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Same-sex marriages (SSM), civil unions, etc.

Activities in other countries:
Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxemburg, and Mexico


See the same-sex marriage menu for information on marriages, civil unions, family partnerships,
etc. in the U.S., Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and Switzerland.

See another essay for activities in Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, & England

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  • 2001: The German Parliament passed a law recognized same-sex unions. They may take each other's names, must support each other financially, and may divorce and demand alimony.

  • 2003-JUL: Germany's Supreme Court upheld the country's civil union law which gives some of the benefits of marriage to registered same-sex couples. German cardinal Karl Lehman of the Roman Catholic Church condemned this decision as "a hard blow to marriage and the family." He said in a Vatican Radio interview: "Now the associations of homosexuals have a potent arm to obtain further concessions on the road toward full equality with married couples, including the right to adoption." 1
  • 2004-OCT-29: The Cardinal's prediction came true. The German parliament voted to extend additional rights to same-sex couples. They are not compelled to testify against each other in court. Widows and widowers can obtain a state pension. They can adopt the biological children of their spouses. The bill was supported by the ruling Social Democrats and the Greens, and some liberal Free Democrats, but opposed by conservative parties. Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said: "Same-sex partnerships are a reality in Germany. But gays and lesbians are still not treated equally in how they are able to live their lives, and there is no reason for that." About 5,000 civil unions have been registered since 2001. About 8,000 children are being raised by same-sex couples. 2

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The parliament passed legislation in 2007 that would allow unmarried opposite-sex or same-sex couples register their union beginning on 2009-JAN-01. This would have given the registering couples almost the same rights and protections as have been enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.

The Constitutional Court annulled the law on 2008-DEC-15, stating that it "downgraded" the institution of marriage.

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  • 2009-FEB-02: The Social Democratic Alliance Party in Iceland chose Johanna Sigurdardottir, the former social affairs minister, to lead the Government. She thus became the world's first openly lesbian head of state: She is in a three decade long same-sex relationship with prominent writer Honina Leosdottir. 3

  • 2010-JUN-11: The Icelandic Parliament voted unanimously (49 to 0) to change the country's marriage laws to include unions between "man and man" and "women and women" in addition to opposite-sex unions. The law states that clergy will be "... free to perform [same-sex] marriage ceremonies, but will never be obliged to." 4

    Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland said: "The attitude in Iceland is fairly pragmatic. It (same-sex marriage) has not been a big issue in national politics -- it's not been controversial." 5

    The main religious group in Ireland is the Evangelical Lutheran Church. It has yet to decide whether to allow same-sex marriages in its churches.

  • 2010-JUN-27: Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir and Honina Leosdottir were married in church on the same day that same-sex marriages first became available in the country.

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Information on SSM in Ireland has been moved to a separate essay.

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Same-sex couples will be able to marry in this country effective 2015-JAN-01.

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  • 2009-DEC-21: Mexico city passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage: By a vote of 39 to 20, with five abstentions, Mexico City legislative assembly approved a bill to revise the civil code to define marriage as "the free uniting of two people." Previously, loving, committed same-sex couples were only able to obtain civil unions in the city. The marriage bill enables same-sex couples 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."

    Others were not impressed. Armando Martinez, president of the College of Catholic Attorneys, said that city legislators had:

    "... given Mexicans the most bitter Christmas. They are permitting adoption [by same-sex couples], and in one stroke of the pen have erased the terms mother and father."

    That is not really accurate, because the vast majority of future marriages -- certainly in excess of 95% -- will be between one woman and one man. If they have children, the terms mother and father will still apply. However, perhaps 5% of future marriages will be between two women or two men. If they have children, then their children will still have two parents. However, they will be two parents of the same gender.

