Saturday, August 17, 2019

Marriage Equality Around the World

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Amsterdam City Hall, April 1, 2001 - Photo by Rex Wockner
Article maintained with assistance from Evan Wolfson, Rob Salerno and Andrés Duque. Last update: Aug. 3, 2019.

Same-sex couples can marry in 28 nations and in 45 other jurisdictions around the world:

Netherlands (2001), Saba (2012), Bonaire (2013), Sint Eustatius

Belgium (2003)

Canada (2003-2005)

USA (2004-2015), Guam (2015), Northern Mariana Islands (2015), Puerto Rico (2015), U.S. Virgin Islands (2015)

Spain (2005), Canary Islands (2005), Ceuta (2005), Melilla (2005)

South Africa (2006)

Norway (2009)

Sweden (2009)

Argentina (2010)

Iceland (2010)

Portugal (2010), Azores (2010), Madeira (2010)

Mexico (2010-2019; full article here)

Denmark (2012), Greenland (2016), Faroe Islands (2017)

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), Akrotiri and Dhekelia (2014), British Indian Ocean Territory (2014, 2015), Scotland (2014), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (2014), Pitcairn Islands (2015), Ascension Island (2016), Isle of Man (2016), British Antarctic Territory (2016), Gibraltar (2016), Guernsey (2017), Falkland Islands (2017), Tristan da Cunha (2017), Saint Helena (2017), Jersey (2018), Alderney (2018), Bermuda (2017, 2018, see "Notes" below)

Luxembourg (2015)

Ireland (2015)

Colombia (2016)

Finland (2017)

Malta (2017)

Germany (2017)

Australia (2017), Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Norfolk Island

Austria (2019)

Taiwan (2019)

Ecuador (2019)

Final rulings issued

Costa Rica

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice struck down the nation's ban on marriage equality on Aug. 8, 2018, but delayed its ruling from taking effect until May 26, 2020 (18 months after it was published in the Judicial Bulletin). The ruling was a direct result of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' November 2017 marriage-equality ruling, which instructed Costa Rica and 14 other nations without marriage equality to let same-sex couples marry. Those nations, signatories of the American Convention on Human Rights, are Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname. Five other signatory nations already have marriage equality: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay. Mexico has full marriage equality in 18 of its 31 states and in Mexico City, the federal capital.

Costa Rica's April 2018 presidential election morphed into a referendum on marriage equality after evangelical Christian Fabricio Alvarado catapulted into first place in the first round by making resistance to the Inter-American Court ruling the centerpiece of his campaign. Although polls showed the runoff between the top two vote-getters to be too close to call, marriage-equality supporter Carlos Alvarado won the election 61% to 39%.

Fifteen Americas nations

"THE COURT DECIDES ... by six votes to one that: ... Under Articles 1(1), 2, 11(2), 17 and 24 of the [American] Convention [on Human Rights], States must ensure full access to all the mechanisms that exist in their domestic laws, including the right to marriage, to ensure the protection of the rights of families formed by same-sex couples, without discrimination in relation to those that are formed by heterosexual couples, as established in paragraphs 200 to 228."

In a binding ruling made on Nov. 24, 2017, and published Jan. 9, 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights instructed 20 nations that are signatories to the American Convention on Human Rights to bring in marriage equality: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay. Marriage equality is already in place in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay, and Mexico has marriage equality in 18 of its 31 states and in Mexico City, the federal capital.

"All countries are obligated to apply the Convention as the court applies it, so it is binding on all as precedent," said Hunter T. Carter, a partner at Arent Fox who has tried a case in the Inter-American Court and represents Chilean same-sex couples in the Inter-American system.

Notes

Dutch Caribbean

Overseas municipalities Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have marriage equality. Constituent countries Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten do not, though they partially recognize Dutch marriages from elsewhere.

Mexico

Mexican states (there are 31) are a hotspot of the marriage-equality movement. To date, 18 states and the federal capital Mexico City have achieved marriage equality via three different pathways. My article is here.

