Same-sex marriages (SSM), civil unions, etc.
Brief reports of activities in other countries:
Finland, Portugal and Uruguay
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
As of 2013, Finland is the only remaining Nordic country that does not allow same-sex marriage (SSM). Norway and Sweden approved SSM in 2009; Iceland followed in 2010; Denmark followed in 2012.
- 2013-FEB-27: A SSM bill died in Parliamentary committee: A bill to legalize same-sex marriage died in the Finnish Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee by a narrow 8:9 vote. Same-sex couples can register their relationships and obtain some rights. However, they are not permitted to adopt children. 14
- 2013-MAR-19: The Tahdon2013 ("I Do 2013") campaign started to collect signatures on a petition to have Parliament consider marriage equality. The Parliament is required by law to consider any petition with more than 50,000 signatures. The group's goal is ten times that minimum. 14
- 2013-SEP-03: A poll by the polling agency Taloustutkimus showed that 58% of Finnish adults favor SSM. This is slightly more supportive of SSM than are Americans, but less supportive than Canadians. As with polls in other countries those under 35 are more supportive and most of those over 65 oppose marriage equality. Just over 51% would grant equal adoption rights to same-sex couples. 1,002 adults were polled. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points. 15
- 2013-SEP-19: After six months, the petition approaches completion. So far, 162,000 signatures have been collected. The collection concludes on SEP-26. 16
- 2006-FEB-02: Helena Paixao, 35, and Teresa Pires, 28, applied for a marriage license. As expected, they were refused because they were of the same sex. They had been living together for three years. They planned to appeal. Their lawyers were considering a court challenge based on Portugal's constitution. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Since 2001, the country allows same-sex couples to register for civil unions. This gives them certain limited legal, tax and property rights. However, they are only a fraction of the rights automatically received by by every married opposite-sex couple. They are not allowed to take the last name of their partner, or to inherit their partner's posessions, or to inherit their partner's state pension.. The same couple was still together four years later and became the first married same-sex couple in Portugal. 1
- 2010-JAN-08: It is perhaps surprising to many people that Portugal would consider creating same-sex civil marriages. After all, about 97% of the population consider themselves to be Roman Catholic and that church is totally opposed to marriage equality because of their interpretation of natural law. However, against all odds, SSM did come to Portugal in 2010.
A government bill to legalize same-sex marriage was approved in principle by Portugal's parliament. It had the support of the governing Socialist Party and some other smaller left-wing parties. It was fiercely and passionately opposed by conservative parties and by the Roman Catholic Church who attempted to force a national referendum. A petition calling for a referendum had gathered 80,000 signatures -- a small number for a country with a total population of ten million. However, this was insufficient and was rejected.
Conservatives attempted to promote a civil union law as a substitute for full marriage. This is a common tactic seen in other countries: conservatives start by advocating no recognition of same-sex relationships at all. Then popular support for same-sex marriage reaches a critical level. Conservatives suddenly suggest a compromise in the form of civil unions that would give loving, committed same-sex couples the same rights and protections for themselves and their children as married couples receive, without the use of the name "marriage." The civil union proposal was also rejected by the Socialists as a discriminatory measure.
The bill was then sent to a Parliamentary committee for review. 2
- 2010-APR: The Constitutional Court confirmed the constitutionality of the bill.
- 2010-MAY-17: President Anibal Cavaco Silva announced that he was ratifying the bill, thus making Portugal the sixth European nation to legalize same-sex marriage, after Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway. Silva had taken this action reluctantly and was against his "personal convictions." He did not veto the bill because there were sufficient votes in the legislature to easily override the veto. Noting that the country was in a serious financial crisis, he said: "I feel I should not contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only serve to deepen the divisions between the Portuguese and divert the attention of politicians away from the grave problems affecting us."
BBC News reported:
"Cavaco Silva's announcement came three days after Pope Benedict XVI left Portugal. During his four-day visit, which attracted hundreds of thousands of people, the pontiff said same-sex marriage, and abortion [access], were some of the most 'insidious and dangerous' threats facing the world."
Vitalino Canas, spokesperson for the Socialist Party said:
"This is a memorable moment. This is a great step forward for us politically and as a society."
