable states to deny recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. During his political campaign, President Barack Obama vowed to overturn DOMA, and gay-rights groups have pressured Obama to come through on his promise. Because of DOMA, same-sex couples who marry in states that grant legal recognition are denied federal rights that attach to marriage, such as the right to petition a spouse to immigrate to the U.S.
DOMA is under challenge by three lawsuits. On March 3, 2009, GLAD filed a suit challenging DOMA in Federal District Court in Boston, Massachusetts on behalf of eight married couples and three surviving spouses from Massachusetts who have been denied federal legal protections available to spouses. On March 9, 2009, Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer filed a lawsuit challenging both DOMA and California's Proposition 8 as unconstitutional under U.S. federal law in Federal District Court in Santa Ana, California. On July 8, 2009, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit against DOMA in Federal District Court in Boston, Massachusetts against the Health and Human Services agency, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and those agencies' secretaries, claiming that Section 3 of DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution because it interferes with Massachusetts' "sovereign authority to define and regulate marriage." The federal court case on California's Proposition 8, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, could also have an effect on DOMA.
Legal recognition of same-sex unions without marriage
Several other states offer alternative legal certifications that recognize same-sex relationships. Before states enacted these laws, U.S. cities began offering recognition of these unions. These laws bestow marriage-like rights to these couples, and are referred to as civil unions, domestic partnerships, or reciprocal beneficiaries depending on the state. The extent to which these unions resemble marriage varies by state and several states have enhanced the rights afforded to them over time. The U.S. jurisdictions that use these forms of same-sex union recognition instead of marriage are: Hawaii (1997), California (1999), Maine (2004), New Jersey (2007), Washington (2007), Oregon (2008), Maryland (2008), Colorado (2009), Wisconsin (2009), and Nevada (2009).
States with constitutional or statutory bans on same-sex marriage or union recognition
Constitutional amendments in 29 states explicitly bar the recognition of same-sex marriages, and 18 of these states prohibit the legal recognition of any same-sex union. Another 14 states have legal statutes that define "marriage" as a union of two persons of the opposite sex.
An attempt to ban same-sex marriages and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico failed in 2008. Puerto Rico already banned same-sex marriage by statute.
States with neither bans on same-sex marriage nor legal recognition
There are four states that have no explicit bans against same-sex marriages nor laws that enable their legal recognition:
- Maryland: On February 24, 2010, the Attorney General of Maryland (Doug Gansler) released an opinion that same-sex marriages performed in other states could be recognized in Maryland. The opinion does not allow same-sex couples to wed in Maryland and is not legally binding, but is meant to serve as a guide for judges and state agencies.
- New York: In 2006, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the state had no constitutional obligation to recognize same-sex marriages. However, in 2008 the New York State Supreme Court Fourth Department ruled that the state was required to recognize legal out-of-state marriages whether they were same-sex or not, confirming multiple lower court rulings. That same year, New York Governor David Paterson issued a directive requiring that all state agencies recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
- Rhode Island: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 2006 that because Rhode Island law does not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage, Rhode Island same-sex couples may marry in Massachusetts.
In 2008, the Native American Coquille Nation passed a law recognizing same-sex marriage; it is believed to be the first tribal nation to do so. Although the Oregon voters approved an amendment to the Oregon Constitution in 2004 to prohibit such marriages, the Coquille are not bound by the Oregon Constitution, because they are a federally recognized sovereign nation.
After a Cherokee lesbian couple applied for a marriage license, the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council unanimously approved a Constitutional amendment in 2004 defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The couple appealed to the judicial court on grounds that their union predated the amendment, and on December 22, 2005 the Judicial Appeals Tribunal of the Cherokee Nation dismissed an injunction against the lesbian couple filed by members of the Tribal Council to stop the marriage. The couple would still need to file the marriage certificate for the marriage to become legal.
The Autonomous City of Buenos Aires (a federal district and capital city of the republic) allows same-sex civil unions. The province of Río Negro allows same-sex civil unions, too. Legislation to enact same-sex marriage across all of Argentina is under debate.