French places

All overseas departments and collectivities — see the France entry above — have marriage equality. The links above show a same-sex couple marrying in nine of the 11 jurisdictions.

British places

See above for the lengthy list of British places with marriage equality. Northern Ireland, Sark (part of Guernsey) and the overseas territories Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands do not have marriage equality.

Bermuda

In June 2018, the Bermuda government became the first in the world to end marriage equality, which had been brought in by a court, replacing it with domestic partnerships. The repeal lasted until November 2018, when a court ruling took effect striking down the portion of the domestic-partnership law that re-banned marriage equality. The government has appealed that ruling to the British overseas territory's court of final appeal, the United Kingdom Privy Council. Same-sex couples may continue to marry during the appeal process.

There has been only one other repeal of marriage equality in history: California voters ended marriage equality via a ballot initiative (Proposition 8) in 2008. A court ruling overturning the voters' decision took effect in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the initiative's sponsors. Voters in the U.S. state of Maine blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2009, then reversed themselves and allowed marriage equality in 2012. Voters in Slovenia blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2015. A court ruling in the British overseas territory Cayman Islands allowed marriage equality for 13 days in 2019 before a higher court issued a stay. No same-sex couple married during that time.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Grand Court legalized marriage equality on March 29, 2019, striking down the British overseas territory's ban. On April 10, 2019, the day the first marriage was to take place, the Court of Appeal issued a stay of the Grand Court ruling, blocking marriage equality until the government's appeal of the ruling runs its course.

Ireland

On May 22, 2015, Ireland became the first nation 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%.

U.S. territories

Four of the five U.S. territories — Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands — were covered by the U.S. Supreme Court's nationwide marriage-equality ruling on June 26, 2015. American Samoa was not.

The United States Minor Outlying Islands — Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean, and Navassa Island in the Caribbean Sea — would have marriage equality. Their population nowadays is a small number of temporarily assigned scientists and military personnel.

Antarctica

Marriage equality exists in much of Antarctica, given the nations that claim portions of the continent as national territory: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom.

On the high seas

Same-sex couples can marry at sea on Celebrity Cruises ships, courtesy of the Malta Parliament's passage of marriage equality in July 2017.

U.S. Indian tribes

There are 573 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 22 tribes, listed below, have legalized same-sex marriage to date. A number of others follow the marriage law of the state in which they are located, so 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)
• Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma (2016)
• Osage Nation in Oklahoma (2017)
• Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin (2017)
• Ak-Chin Indian Community in Arizona (2017)
• Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota (2019)

Watch list

This section is now a separate article: Worldwide Marriage Equality Watch List. Click here to read about the places on the planet most likely to see marriage equality next, as well as places where marriage equality has become a high-profile topic.

Geography lesson

Where are those 45 other jurisdictions of Australia, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, UK and USA?

Australia
• Christmas Island » Indian Ocean
• Cocos (Keeling) Islands » Indian Ocean
• Norfolk Island » South Pacific Ocean

Denmark
• Faroe Islands » North Atlantic Ocean
• Greenland » between North Atlantic and Arctic oceans

France
• French Guiana » South America
• French Polynesia » South Pacific Ocean
• Guadeloupe » Caribbean Sea
• Martinique » Caribbean Sea
• Mayotte » Indian Ocean
• New Caledonia » South Pacific Ocean
• Réunion » Indian Ocean
• Saint Barthélemy » Caribbean Sea
• Saint Martin » Caribbean Sea
• Saint Pierre and Miquelon » next to Newfoundland
• Wallis and Futuna » South Pacific Ocean

Netherlands
• Bonaire » Caribbean Sea
• Saba » Caribbean Sea
• Sint Eustatius » Caribbean Sea

Portugal
• Azores » North Atlantic Ocean
• Madeira » North Atlantic Ocean

Spain
• Canary Islands » North Atlantic Ocean
• Ceuta » Africa
• Melilla » Africa

