Friday, March 5, 2010
We recently posted an item about Professor Sonia Green's article on whether there is a right to same-sex marriage under customary international law. Click here to read about that article. It seems to be a good time to review the state of same-sex marriage, particularly given new developments this week.
There are indeed many developments to report this week relating to same-sex marriages around the world. In the United States, the District of Columbia began to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday, and the first same-sex marriages will be held there next Tuesday. The Attorney General of the neighboring state of Maryland also issued a 53-page opinion stating that Maryland should recognize valid same sex-marriages from other jurisdictions. (New York also recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states even though the state itself does not yet allow same-sex marriage.) Within the United States, same-sex marriages are now legal in five states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and the District of Columbia. There were also lawful same-sex marriages performed in California between June 16, 2008 and November 4, 2008, when Proposition 8 took effect to amend the California State Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. California is in the strange position of recognizing only those same-sex marriages performed between those dates (whether the marriages were performed in California or some other jurisdiction).
Seven countries allow same-sex marriage: Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. Israel does not yet allow same-sex marriage but will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The same may be true in other countries (particularly on a case-by-case basis).
Countries that provide for some form of civil union or domestic partnership include Andorra, Austria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.
A same-sex couple was married this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They are Damián Ariel Bernath and Jorge Esteban Salazar, who were authorized last week to marry by Judge Elena Liberatori. (This is their photo from the Buenos Aires Herald.) They were the second same-sex couple to marry in Argentina and the first to marry in the city of Buenos Aires. Argentina's constitution (like those of most other countries) is silent on the question of same-sex marriage, and legislation to allow same-sex marriage is still pending in Argentina's Congress. The same-sex marriage question is also reportedly pending before the Supreme Court of Argentina. In the meantime, however, local officials have been able to decide for themselves whether to issue marriage licenses, and this marriage is proof of that. Click here for more information in the Buenos Aires Herald about this same-sex marriage in Argentina.
And most significantly perhaps was the new law that entered into effect this week in Mexico City, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Same-sex couples started receiving marriage licenses there this week, and same-sex marriages will be performed there starting March 12. Click here to read more (in Spanish) or click here for a different article here (in English).