    The conservative National Action party planned to mount a court challenge. 8

  • 2010-MAR-05: Same-sex couples began registering for marriage licenses, starting today, when Latin Americas first same-sex marriage law took effect. They will be able to use their licenses in a week to ten days after the paperwork is processed. This raised the number of political jurisdictions offering marriage equality in North America to 20. 8 Three years later, it had risen to 24: ten provinces and three territories in Canada, the District of Columbia and nine states in the U.S. and Mexico City in Mexico.
  • 2012-DEC-05: Earlier, Oaxaca State in southern Mexico had passed a law that banned same-sex marriages. It claims that "one of the purposes of marriage is the perpetuation of the species." The legislators may not have been aware of the large percentage of same-sex couples in marriages who create and raise children. A lawsuit was launched by three gay couples to challenge the constitutionality of the state law. In an unanimous decision on DEC-05, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled that restricting marriages to one woman and one man "violates the principle of equality." 9 In support of their ruling, they referred to

    "In the celebrated case of Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court argued that '[r]estricting marriage rights as belonging to one race or another is incompatible with the equal protection clause' under the U.S. Constitution. In connection with this analogy, we can say that the normative power to get married is of little use if the opportunity to marry the person one chooses is not granted." 10

    However, this ruling will not produce any immediate change. Mexican law requires two more similar rulings by the Supreme Court of Mexico before same-sex marriage will be legal in Oaxaca State. In order to become legal in each of the other 30 states, five lawsuits declaring their marriage law unconstitutional would be required. In total 152 additional successful lawsuits would be needed! That is because each state has its own civil laws. 11

    Jaime Lopez, president of a gay-positive group in Mexico said:

    "This makes it possible for the new generations of gays to see some hope that Mexico will recognize their rights, and that they can one day live their sexuality openly. ... This ruling makes it possible for people to file similar lawsuits throughout the country."

    Gerardo Rojas, 43, said:

    "Within our community there will be people who won't want to get married, but there are also people who are conscious of their role in society and will want to formalize their relationships through marriage."11

  • 2014-SEP-01: The state of Coahuila has followed the lead of Mexico City and is now recognizing marriage by same-sex couples. This state is in Northern Mexico and shares a border with Texas. Back in 2007, they passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. However, they were unable to adopt or have their relationship recognized for social security purposes. Like the U.S., the definition of marriage is left up to the individual states. Thus Mexico will have a patchwork of laws with same-sex married couples losing their status as they travel within the country -- just like the U.S.

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The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Victor Simpson, "Vatican seeks to stop move toward same-sex unions," Associated Press, at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
  2. Tisha Steyn, "Germany extends gay rights," News24.com, at: http://www.news24.com/
  3. "Lesbian in Charge," Star Observer, Australia, 2009-FEB-04, at: http://www.starobserver.com.au
  4. "Iceland legalizes same-sex marriage," Star Observer, Australia, 42010-JUN-26, at: http://www.starobserver.com.au/
  5. "Iceland passes gay marriage law in unanimous vote," Reuters, 2010-JUN-11, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  6. Andrea Botha, "Irish Ruling on gay marriage," 2004-SEP-11, News24.com, at: http://www.news24.com/
  7. Liam Reid and Joe Humphreys, "Gay marriage under focus in review of family rights," The Irish Times, 2004-OCT-18, at: http://www.ireland.com/
  8. "Mexico City legalizes same-sex marriage," Associated Press, 2009-DEC-22, at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/
  9. "Mexico's Supreme Court Declares Anti-Gay Marriage Law Unconstitutional ," Huffington Post, 2012-DEC-06, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  10. Marya Hannun, "For a lesson on marriage equality, look to Mexico (which looked to the U.S.)," Foreign Policy, 2013-MAR-29, at: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/
  11. E. Eduardo Castillo, "Experts: Mexico ruling opens door to gay marriage," Huffington Post, 2012-DEC-06, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
  12. Joseph Patrick McCormick, "Ireland to hold referendum on equal marriage in 2014," Pink News, 2013-JUN-24, at: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/
  13. "," 2007-FEB-23, RT News, at: http://www.rte.ie/
  14. "Marriage v Civil Partnership FAQs," Marriage Equality, at: http://www.marriagequality.ie/
  15. "Millward Brown (Lansdowne) Polling Highlights 2012," Marriage Equality, at: http://www.marriagequality.ie/
  16. "Countdown to KAL," Marriage Equality, at: http://www.marriagequality.ie/

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Site navigation: Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu > here

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Copyright © 2002 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-SEP-24
Latest update: 2014-SEP-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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