United Kingdom
• Akrotiri and Dhekelia » Cyprus
• Alderney » English Channel
• Ascension Island » South Atlantic Ocean
• Bermuda » North Atlantic Ocean
• British Antarctic Territory
• British Indian Ocean Territory
• Falkland Islands » South Atlantic Ocean
• Gibraltar » attached to Spain
• Guernsey » English Channel
• Isle of Man » Irish Sea
• Jersey » English Channel
• Pitcairn Islands » South Pacific Ocean
• Saint Helena » South Atlantic Ocean
• Scotland » Great Britain
• South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands » South Atlantic Ocean
• Tristan da Cunha » South Atlantic Ocean
• Wales » Great Britain

USA
• Guam » North Pacific Ocean
• Northern Mariana Islands » North Pacific Ocean
• Puerto Rico » Caribbean Sea
• U.S. Virgin Islands » Caribbean Sea

Worldwide Marriage Equality Watch List

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Amsterdam City Hall, April 1, 2001 - Photo by Rex Wockner
This is a companion article to my article Marriage Equality Around the World. Here we track the nations and other jurisdictions most likely to see marriage equality next, as well as places where marriage equality has become a high-profile topic. Last update: Aug. 17, 2019.

Bermuda

In June 2018, the Bermuda government became the first in the world to end marriage equality, which had been brought in by a court, replacing it with domestic partnerships. The repeal lasted until November 2018, when a court ruling took effect striking down the portion of the domestic-partnership law that re-banned marriage equality. The government has appealed that ruling to the British overseas territory's court of final appeal, the United Kingdom Privy Council. Same-sex couples may continue to marry during the appeal process.

There has been only one other repeal of marriage equality in history: California voters ended marriage equality via a ballot initiative (Proposition 8) in 2008. A court ruling overturning the voters' decision took effect in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the initiative's sponsors. Voters in the U.S. state of Maine blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2009, then reversed themselves and allowed marriage equality in 2012. Voters in Slovenia blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2015. A court ruling in the British overseas territory Cayman Islands allowed marriage equality for 13 days in 2019 before a higher court issued a stay. No same-sex couple married during that time.

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Grand Court legalized marriage equality on March 29, 2019, striking down the British overseas territory's ban. On April 10, 2019, the day the first marriage was to take place, the Court of Appeal issued a stay of the Grand Court ruling, blocking marriage equality until the government's appeal of the ruling runs its course.

Chile

Since President Sebastián Piñera took office in March 2018, Chile's government has resisted bringing in marriage equality and in October 2018, Piñera told TV viewers, "I believe that marriage, as we conceive it and by its nature, is between a man and a woman."

Under a settlement agreement Chile's government entered into before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2016, the government is required to push for marriage equality until it is achieved. Chile is also among the nations instructed to bring in marriage equality by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' November 2017 marriage-equality ruling.

There has been a marriage-equality bill awaiting action in Congress since 2017. It has had enough support to pass since the last election but has not been brought up for a vote.

In February 2019, Chile's Supreme Court overturned a ruling of the Santiago Appeals Court that had declared inadmissible a marriage-equality lawsuit filed by journalist Ramón Gómez and graphic designer Gonzalo Velásquez. The Supreme Court told the lower court to hear the case and said the Civil Registry's refusal to give the couple a date for their marriage could have violated Article 20 of the constitution. The lawsuit followed a December 2018 Supreme Court ruling in which the court declared, "Constitutional norms and international convention provide that every person who inhabits the State of Chile is the holder of the right to marry and to found a family." That ruling came in a case filed by an opposite-sex couple who were denied marriage by the Civil Registry because the woman was a foreigner without a Chilean identity card. In April 2019, the Santiago Appeals Court ruled unanimously against Gómez and Velásquez and in May 2019, the case returned to the Supreme Court.

Costa Rica

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice struck down the nation's ban on marriage equality on Aug. 8, 2018, but delayed its ruling from taking effect until May 26, 2020 (18 months after it was published in the Judicial Bulletin). The ruling was a direct result of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' November 2017 marriage-equality ruling, which instructed Costa Rica and 14 other nations without marriage equality to let same-sex couples marry. Those nations, signatories of the American Convention on Human Rights, are Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname. Five other signatory nations already have marriage equality: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay. Mexico has full marriage equality in 18 of its 31 states and in Mexico City, the federal capital.