The Colombian Constitutional Court ruled in February 2007 that same-sex couples are entitled to the same inheritance rights as heterosexuals in common-law marriages. This ruling made Colombia the first South American nation to legally recognize gay couples. Furthermore, in January 2009, the Court ruled that same-sex couples must be extended all of the rights offered to cohabitating heterosexual couples.
The Ecuadorian new constitution has made Ecuador stand out in the region. Ecuador has become the only country in South America where same sex civil union couples are legally recognized as a family and share the same rights of married heterosexual couples.
Uruguay became the first country in South America to allow civil unions (for both opposite sex and same-sex couples) in a national platform on January 1, 2008.
Since August 2004, same-sex marriage became banned under an amended federal law Marriage Act 1961 (Amendment) Act 2004 so that neither a foreign same-sex marriage can be performed or recognised in the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961. This effectively banned same-sex marriage in Australia. The law, which prior to 2004, had not defined marriage specifically, appropriated marriage as the "voluntary union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others." In 1874 under the Hyde vs. Hyde case marriage was defined in the common law as a "voluntary union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others." Neither Civil partnerships nor civil unions are recognised by the Commonwealth Government, either. The Federal Opposition, namely the Australian Labor Party under the leadership of Mark Latham, joined with the Government to support the ban, amid strong objection from the Australian Democrats and The Greens. It was passed on August 13, 2004 as effective from the day of assent. In June 2009, polling showed that 60 percent of Australians support same-gender marriage (Galaxy).
The states of New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria as well as the Australian Capital Territory have a "registered partnership" system that is available for all couples. These state-level registered relationships are recognised on both the state and Commonwealth Government levels. Even some councils such as Sydney, Melbourne and Yarra also provide a relationship register for symbolic recognition, but provides no legal recognition. However, all Government levels of Australia have some form of "de-facto status recognition" or "common-law marriage" that recognises both same sex and opposite sex couples, called "unregistered co-habitation".
In New Zealand civil unions, which impart all of the same rights and privileges as marriage, are allowed.
The religious status of same-sex marriage has been changing since the late 20th century and varies greatly. Reformed traditions in Western societies (Liberal Christian denominations, Reform Judaism, and Unitarian churches) tend to be more receptive to the idea than orthodox or conservative ones, but many others, particularly mainline Protestant churches, are deeply divided over the issue.
Many religious institutions that do recognize same-sex marriage avoid using the terms "marriages" or "weddings", and instead call them "blessings" or "unions." How and to what degree these institution embrace the idea varies, often by congregation. These institutions have recognized same-sex marriage or encourage it in their congregations in some fashion, either simply as marriage or some kind blessing or union:
The following denominations accept same-sex unions to some degree:
- Anglican Diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia (which includes Greater Vancouver) decided to allow blessing of same-sex unions in 2002—in response, bishops from Africa, Asia and Latin America, representing more than one-third of Anglican Communion members worldwide, cut their relations with the diocese. From September 1, 2009, the Diocese of Niagara clergy in the diocese in Ontario have the discretion to bless same-gender civil marriages in consultation with the bishop. Two other dioceses – Montréal and Ottawa – have also informed the house of bishops about their intention to move ahead with same-sex blessings.
- British Quakers, some American Quaker meetings (see Homosexuality and Quakerism). (1987)
- Episcopal Church (United States) bless same-sex unions
- Lutheran (Europe)
- In the Netherlands and in Switzerland the reformed church allows blessings of married same-sex couples.
- In Germany some Lutheran and reformed churches in the EKD permit their priests also blessings of same-sex couples.
- On 22 October 2009, the governing board of the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden voted 176–62 in favour of allowing its priests to wed same-sex couples in new gender-neutral church ceremonies, including the use of the term marriage. Same-sex marriages in the church will be available starting 1 November 2009.
- Metropolitan Community Church perform same-sex marriages,
- United Church of Canada variously bless same-sex unions or allow same-sex marriages in the church—several Canadian religious groups joined in an interfaith coalition in support of equal marriage rights, and issued a joint statement: http://www.religious-coalition.org/
- United Church of Christ (2005) -- the specifics of the resolution did not change any church's religious marriage policies, but urged UCC congregations to advocate for civil marriage equality. In keeping with the polity of that denomination, doctrinal matters like wedding policies remain under the authority of each local congregation.
