Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Where is same-sex marriage legal?

» Updated July 19, 2016
» Mexico is red-hot now and has its own post here
Same-sex marriage is legal in:
• Netherlands (2001), Saba (2012), Bonaire (2013)+
• Belgium (2003)
• Canada (2003-2005)
• United States of America (2004-2015)
• Spain (2005)
• South Africa (2006)
• Norway (2009)
• Sweden (2009)
• Argentina (2010)
• Iceland (2010)
• Portugal (2010)
• Mexico (2010-2016; my full article here)
• Denmark (2012), Greenland (2016), Faroe Islands (2016)
• France (2013), French Guiana (2013), French Polynesia (2013), Guadeloupe (2013), Martinique (2013), Mayotte (2013), New Caledonia (2013), Réunion (2013), Saint Barthélemy (2013), Saint Martin (2013), Saint Pierre and Miquelon (2013),Wallis and Futuna (2013)+
• Brazil (2013)
• Uruguay (2013)
• New Zealand (2013)
• England and Wales (2014), Scotland (2014), Pitcairn Islands (2015), Acension Island (2016), Isle of Man (2016)*
• Luxembourg (2015)
• Ireland (2015)
• Colombia (2016)
• Finland (starting in 2017)
On May 22, 2015, Ireland became the first nation in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. Irish people amended their constitution to bring in marriage equality by a landslide margin of 62.07% to 37.93%.

*British territories/dependencies in process
• The parliament of Jersey (population 99,500) in the Channel Islands preliminarily voted 37-4 to legalize same-sex marriage in September 2015.

+Netherlands/France notes
• Legally, same-sex marriage also should be available in the Dutch Caribbean "municipality" of Sint Eustatius but I've been unable to confirm that one has occurred.
• In the remainder of the Dutch Caribbean, same-sex marriage is not allowed in the Dutch "constituent countries" of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, though Dutch marriages from elsewhere are partially recognized.
• In the lengthy French list above, the linked year takes you to proof of a same-sex marriage having occurred in nine of the 11 overseas "departments" and "collectivities." In the remaining two, Saint Barthélemy in the Carribean and Wallis and Futuna in the South Pacific, same-sex marriage is legal, but I've been unable to confirm that one has occurred.
• (The governments of Sint Eustatius, Saint Barthélemy, and Wallis and Futuna have not responded to inquiries.)

Mexico
Mexico's state-by-state marriage-equality stampede is moving at warp speed right now. I track it in this separate article.

American Samoa (and U.S. territories)
In addition to the 50 states, the U.S. has five territories: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. A federal court on Guam legalized same-sex marriage on June 5, 2015. The Marianas, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands were covered by the U.S. Supreme Court's nationwide ruling on June 26, 2015. But American Samoa (population 55,165) seems not to have been. This is likely why.

U.S. Indian tribes
There are 566 of them, and they are not covered by the June 26, 2015, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. At least 18 tribes (those listed below) have legalized same-sex marriage to date. A number of others have laws stating that they follow the marriage law of the state in which they are located, meaning same-sex marriage is legal within the tribe without any additional tribal action.
Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon (2009)
• Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut (2010)
• Suquamish Tribe in Washington (2011)
• Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe in Washington (2012)
• Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan (2013)
• Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington (2013)
• Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan (2013)
• Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California (2013)
• Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma (2013)
• Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota (2013)
• Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Washington (2014)
• Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming (2014)
• Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes in Alaska (2015)
• Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin (2015)
• Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan (2015)
• Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in Oregon (2015)
• Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon (2015)
• Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota (2016)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mexico's wild ride to marriage equality

Alex Alí Méndez Díaz
Mexico is the current hotspot of the marriage-equality movement. The situation changes frequently. Here's where things stand as of July 12, 2016.

As was the case in the U.S., Mexico's legalization of same-sex marriage is proceeding state by state but unlike in the U.S., there is no possibility for a single ruling from the highest court that will overturn same-sex marriage bans nationwide. Even the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) will have to go state by state.