Costa Rica's April 2018 presidential election morphed into a referendum on marriage equality after evangelical Christian Fabricio Alvarado catapulted into first place in the first round by making resistance to the Inter-American Court ruling the centerpiece of his campaign. Although polls showed the runoff between the top two vote-getters to be too close to call, marriage-equality supporter Carlos Alvarado won the election 61% to 39%.

Cuba

In July 2018, the National Assembly unanimously passed the first draft of a new constitution containing marriage equality. A three-month public consultation followed, ending Nov. 15. On Dec. 18, the National Assembly reported that the consultation found that Cubans oppose putting marriage equality in the constitution, and the language was removed. Instead, the Assembly said, the matter will be dealt with in a new Family Code, which will go to a public consultation and referendum within two years of the new constitution coming into force.

Curaçao

In September 2018, 17 years after the dawn of marriage equality in the Netherlands, activists in Curaçao, a Dutch constituent country in the Caribbean Sea, wrote a marriage-equality bill that was introduced into Parliament several months later by two MPs from the governing parties. The initiative was unveiled at a Curaçao Pride event and dubbed "the first marriage equality bill of the Caribbean to be drawn up by our own people." Dutch Caribbean overseas municipalities Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have marriage equality, while Caribbean constituent countries Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten do not, though they partially recognize Dutch marriages from elsewhere.

Czech Republic

In June 2018, the Czech Republic government threw its support behind a bill to modify the Civil Code to bring in marriage equality. The Czech Republic would be the first former-Eastern-Bloc nation to let same-sex couples marry.

El Salvador

A number of marriage-equality lawsuits have been accepted by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, the two most recent in August 2019.

Guatemala

An anti-marriage-equality bill cleared two of three readings in the unicameral Congress and remains pending. Even though marriage is already defined in law as between a man and a woman, Bill 5272, Law for Protection of Life and Family, explicitly bans marriage for same-sex couples — contravening the November 2017 marriage-equality ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is binding on Guatemala. Should the bill pass, activists say they will sue in the Constitutional Court and, if they lose, go to the Inter-American system.

In August 2018, President Jimmy Morales said [5:54 mark in video]: "I remind the people of Guatemala that their institutions and their officials, according to Article 156 of the Political Constitution of the Republic, are not obligated to follow illegal orders. Guatemala and our government believe in life. Our government and Guatemala believe in the family based in the marriage of man and woman." Incoming president Alejandro Giammattei, who will take office Jan. 14, 2020, also opposes marriage equality.

The bill's page at CongressThe billActivists' analysisMore from Guatemala's VisiblesAmnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch

Honduras

In May 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice accepted a lawsuit seeking to enforce the November 2017 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling that instructed 20 Americas nations to bring in marriage equality and modern gender-identity laws. The lawsuit aims to strike down an article of the Constitution that bans marriage equality and recognition of same-sex couples' foreign marriages and civil unions. It also targets a Family Code article that extends marriage rights to opposite-sex de facto unions but not same-sex unions, and the Law on the National Registry of Persons, which effectively prevents transgender people from changing their name.

In October 2018, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández told reporters at a press conference: "Personally as a Christian I am against marriage of persons of the same sex; obviously, it is the judiciary that, according to Honduran law, has to rule on it. [Regardless of sexual preferences] people should be treated with dignity, no matter what their inclination. People should be treated with dignity and this issue is very important."

In November 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed a second marriage-equality lawsuit, an action of unconstitutionality filed by activist groups, saying the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate "their direct, personal and legitimate interest" in the matter and made technical errors in their filing. The original case, filed by activist Indyra María Mendoza Aguilar, remains pending and in February 2019, local media said the court had accepted a third case filed by activists.

Hong Kong

The Court of First Instance of the High Court of Hong Kong heard a marriage-equality case in May 2019, wherein the government argued that letting same-sex couples marry would dilute the institution and make it "no longer special." In August 2019, single-issue activist group Hong Kong Marriage Equality launched.

