Same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions
Timeline of major U.S. & world
|2009-FEB-26: Rhode Island: A bill to legalize SSM was introduced
into the Senate Judiciary Committee. Similar bills have been introduced
each year since 1997. All have failed to proceed. The latest poll indicates a
high level of support for SSM among the general public, in spite of -- or
perhaps because of -- the strong position of the Roman Catholic Church. Rhode
Island has the highest percentage of Catholics of any state in the U.S. The parliament is expected to approve a SSM bill in early 2013-MAY. More information.
|2009-APR-03: Iowa: The state Supreme Court continued Iowa's
traditional respect for civil rights when the justices unanimously voted to
legalize SSM. The existing marriage law was seen to violate the equal
protection clause of the Iowa constitution. Same-sex marriages begin in late
April. More information.
|2009-APR-08: Vermont: The Vermont Legislature successfully overrode
their Governor's veto of a SSM bill. Loving, committed same-sex couples were able to obtain
marriage licenses starting on 2009-SEP-01. More information.
|2009-MAY-06: Maine: John Baldacci (D), the governor of Maine,
signed into law a bill that had just been approved by the Legislature to
legalize SSM in the state. It came into effect in 2009-JUN after the
current legislative session ends. Subsequently, a citizen initiative terminate future SSMs. Finally, on election day in 2012-MOV, by a second citizen initiative, same-sex marriages were made available once more. More information.
|2009-JUN-03: New Hampshire: A bill legalizing SSM was approved by the legislature and
signed into law by Governor Lynch. More information.
|2009-JUN-26: Ireland: The Civil Partnership Bill was
published. For the first time, this gives same-sex couples the opportunity to
register their relationships and gain a number of rights "expected to include
succession rights, protection of a home that a couple shares, plus support
rights in the event of a separation."
|2009-JUL-07: District of Columbia: On MAY-05, the Washington city council approved unanimously a resolution to
recognize legal SSMs performed outside the District of Columbia. There was no
veto by Congress, which has to review city council resolutions, and so the
resolution became effective on JUL-07.
|2009-JUL-15: Venezuela: The Organic Law for Gender Equity and
Equality which would create civil unions for same-sex couples passed first
reading. Laws protecting gays and lesbians were repealed due to pressure from
the Catholic church.
|2009-SEP-01: Maine: Loving, committed same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses. More info.
|2009-NOV-03: Maine: On Election day, voters in Maine very narrowly repealed the
same-sex marriage law in that state. This is one of a few cases in which SSMs were approved in a state and shortly afterwards made unavailable. If a same-sex couple wants to get married, they might consider marrying as soon as possible. Sometimes the window when marriage is available can be as short as a few hours.
|2009-DEC-10: Austria: Parliament passed legislation to
create civil unions for same-sex couples that would also offer protection to
their children. It will come into effect on 2010-JAN-01. Lawmakers passed the
measure with a vote of 110 to 64. Same-sex couples will obtain the same
financial rights as opposite-sex couples including in taxation, pension and
maintenance. However they will not be eligible to adopt children or receive
fertility treatments. Upon the insistence of The People's Party -- a
conservative group -- same-sex couples would not be granted at local registry
offices as opposite-sex couples can. Instead, same-sex couples would have to
register their civil unions at the municipal office or the magistrate's
office. Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, the women's affairs minister of the
ruling Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) assured lesbians, gays and
bisexuals that the restrictions are temporary until the next round of
|2009-DEC-18: Washington DC's mayor, Mayor Adrian M, Fenty (D),
signed the bill into law. It then faced four hurdles to overcome. Religious
conservatives tried to implement a referendum to repeal the law. Congress
had up to 30 legislative days to veto the law. A bill was introduced in Congress to force a public referendum on SSM. Finally, an injunction was sought from the U.S. Supreme Court. The law survived all of these
attacks. Same-sex couples were able to be married in early 2010-MAR. More details.
|2009-DEC-21: Mexico: Mexico city approved bill to legalize same-sex marriage: Mexico City became the first city in Latin America to pass a bill legalizing SSM.
If signed into law, the bill would define marriage as "the free uniting of two people."
Currently, loving, committed same-sex couples were only able to obtain civil
unions in the city. The marriage law would enable them to apply for bank loans,
inherit, be included in each other's insurance plans, etc. Victor Romo of the Democratic Revolution Party said: "For centuries, unjust laws banned
marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans. Today, all
barriers have disappeared."
|2009-DEC-28: Argentina: Jose Maria Di Bello (L) and his
partner Alex Freyre were married at a government registry office in Ushuaia,
the southern-most city in the world. It is located in Tierra del Fuego
province at the southern tip of Argentina. They became the first same-sex
couple in Latin America to marry. Their marriage was first accepted and then
denied in Buenos Aires. Then it was first denied and then accepted in Ushuaia.
Di Bello, 41, is an executive at the Argentine Red Cross. Freyre, 39, is the
executive director of the Buenos Aries AIDS Foundation. Both of them are HIV
positive. More info.
|Other U.S. states: legislative campaigns were active during 2009
York, and New Jersey. Neither succeeded.
|2010-MAR-03: Washington DC: All attempts by religious and social conservatives to stall SSM having failed, marriage licenses for loving, committed same-sex couples became available in the District of Columbia. More details.
|2010-MAY: Argentina: The lower house in the Argentinian government passed a same-sex marriage bill. More details.
2010-JUN-07: Portugal: A few days after Pope Benedict XVI left Portugal to return to the Vatican, the president of Portugal signed a SSM bill into law. The first same-sex marriage was performed in a registry office in Lisbon on JUN-07. More details.
|2010-JUN-27: Iceland: Following an unanimous vote by the country's parliament, SSM became available in Iceland. On that date, Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, the world's first openly lesbian government head, married prominent writer Honina Leosdottir. They had been in a three-decade-long same-sex relationship. More details.|
|2010-JUL-15: Argentina: The government's upper house passed a same-sex marriage bill with a comfortable majority. More details.|
|2011-JUN-01: IL: A state law passed earlier in Illinois that allows loving, committed couples to enter into civil unions became effective on this date. More details.
|2010-JUN-24: NY: A bill was passed by the Legislature and signed into law that allows same-sex couples to marry. It becomes effective in late 2011-JUL. More details.|
|2012-FEB-13: WA: Governore Christine Gregoire (D) signed a same-sex marriage bill into law. As written, it would have become effective in 2012-JUN. However, groups opposed to SSM are expected to mount a referendum that will delay activation of the law until at least after election day in 2012-NOV. More details.
|2013-APR: RI. A bill to legalize SSM in Rhode Island was passed by both the House and Senate. Because of amendments, the bill must go through a procedural vote in the House. Then it must be signed into law by the Governor who strongly supports the bill. SSM is expected to become law during early 2013-MAY. More details.
Apology: Somehow, at least one browser program deletes the outline of countries that do not provide SSM from the above image. Sorry about that. Most browsers do show the outlines.
Current status of SSM in the U.S., Canada, Europe, etc. Includes map of the U.S.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
This page translator works on Firefox,