Mexico has 31 states plus the federal entity Mexico City. Marriage equality has arrived in Mexico City and in 10 states -- via three different routes: Legislative legalization, a Supreme Court ruling, and state administrative decisions to stop enforcing their ban. Those states are:
Campeche (legislative)
Chihuahua (administrative)
Coahuila (legislative)
Colima (legislative)
Guerrero (administrative)
Jalisco (SCJN ruling)
Michoacán (legislative)
Morelos (legislative)
Nayarit (legislative)
Quintana Roo (administrative)
+ Mexico City (legislative)
+ Querétaro, capital city of Querétaro state (administrative)

But it's all much more interesting than just this. Same-sex couples actually can get married right now in Mexico's other 21 states as well, as a result of a June 3, 2015, ruling by the SCJN's First Chamber. But it's complicated.

The ruling declared that any law that defines marriage as "between a man and a woman" is unconstitutional (and therefore ultimately doomed). And the SCJN's declaration of unconstitutionality means that when any same-sex couple (or group of couples) goes to a federal judge and asks for an injunction (amparo) against the local civil registry allowing them to marry, the judge is required to grant it.

The process works, and couples use it, but it's slow and expensive. A couple needs at least a month of time and the equivalent of around $1,000 U.S. to pay a lawyer to help them.

As Mexico's marriage-equality movement careens ahead, more states will see the freedom to marry (without couples having to get an amparo), probably several more states in the near future. In each state, it will happen one of four ways:

1. The state congress will legalize same-sex marriage.

2. The state government will decide to stop enforcing its ban on same-sex marriage. (While this gets the job done, it could be reversed by a new administration, so it's not activists' preferred route.)

3. The Supreme Court will kill a state's ban via the route that happened in Jalisco, and which may happen in Chiapas and Puebla, as well.

Here's how that works. When any law is passed in Mexico and takes effect, there is a 30-day window for specific governmental entities to challenge that law with an "action of unconstitutionality" filed with the full Supreme Court. What Jalisco did is change the legal age for marriage and, in the process, in one sentence of the revised law, it mentioned that marriage is man-woman. This qualified that man-woman language as a "new" law that could be challenged during the 30 days after it took effect. The National Human Rights Commission filed an action of unconstitutionality against the language and the SCJN struck down Jalisco's ban on same-sex marriage in a unanimous ruling with immediate effect.

The states of Chiapas and Puebla also recently altered their marriage laws -- again not specifically having to do with marriage being between a man and a woman -- and made the same "mistake" (or perhaps deliberate decision) that Jalisco did. They mentioned in the revised law that marriage is man-woman. Lawsuits were quickly filed with the Supreme Court and are pending.

4. A grand project of the organization Marriage Equality Mexico -- which led to the 2015 SCJN ruling telling judges nationwide that they had to approve all marriage-equality amparos -- is very likely to succeed state by state. It's not easy to understand, so let's keep it simple:

When one of Mexico's 253 second-level federal appeals courts or the First Chamber of the federal Supreme Court rules that an existing law is unconstitutional in five separate amparo rulings in a row, and uses identical language in each ruling, that creates "jurisprudence" against that law -- and jurisprudence can then be used to force a state congress to eliminate the law -- in this case, a ban on same-sex marriage.

It's an unusual process, for sure, but it's ongoing nationwide and several states are well on the way to arriving at the magic number of five identical rulings in a row from higher-level courts. When a state gets there, the Supreme Court then has the power to move directly against a state's congress/legislature, and surely will do so.

The mastermind of this massive undertaking is a young activist lawyer named Alex Alí Méndez Díaz and he works on the project with cooperating local lawyers nationwide.

And that's Mexico's march toward marriage equality in a nutshell.

But one last thing: Why is all this snowballing? Mostly, it's because when the federal Supreme Court's First Chamber issued that 2015 ruling that requires all judges to issue an amparo injunction to any same-sex couple that wants to marry, the court informed the nation that any ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and is ultimately doomed.