India

A constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India unanimously legalized gay sex Sept. 6, 2018, decriminalizing 18% of LGBT people on the planet. Adults having sex in private can no longer be jailed for "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." Given the court ruling's expansive language, LGBT activists quickly added marriage equality to their agenda.

Jamaica

In July 2019, a legal case was launched at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights seeking to bring marriage equality to Jamaica. It argues that Jamaica's constitution is in violation of the American Convention on Human Rights, which the nation signed 41 years ago.

Japan

Thirteen same-sex couples filed marriage-equality lawsuits nationwide on Feb. 14, 2019 (Valentine's Day), and a marriage equality bill was introduced in the legislature, the National Diet, in June 2019.

Mexico

Mexico can only get marriage equality state by state. Eighteen of the 31 states and the federal capital Mexico City have gotten there, leaving 13 states to go. I have a separate article with the details here.

Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom House of Commons and House of Lords voted in July 2019 to bring marriage equality to Northern Ireland if, on Oct. 21, Northern Ireland still doesn't have its own government. The start date would be Jan. 13, 2020. Northern Ireland hasn't had a government since January 2017 when the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin power-sharing agreement collapsed due to disagreement about marriage equality, local language rights and other issues. Northern Ireland is the only major area of the UK without marriage equality. Sark, which is part of Guernsey, and the overseas territories Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands also don't have marriage equality.

Panama

Lawyer Iván Chanis Barahona, head of Panama's marriage-equality group, La Fundación Iguales Panamá, says the November 2017 Inter-American Court of Human Rights marriage-equality ruling is "totally binding" on Panama. "Case closed." A Panama Supreme Court of Justice draft opinion rejecting marriage equality that had been circulating at the court was withdrawn in February 2018 because of the Inter-American Court ruling. In January 2018, Panamanian Vice President Isabel De Saint Malo said the Inter-American court ruling is indeed binding ("vinculante") on Panama..

Paraguay

In the wake of the November 2017 marriage-equality ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, activist group SomosGay announced two new lawsuits at the nation's Supreme Court of Justice. As a first step, the suits seek recognition of two marriages of same-sex couples who married abroad.

Peru

In the wake of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' November 2017 marriage-equality ruling, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Duberlí Rodríguez, said, "Peru is part of the Inter-American system and the organism that defends and protects these rights is called the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and ... if the court has taken a decision, I believe that all the parties are called to respect that decision."

In March 2018, a court ruling that had forced the National Registry to register veteran activist Óscar Ugarteche's Mexican marriage to his husband was overturned on a technicality related to the timing of the filing of his lawsuit. He appealed to the Constitutional Court, which heard the case in June 2018 and has missed the legal deadline for issuing a ruling. It is the court's first case related to marriage equality. In April 2019, the 11th Constitutional Court of the Superior Court of Lima ordered the National Registry to register the marriage of a Peruvian same-sex couple who married in 2016 in Miami. In August 2019, the Sixth Constitutional Court of the Superior Court of Lima ordered the National Registry to register the marriage of a Peruvian same-sex couple who married in 2015 in New York.

A marriage-equality bill was introduced in Congress in 2017 and is awaiting action by the Justice Committee.

Philippines

The Supreme Court finished hearing oral arguments in a marriage-equality case in June 2018. Multiple media reports speculated that the justices will find a way to rid themselves of the case without legalizing marriage equality. President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed support for marriage equality but the government later suggested the nation is not ready for it.

Romania

An attempt to obstruct marriage equality by rewriting the definition of "family" in the constitution failed in October 2018 when an inadequate percentage of voters showed up to vote in a nationwide referendum. Thirty percent of all voters needed to cast a ballot for the referendum result to be valid, but only 20.41 percent did. LGBT leaders and others had called on voters to boycott the referendum. In September 2018, Romania's Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples must have the same "legal and juridical recognition of their rights and obligations" as opposite-sex couples.