- Old Catholic ChurchTemplate:Clarify
- Liberal Catholic ChurchTemplate:Clarify
- Union for Reform Judaism (Reform Judaism)
- Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (Reconstructionist Judaism) - Left up to the individual rabbi.
- Unitarian Universalist
- Japanese Buddhism—although there is no same-sex marriage in Japan itself, authorities in Buddhist sects based in Japan recognise Buddhist same-sex unions performed elsewhere.
Debated or divided
In many religious traditions, the adherents are deeply divided over the issue, often alongside other contentious issues, such as having women in leadership positions or legalizing abortions. The institutions within the following traditions are either debating the issue or have policies that vary according to congregation:
The religious traditions or institutions that do not recognize same-sex marriage tend to view homosexuality as immoral. The degree to which it is considered immoral—or even whether or it is immoral at all—often varies according to the adherents within them, especially in large institutions like the Roman Catholic Church. These traditions or institutions do not recognize same-sex unions in any form or in any congregation:
- Roman Catholic Church.
A Vatican document approved by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI in 2003  regards homosexuality as an "intrinsical disorder", claims that a "person engaging in homosexual behaviour acts immorally" and "reminds the governments of the need to contain the phenomenon [of homosexuality] within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality". The Catholic international organization We are Church is "committed to change in the Church's official and theological approach to homosexual people".
- Eastern Orthodox Church
- Southern Baptists
- Latter-day Saints
- Adoption by same-sex couples
- Blessing of same-sex unions in Christian churches
- Marriage, unions and partnerships by country
- Religion and sexuality
- Same-sex controversy in the U.S. Census 2000
- Same-sex marriage
- Societal attitudes toward homosexuality
- Timeline of same-sex marriage
- Uniting American Families Act
- List of LGBT couples
- Marriage privatization
- Divorce of same-sex couples (legal aspects, divorce rates)
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- S. Lynne Walker (5 March 2007). New law propels gay rights in Mexico. Mail & Guardian Online. Retrieved on 15 December 2009.
- Associated Press (1 February 2007). Mexico's first civil union. Gay.com UK & Ireland. Retrieved on 15 December 2009.
- Associated Press (21 December 2009). Mexico City 1st in region to approve gay marriage. Archived from the original on 25 December 2009. Retrieved on 21 December 2009.
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- Template:Sp icon Ulises Gutiérrez (13 January 2010). Proponen matrimonio homosexual en Sonora. La Jornada. Retrieved on 16 January 2010.
- Template:Sp icon Fernando Hernández (15 January 2010). A favor PRI y PRD del aborto y matrimonios gays. El Heraldo de Tabasco. Retrieved on 21 January 2010.
- Template:Sp icon Nicolás Casimiro (25 December 2009). Matrimonios gay y despenalización del aborto, en la agenda del PRD para 2010. Quadratín. Retrieved on 26 December 2009.
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- California ballot initiatives (Nr.1298)
- Online NewsHour: The Battle Over Same Sex Marriage - The Defense of Marriage Act
- Suit Seeks to Force Government to Extend Benefits to Same-Sex Couples
- “DOMA” Means Federal Discrimination Against Married Same-Sex Couples
- Smelt v. United States of America Notice of Removal. United States District Court - Southern Division. Retrieved on 2009-05-10.
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- Statewide Marriage Prohibitions
- Constitutional Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage in Puerto Rico Fails
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- Graves, Bill. "Gay marriage in Oregon? Tribe says yes", The Oregonian, August 20, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-07.
- Cherokee High Court Rules in Favor of NCLR and Same-Sex Couple
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- Episcopal Bishops Give Ground on Gay Marriage
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- Church of Sweden to conduct gay weddings, UPI, October 22, 2009.
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- Mormonism and Christianity
- The supreme body of Sikhism condemned same-sex marriage in 2005
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- http://www.realbenidorm.net/gaybenidorm - For latest info on gay marriage in Benidorm on the Spanish Costa Blanca
LGBT and Queer studies
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