So, the writing is on the wall and politicians and human-rights officials know it and are falling in line.

ADDENDUM: On May 17, 2016, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed amending Mexico's Constitution to make marriage equality the law of the land and sent his proposal to Congress. Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote by members present the day of the vote in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic -- followed by ratification by the state congresses of at least 16 of Mexico's 31 states. Mexico City doesn't get to vote on ratification.

It is perhaps not out of the question that this could happen. A May 20, 2016, opinion poll found that 65 percent of Mexicans support "approving same-sex marriage at the national level." On the other hand, a June 12 poll found that only 43 percent support the plan "to legalize marriage between person of the same sex nationwide" and 49 percent oppose it.

Congress has suggested it will take a look at Peña Nieto's idea the second week of September.

LGBT nondiscrimination laws in U.S. states

Updated July 12, 2016
These 18 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. So does the federal district, Washington, D.C.

These three states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations: New Hampshire, New York, Wisconsin.

(The New York State Division of Human Rights promulgated regulations that took effect Jan. 20, 2016, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, transgender status or gender dysphoria in the arenas listed above. Courts have not yet ruled on whether the department was correct in determining that existing protections based on sex automatically prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.)

Utah prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing but not in public accommodations.

Guam and Puerto Rico (U.S. territories) prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment.

Twenty-eight states and three territories have no statewide/territorywide LGBT protections. But in many of those 28 states, there are protections in some large cities and university towns. Local nondiscrimination ordinances, however, sometimes do not have the teeth of state or federal laws.

Friday, June 03, 2016

What the U.S. looked like the day of the Supreme Court nationwide marriage-equality ruling

For the historical record, here is the U.S. section of the "Where is same-sex marriage legal?" post (the post at the top of this website) as it looked early on June 26, 2015 -- the day the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. At that moment, 12 states and four territories did not have same-sex marriage, Kansas and Missouri had it only in some counties, and same-sex marriage had been suspended in Alabama. So SCOTUS brought marriage equality to 15 states and three or four territories (American Samoa still needs sorting out).

In the United States, same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts (2004), California (2008 for four months, then 2013 for good), Connecticut (2008), Vermont (2009), Iowa (2009), New Hampshire (2010), Washington, D.C. (2010), New York (2011), Maine (2012), Maryland (2012), Washington (2012), Delaware (2013), Rhode Island (2013), Minnesota (2013), New Jersey (2013), Hawaii (2013), New Mexico (2013), Oregon (2014), Pennsylvania (2014), Illinois (2014), Colorado (Oct. 6, 2014), Indiana (Oct. 6, 2014), Oklahoma (Oct. 6, 2014), Utah (Oct. 6, 2014), Virginia (Oct. 6, 2014), Wisconsin (Oct. 6, 2014), West Virginia (Oct. 9, 2014), Nevada (Oct. 9, 2014), North Carolina (Oct. 10, 2014), Idaho (Oct. 15, 2014), Arizona (Oct. 17, 2014), Alaska (Oct. 17, 2014), Wyoming (Oct. 21, 2014), Kansas (Nov. 12, 2014), Montana (Nov. 19, 2014), South Carolina (Nov. 20, 2014), Florida (Jan. 6, 2015), Alabama (Feb. 9, 2015) and Guam (June 8, 2015). It also is legal in the independent city of St. Louis, Missouri (Nov. 5, 2014), the separate county of St. Louis (Nov. 5, 2014) and Jackson County, Missouri, which includes Kansas City and Independence (Nov. 7, 2014). That's 37 states, one territory (there are five), the District of Columbia, and three of Missouri's four largest cities.

(At the moment, same-sex marriage is paused in Alabama due to conflicting rulings from federal courts and the Alabama Supreme Court. Litigation is ongoing. In Kansas, same-sex marriage is not yet happening in all counties, and the state continues to refuse to recognize its own marriages. Litigation is ongoing.)