Switzerland

Switzerland's Federal Assembly is slow-walking the transition from same-sex civil partnerships to marriage equality and some activists have become impatient with the process. The only nations in Western Europe without marriage equality are Andorra, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican City and the UK's Northern Ireland.

Thailand

On the cusp of achieving a "Life Partnership Bill," Thai activists are planning a three-pronged approach to get to full equality — further amendments to the Partnership Bill, attempting to amend the marriage section of the Civil Code, and getting the Constitutional Court to add same-sex couples to the marriage section of the Civil Code.

Venezuela

Two marriage-equality lawsuits are in their final stage in the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, according to Venezuela Igualitaria. One lawsuit targets a Civil Code article that says, "Marriage cannot be contracted except between one man and one woman." The other lawsuit alleges a "legislative omission" resulting from the National Assembly's failure to take up the Equal Civil Marriage Bill. In September 2018, the president of the National Constituent Assembly's Constitution Committee said a new constitution being drafted likely will include marriage equality.

(Venezuela has dueling national assemblies. The National Assembly is controlled by the opposition while the National Constituent Assembly is "officialist." Both are reported to favor marriage equality.)

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Mexico's Wild Ride to Marriage Equality

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Article maintained with help from Geraldina González de la Vega and Alex Alí Méndez Díaz

Alex Alí Méndez Díaz
Eighteen of Mexico's 31 states and the federal capital Mexico City have marriage equality and same-sex couples can marry in the other 13 states if they go to a federal judge and get a personalized injunction (amparo), a process that is time-consuming and requires paying a lawyer for help. The judge cannot refuse the amparo.

The requirement on judges resulted from a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) that declared all bans on marriage equality unconstitutional. The Supreme Court, however, has no power to end all states' bans simultaneously, and can only force individual states' bans out of existence in specific situations.

The ruling says: "Marriage. The law of any federative entity that, on the one hand, considers that the purpose of it [marriage] is procreation and/or that defines it as that which is celebrated between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional." ("Matrimonio. La ley de cualquier entidad federativa que, por un lado, considere que la finalidad de aquél es la procreación y/o que lo defina como el que se celebra entre un hombre y una mujer, es inconstitucional.")

The SCJN ruling resulted from a project by activist-lawyer Alex Alí Méndez Díaz and his organization México Igualitario that involved getting enough identical cases before the Supreme Court from multiple states to create an opportunity for the court to declare "jurisprudence" against bans on marriage equality.

Below are the states where same-sex couples can marry normally (though a minor additional procedure is still required in Baja California and Oaxaca). Some states passed marriage equality legislatively, some decided administratively to stop enforcing their unconstitutional bans, and five states' bans were struck down by the Supreme Court via a specific procedure described below.

Aguascalientes (SCJN ruling)
Baja California (administrative)
Baja California Sur (legislative)
Campeche (legislative)
Chiapas (SCJN ruling)
Chihuahua (administrative)
Coahuila (legislative)
Colima (legislative)
Hidalgo (legislative)
Jalisco (SCJN ruling)
Mexico City (legislative)
Michoacán (legislative)
Morelos (legislative)
Nayarit (legislative)
Nuevo León (SCJN ruling)
Oaxaca (administrative)
Puebla (SCJN ruling)
Quintana Roo (administrative)
San Luis Potosí (legislative)

As to Aguascalientes, Chiapas, Jalisco, Nuevo León and Puebla, whose bans were terminated by the Supreme Court, here's what happened: When any law is passed in Mexico and takes effect, there is a 30-day window for certain governmental entities to challenge the law with an "action of unconstitutionality" at the Supreme Court. What Chiapas, Jalisco, Nuevo León and Puebla did is make some changes to their marriage laws, unrelated to marriage equality, and the revised paragraphs also included existing man-woman language. The revisions qualified as "new" laws that could be challenged during the 30 days after they took effect. The National Human Rights Commission filed actions of unconstitutionality against the man-woman language and the SCJN struck down the four states' bans in separate rulings in 2016, 2017 and 2019. The states likely were unaware they were setting up their same-sex-marriage bans for strikedown.