Antonio Serzedelo, president of gay-positive lobby group Opus Gay, congratulated the president for placing "... ethical responsibility above personal opinions." 3
- 2010-JUN-07: Helena Paixao and Teresa Pires returned to a Lisbon registry office and became the first same-sex couple to marry under the new law. They have been together since 2003. They described their marriage as a: "... great victory, a dream come true." They have all of the rights of opposite-sex married couples, except for the right to adopt a child. 4
On 2007-DEC-18, Uruguay's lower House -- the Chamber of Deputies -- and the upper House, -- the Chamber of Senators -- unanimously passed a bill
that allows any loving committed couple -- whether opposite sex
or same-sex -- to enter into a civil union and obtain rights and
obligations similar to that given to married couples, including
heath benefits, inheritance, parenting and pension rights. Before applying for a civil
union, a couple has to live together for five years, and register
The legislation was opposed by the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church who
pressured Catholic legislators to vote against it. The Episcopal
"In no way can homosexual cohabitation be accepted because it does not
meet the basic criteria defining marriage, it is therefore
unacceptable to place it in suchlike equal level." 5
Five years later, during 2012-DEC, the Chamber of Deputies passed a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry. The vote was 81 to 6. The upper house, the Uruguayan Senate, passed a similar bill on 2013-APR-02 with a vote of 28 to 8. The Senate bill now returns to the Chamber of Deputies for another vote. This is expected by the end of April. President Jose Mujica has said he intends to sign the bill.
Laws In many Hispanic countries require children to carry the last names of both the father and the mother. With the proposed bill, same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples will be able to decide which name comes first. The bill also raises the minimum age for marriage which is now 12 for girls and 14 for boys! It will be 16 for everyone.
Evan Wolfson, president of the pro-equality group Freedom to Marry, said in a statement:
"Freedom to Marry applauds the people of Uruguay and their government for moving forward into a future in which all loving and committed couples can share in the freedom to marry and the meaning and protections marriage brings to families. Uruguay's vote today to move past civil union to marriage itself, Argentina's enactment of the freedom to marry in 2010, and the Mexico Supreme Court's unanimous ruling last month in favor of the freedom to marry — citing the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia — all are inspirations and examples decision-makers here in the United States, including our Supreme Court justices, should swiftly follow to get the U.S. where it needs to be."
Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Program at Human Rights Watch said:
"Uruguayan senators made the right decision by allowing same-sex couples to marry. Final approval will enable gays and lesbians in Uruguay to marry the person they love and will strengthen the fundamental rights of everyone in Uruguay to equality and non-discrimination."
If all goes as expected, same-sex couples should be able to marry in 2013-JUL or AUG. According to the Star Observer in Australia:
"Recent polls have show a majority of Uruguayans are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage." 8
The bill was signed into law on 2013-MAY-03 by the President. Uruguay became the 14th country in the world which has legalized same-sex marriage. 6,7,13 The others are Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.
The law became effective on 2013-AUG-01.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Portugal blocks lesbian marriage," BBC News, 2006-FEB-02, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
- "Same-sex marriage law backed in Portugal's parliament," BBC News, 2010-JAN-08, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
- "Portugal ratifies gay marriage law," The Express (UK), 2010-MAY-18, at: http://www.express.co.uk/
- "Portugal lesbian couple in nation's first gay marriage," BBC News, 2010-JUN-07, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/
- Uruguay Passes Homosexual Civil Union Law. First Latin
American country to cave in to mounting homosexual rights
pressure,"LifeSiteNews.com, 2007-DEC-20, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/
- "Uruguay Senate passes Freedom to Marry legislation," Windy City Times, 2013-APR-02, at: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/
- Ken Williams, "Uruguay legalizes marriage equality," San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, 2013-APR-02, at: http://sdgln.com
- "Marriage bill passes Senate vote," Star Observer, 2013-APR-10, at: http://www.starobserver.com.au/
- "Neil Sands, "New Zealand set to legalise gay marriage," AFP, 2013-APR-16, at: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/
- "New Zealand legalises same-sex marriage," BBC News/Asia, 2013-APR-13, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
- "New Zealand lawmakers approve gay-marriage bill," Associated Press, 2013-APR-27, at: 2013-APR-17.
- Nick Perry, "N Zealand is 13th country to legalize gay marriage," Associated Press, 2013-APR-17, at: http://www.kmph.com/
- "Same-sex marriage in Uruguay," Wikipedia, as on 2013-, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
- "Parliamentary committee narrowly blocks same-sex marriage," Uutiset News, 2013-FEB-27, at: http://yle.fi/
- "Poll: Over half of Finns favour same-sex marriage law," Uutiset News, 2013-SEP-03, at: http://yle.fi/uutiset/
- "Gay marriage initiative proceeds to Parliament with 162,000 backers," Uutiset News, 2013-SEP-19, at: http://yle.fi/
How you got here:
Copyright © 2002 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2002-SEP-24
Latest update: 2013-SEP-24
Author: B.A. Robinson