What's the deal in Missouri? Since Oct. 6, 2014, when Attorney General Chris Koster opted not to appeal a marriage-recognition ruling from a state court in Kansas City, Missouri has recognized same-sex marriages from anywhere in the world. Then, on Nov. 5, 2014, a state judge in St. Louis struck down Missouri's marriage ban and weddings began in St. Louis and St. Louis County (the city of St. Louis is independent and not located in any county). Koster appealed the decision but did not seek a stay to stop the St. Louis marriages. Then, on Nov. 7, a federal judge in Kansas City struck down the state's ban and marriages began in Jackson County. Koster appealed that ruling as well. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit refused to lift a stay that prevents the ruling from having statewide effect. Oral arguments in that appeal were to take place May 12 in Omaha but on April 29 the court canceled them in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court's expected nationwide marriage ruling in June.

Bans on same-sex marriage in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas have been struck down by federal or state courts, but the rulings were stayed for appeal. In Louisiana and Puerto Rico (another of the United States' five inhabited territories), federal courts upheld bans. The rulings were appealed. (On March 20, 2015, Puerto Rico's government reversed course and invited the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston to strike down its ban.) Oral arguments in cases from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas took place before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans on Jan. 9. Journalists exiting the courthouse said they expected a 2-1 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Oral arguments in cases from Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota were scheduled to take place May 12 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in Omaha until the court canceled them on April 29 in anticipation of SCOTUS' June nationwide marriage ruling.

(The six states not yet mentioned: Bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee were upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati. These are the four cases that went to the U.S. Supreme Court and that are expected to result in a ruling for nationwide marriage equality this month. North Dakota was sued twice but the U.S. district court paused the cases to wait for SCOTUS. Georgia also was sued, but there has been no movement in the case lately.)

As for the other three inhabited U.S. territories: The Northern Mariana Islands (population 54,000) are required to let same-sex couples marry due to binding precedent in the 9th Circuit. However, no couple has sought to marry. There also have been no same-sex-marriage moves in the U.S. Virgin Islands (population 105,000), which are in the 3rd Circuit (where all states have same-sex marriage but achieved it in ways that did not involve a circuit-appeals-court ruling). American Samoa (population 55,000) has a unique legal situation. Lambda Legal recently tried to explain it here.

Indian tribes: Same-sex marriage also has been explicitly legalized within the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon (2009), The Suquamish Tribe in Washington (2011), the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan (2013), The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington (2013), the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan (2013), the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California (2013), the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma (2013), the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota (2013), the Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Washington (2014), the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes in Alaska (2015), the Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin (2015), and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan (2015).

Historical notes: In Utah, 1,259 same-sex couples married between Dec. 20, 2013, and Jan. 6, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a Salt Lake City federal judge's strikedown of the state's gay-marriage ban. The stay was lifted Oct. 6, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review pro-same-sex-marriage rulings from appeals courts in three federal circuits. In Michigan, 315 same-sex couples married in four counties on Saturday, March 22, 2014, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a stay. In Arkansas, 541 same-sex couples received marriage licenses before the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay a week after the May 9, 2014, strikedown. In Wisconsin, more than 500 same-sex couples married June 6-13, 2014, before a federal judge finalized her paperwork and issued a stay -- which was lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court action on Oct. 6, 2014. In Indiana, some 800 same-sex couples married June 25-27, 2014, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit issued a stay -- which was lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court action on Oct. 6, 2014. In Colorado, more than 300 same-sex couples married in Boulder, Denver and Pueblo counties in June and July 2014 after various legal developments, including the state's marriage ban being struck down in both state and federal court. The counties eventually were forced to stop issuing gay licenses by the state Supreme Court and Attorney General John Suthers, with Boulder being the final county shut down on July 29, 2014. Colorado resumed issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Oct. 6, 2014, following the U.S. Supreme Court rejection of appeals from other states located in the 10th Circuit.