In the case of Aguascalientes, the challenged new law dealt with the health-care and pension system for state-government workers, and the National Human Rights Commission successfully argued to the SCJN that health care, pension and marriage laws are so dependent on each other that the man-woman definition of marriage, which was not new, needed to be tossed out as well. The SCJN invalidated all state laws that defined marriage as between a man and woman on April 2, 2019.

Going forward, it is likely that additional state congresses will pass marriage equality and that officials in additional states will stop enforcing their unconstitutional bans by administrative fiat. There also is a chance some states' bans could be terminated by the Supreme Court via a different procedure.

That could happen if officials in a given state repeatedly appeal amparo cases to a federal appeals court and lose five times in a row (they would always lose because of the 2015 ruling), which would create jurisprudence against that state's marriage ban. If the appellate court then forwarded the results to the SCJN, the SCJN could move against that state's congress and make it repeal its ban. (For several states, some of the five necessary appellate rulings already happened during and after the litigation that led to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling.)

A new federal Congress was seated Sept. 1, 2018, and a new, leftist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador aka AMLO, took office Dec. 1. In November 2018 the new Senate (unanimously) and Chamber of Deputies (415-0 with 6 abstentions) passed bills extending federal health care and pension rights to same-sex couples and there are plans to equalize same-sex couples in various other federal matters such as taxes, immigration and marriages in embassies and consulates. While the national Congress can recognize same-sex marriages for federal purposes, it is up to each of the 31 states to pass marriage equality itself.

An effort also is under way to insert a right for same-sex couples to marry into Mexico's constitution, which would put additional pressure on states without marriage equality but still would not force their hands. (Mexico's constitution has been amended more than 700 times and contains other aspirational rights.) 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 more than half of state congresses.

ADOPTION: Same-sex couples have adoption rights nationwide. The Supreme Court reiterated its jurisprudence in 2016, writing: "ADOPTION. The best interest of the minor is based on the suitability of the adopters, within which are irrelevant the type of family into which [the minor] will be integrated, as well as the sexual orientation or civil status of [the adopters]." ("Adopción. El interés superior del menor de edad se basa en la idoneidad de los adoptantes, dentro de la cual son irrelevantes el tipo de familia al que aquél será integrado, así como la orientación sexual o el estado civil de éstos.")

LGBT Antidiscrimination Laws in U.S. States and Territories

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Last update: April 1, 2019

These 20 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 Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. So does the federal district, Washington, D.C.

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

On April 4, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled 8-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 7th Circuit covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, so employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is now banned in Indiana.

On Feb. 26, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled 10-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 2nd Circuit covers Connecticut, New York and Vermont, states that themselves already ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation, so the ruling did not add any states to this list, but it did add to the jurisprudence that is likely to see review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On March 17, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled unanimously that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on gender identity. The 6th Circuit covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Employment discrimination based on gender identity is now banned in those states.

Several other circuit appeals courts have ruled that gender-identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination in cases that were not about the Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex. Due to those precedents, any Civil Rights Act-based gender-identity employment-discrimination cases that occur in those circuits would almost certainly result in victory for a transgender plaintiff with a legitimate case.

In states with no sexual-orientation or gender-identity protections in employment, housing or public accommodations, it is common to find protections at the municipal level in large cities and university towns. Local nondiscrimination ordinances, however, sometimes do not have the teeth of state or federal laws.

Monday, July 01, 2019

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 on Oct. 1, 1989, to cover the world's first registered partnerships granting same-sex couples the rights of marriage

• Going to the Netherlands on April 1, 2001, to cover the dawn of marriage equality

• Reporting from the first LGBT-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 and reporting on LGBT movements in the East Bloc and developing nations

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

"I was basically a wire service for the LGBT press, meaning I would write a story and it would appear in scores of local newspapers. The internet eventually made that concept obsolete, but it was a wonderful adventure for nearly three decades. While no one story stands out, I won't forget witnessing history in Denmark and the Netherlands, covering ACT UP, or seeing California's Prop 8 launch a new era of LGBT activism."
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