Along with New Zealand, Australia became the second country in the Asia-Pacific region to to make same-sex marriage legal.
Germany On June 30, , Germany became the 15th European country to enact legislation allowing same-sex couples to wed. Colombia On April 28, , Colombia became the fourth country in Catholic-majority South America to legalize same-sex marriage, following Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. United States Eleven years after same-sex marriage was first made legal in Massachusetts, the U. Before the ruling, 36 states and the District of Columbia had legalized same-sex marriage. See a timeline highlighting changes in state policies from Ireland On May 22, , Catholic-majority Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular referendum.
Finland Same-sex marriage will become legal in Finland starting in Finland becomes the last of the five Nordic countries to legalize same-sex marriage, joining Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. In addition to allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt, the legislation sets the legal age of marriage at 18 and eliminates the existing requirement that couples who want to marry must first submit to a medical exam.
Scotland On Feb. In addition to allowing same-sex couples to wed, the measure gives churches and other religious groups the option of deciding whether or not they want to conduct such marriages. The two largest churches in Scotland — the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church — oppose same-sex marriage and lobbied against the bill. The law took effect and same-sex couples began marrying in Scotland in December The day before, the measure had won final passage in the British Parliament after months of debate.
The law only applies to England and Wales because Scotland and Northern Ireland are semi-autonomous and have separate legislative bodies to decide many domestic issues, including the definition of marriage. The new law in England and Wales, which was a priority for British Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron, allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry beginning March 29, However, the law prohibits same-sex weddings within the Church of England, which continues to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
France On May 18, French President Francois Hollande signed into law a measure legalizing same-sex marriage, making France the 14th country to grant gays and lesbians the right to wed. True to their campaign promises, Hollande and the Socialists have pushed through a law that not only legalizes same-sex marriage but also gives gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt children—a provision that has drawn especially strong criticism from French Catholic leaders. While recent polls show that a majority of French adults support the law, opposition to the change has been intense.
Since the beginning of , several anti-gay marriage protests with occasionally volatile crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands have taken place in Paris and elsewhere. New Zealand On April 17, the New Zealand Parliament gave final approval to a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage, making the Pacific island nation the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to allow gays and lesbians to wed.
The law took effect in August In , New Zealand enacted legislation allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. The measure not only legalizes same-sex marriage but also allows for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. Civil unions have been permitted in Uruguay since , and gay and lesbian couples were given adoption rights in Uruguay is among the most secular countries in Latin America. A Pew Research Center study on the global religious landscape as of found that roughly four-in-ten Uruguayans are unaffiliated with a particular religion.
About 58 percent of Uruguayans are Christian; in the Latin America-Caribbean region as a whole, 90 percent of the population is Christian. The measure was enacted into law a few days later when Queen Margrethe II gave her royal assent to the bill.
In , Denmark became the first country to allow same-sex couples to register as domestic partners. And in , the country enacted a law allowing gay couples in registered partnerships the right to adopt children. With the legalization of gay marriage, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark which is the state church , is required to allow same-sex couples to marry in churches.
In addition, the law leaves it up to other religious groups to determine whether or not to allow same-sex weddings in its churches. Argentina In July , Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. In spite of vigorous opposition from the Catholic Church and evangelical Protestant churches, the measure passed both houses of the Argentine legislature and was signed into law by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
The law grants same-sex couples who marry all the rights and responsibilities enjoyed by heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt children. Portugal In June , Portugal became the eighth country to legalize same-sex marriage.
Its parliament had passed the measure legalizing gay marriage earlier in In April , the Constitutional Court declared the law to be constitutionally valid. It was signed by Silva in May of that year and took effect one month later. Iceland A measure legalizing same-sex marriage passed the Icelandic legislature in June Iceland had allowed same-sex couples to register as domestic partners since A decade later, the parliament passed a measure allowing gay couples to adopt children.
Sweden In April , the Swedish parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to legalize same-sex marriage. Gay couples in Sweden had been allowed to register for civil unions since The law allows gays and lesbians to marry in both religious and civil ceremonies, but it does not require clergy to officiate at such ceremonies.
The Lutheran-affiliated Church of Sweden, to which roughly three-quarters of all Swedes belong, has offered blessings for same-sex partnerships since January Norway Since January , gay couples in Norway legally have been able to marry, adopt children and undergo artificial insemination.
The new law, which was passed in , replaced a law permitting civil unions. It passed despite resistance from members of the Christian Democratic Party and the Progress Party, as well as a public controversy over state funding for fertility treatments for lesbian couples. The largest religious group in the country, the Lutheran-affiliated Church of Norway, initially voted to prohibit its pastors from conducting same-sex weddings.
But the Church of Norway changed course and began sanctioning same-sex weddings in early The new law allows for religious institutions and civil officers to refuse to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, a provision that critics claim violates the rights of same-sex couples under the constitution.
The new measure passed by a margin of greater than five-to-one, with support coming from both the governing African National Congress as well as the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance.
Spain A closely divided Spanish parliament legalized same-sex marriage in , guaranteeing identical rights to all married couples regardless of sexual orientation. The high court ruled that the lower court judges lacked legal standing to bring the suits.
Canada Same-sex couples in Canada gained most of the legal benefits of marriage in when the federal and provincial governments extended common law marriages to gay and lesbian couples. In , the Canadian Parliament passed legislation making same-sex marriage legal nationwide.
In , lawmakers defeated an effort by the ruling Conservative Party of Canada to reconsider the issue, leaving the law unchanged. Belgium Beginning in , the Belgian parliament offered limited rights to same-sex couples through registered partnerships.
Same-sex couples could register with a city clerk and formally assume joint responsibility for a household. Five years later, in January , the Belgian parliament legalized same-sex marriage, giving gay and lesbian couples the same tax and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples. Support for the law came from both the Flemish-speaking North and the French-speaking South, and the law generated surprisingly little controversy across the country.
The long-dominant Christian Democratic Party, traditionally allied with the Catholic Church, was out of power when the parliament passed the measure. The law allowed the marriages of Belgian same-sex couples and recognized as married those from other countries where same-sex marriage was legal. Those provisions were broadened in to allow any same-sex couple to marry as long as one member of the couple had lived in Belgium for at least three months. In , the parliament also granted same-sex partners the right to adopt children.
The Netherlands In December , the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage when the Dutch parliament passed, by a three-to-one margin, a landmark bill allowing the practice. The legislation gave same-sex couples the right to marry, divorce and adopt children. Although Muslim and conservative Christian groups continue to oppose the law, same-sex marriage is widely accepted by the Dutch public.
The decision gave same-sex couples the right to seek a court injunction against state laws banning gay marriage; although it did not technically legalize same-sex unions nationwide, it was a major step in that direction. Since , the southern Mexican state of Quintana Roo also has allowed gay marriages. In , the congress of the northern state of Coahuila approved same-sex marriage, and in , neighboring Chihuahua followed suit.