In U.S. states that do not allow or recognize same-sex marriage, married same-sex couples who live there are still recognized as married for many federal purposes, including income tax, immigration, military benefits and other matters that always have been tied to whether a couple entered into a legal marriage anywhere in the world rather than to a state's marriage rules.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Mexico's Coahuila state legalizes same-sex marriage

[Second draft. Sources: 1 2 3 4 5]

For the first time, a Mexican state legislature has voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Sept. 1 vote by the Congress of the state of Coahuila was 19-1.

The new law, which alters more than 40 parts of the state's Civil Code, takes effect in one week.

According to reports, the law says, "Marriage is the free union with full consent of two people, which has as its objective to realize community life where both [people] seek respect, equality and mutual aid, and make in a free, responsible, voluntary and informed way reproductive decisions that fit their life project, including the possibility of procreation or adoption."

("El matrimonio es la unión libre y con el pleno consentimiento de dos personas, que tiene como objeto realizar la comunidad de vida en donde ambas se procuran respeto, igualdad y ayuda mutua, y toman de manera libre, responsable, voluntaria e informada las decisiones reproductivas que se ajustan a su proyecto de vida, incluida la posibilidad de procrear o adoptar.")

The law's "exposition of motives" says it "puts an end to the restrictions and limitations imposed on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, travesti, transgender and intersex community, which constitute a constitutional and international violation."

The 19 'yes' votes came from members of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and local parties. The 'no' vote came from a member of the Democratic Unity Party.

Coahuila borders the U.S. state of Texas. Its capital, Saltillo, is 191 miles (307 km) south of Laredo, Texas.

Full marriage for same-sex couples is legal two other places in Mexico -- the Federal District (Mexico City), where it was passed by legislators, and the state of Quintana Roo, where the secretary of state determined in 2012 that the state's Civil Code did not specify sex or gender requirements for marriage.

Mexico has 31 states.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Illinois governor signs marriage-equality bill into law


Sitting at the desk on which Abraham Lincoln wrote his first inaugural address, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn today signed the marriage-equality bill into law. When the law comes into force, Illinois will be the 16th U.S. state (along with D.C.) where same-sex couples can marry. [Screen cap: Illinois.gov live feed]
Photo by Hal Baim/Windy City Times

Saturday, July 13, 2013

San Diego LGBT Pride today

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Prop 8 dies, plaintiff couples marry

Prop 8 federal case plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier were married yesterday afternoon at San Francisco City Hall by California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo were married last evening (video) at Los Angeles City Hall by Mayor Antontio Villaraigosa.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rex Wockner

Rex Wockner reported news for the gay press from the 1980s until 2011. His work appeared in hundreds of publications.

He has a B.A. in journalism, started his career as a radio reporter, and wrote for the mainstream press as well, including the Chicago Tribune and The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Highlights of Wockner's career include:

Going to Denmark in 1989 to cover the world's first registered partnerships granting gay couples the rights of marriage.

Covering the world's first full gay marriages in the Netherlands in 2001.

Reporting from the first gay-pride events in Moscow and Leningrad in 1991.

Reporting from world conferences of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and the international AIDS conferences.

Making early contact with gay movements in the former East Bloc and developing nations.

And filing stories in the U.S. from the Democratic and Republican conventions, Creating Change, NLGJA conferences, the GLAAD Awards, Equality Begins At Home, the National Gay Men's Health Summit, the LGBT marches on Washington, ACT UP demonstrations, the National Equality March, the Maine same-sex marriage battle, the trial in the federal Prop 8 case, and New Orleans after Katrina.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gays march through San Diego as Prop 8 dies

More than 1,000 people took to the streets of San Diego Tuesday evening in celebration of the demise of Prop 8 and DOMA. The impromptu march closed down about seven blocks of major thoroughfare University Avenue in the heavily gay Hillcrest district. The peaceful crowd eventually crammed itself into the LGBT Community Center for drinks, hors d'oeuvres and more partying.

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