same-sex marriage equality timeline
June 23, 2011: New York State, U.S.
New York lawmakers narrowly vote to legalize same-sex marriage, making it the sixth U.S. state where gay couples can wed when the law comes into force.
Aug. 4, 2010: California, U.S.
A U.S. Federal Court judge overturns Proposition 8, California’s controversial same-sex marriage ban. The case is under appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
July 15, 2010: Argentina
Argentina’s Senate voted in favor of a same-sex marriage bill, making it the first country in Latin America to grant same-sex marriages all the rights of heterosexual unions.
July 7, 2010: Hawaii, U.S.
Hawaii’s governor vetoes legislation that would have allowed same-sex civil unions. Gov. Linda Lingle told a news conference the bill would have allowed “same-sex marriage by another name.”
June 27, 2010: Iceland
A law allowing same-sex marriage comes into force in Iceland. That same day, Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir weds her longtime partner, Jonina Leosdottir.
June 5, 2010: Portugal
Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Portugal, almost three weeks after the country’s conservative president signed a gay-marriage bill into law. President Anibal Cavaco Silva said he did not veto the bill because the majority liberal lawmakers would only overturn his decision.
March 4, 2010: Mexico City, Mexico
A law allowing same-sex marriages in the city comes into effect.
Dec. 2, 2009: New York State, U.S.
The New York state senate rejects a same-sex marriage bill that the main assembly had passed six months earlier.
Nov. 4, 2009: Maine, U.S.
Maine voters repeal a state law that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed. State lawmakers had voted in favor of same-sex marriage the previous May. A referendum to legalize same sex marriage in the state is likely to be on the ballot in 2012.
June 3, 2009: New Hampshire, U.S.
New Hampshire becomes the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage after the state house and senate pass legislation. The governor signs the bill into law the same day.
May 18, 2009: Washington State, U.S.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signs into law a bill that extends all the domestic rights and benefits of heterosexual marriages to same-sex couples. The “everything but marriage” law was upheld in a referendum in November 2009. A referendum to legalize same sex marriage in the state may be on the ballot in 2012.
May 9, 2009: Hungary
Hungary’s official government publication announces that gay couples will be able to register domestic partnerships beginning July 1, provided both partners are at least 18 years old.
April 7, 2009: Vermont, U.S.
Vermont becomes the fourth state to recognize gay marriage. At the same time, Washington D.C. also moves to recognize same-sex unions performed in other states.
April 3, 2009: Iowa, U.S.
Iowa becomes the third state to allow same-sex marriages after the state’s Supreme Court unanimously upholds a lower court’s decision to strike down a 1998 state law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
April 1, 2009: Sweden
Sweden’s parliament votes 226-22 to recognize same-sex marriage.
Sweden gave gay couples legal “partnership” rights in the mid-1990s, and allowed them to adopt children from 2002. The new law lets homosexuals wed in either a civil or religious ceremony, though individual churches can opt out.
Jan. 1, 2009: Norway
A law comes into effect allowing gay couples the right to marry, adopt and undergo artificial insemination.
Nov. 4, 2008: Various U.S. states
A 52 per cent majority of California voters support Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that defines marriage in the state constitution as a union between a man and a woman. The vote reversed a May 2007 California Supreme Court decision to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Six months after the vote, the California Supreme Court upheld the Proposition 8 ban. But it also ruled that the roughly 18,000 existing same-sex marriages carried out in the state before it came into effect can stand.
Amendments to ban gay marriage are also approved in Arizona and Florida. Arkansas voters approve a measure banning unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents. Supporters of the Arkansas measure make it clear that gays and lesbians are their main target.
Oct. 10, 2008: Connecticut, U.S.
Connecticut legalizes same-sex marriage. The move came after eight same-sex couples sued the state, which had only allowed them to be joined through civil unions. The state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in their favor.
June 11, 2008: Norway
Norway’s parliament passes a law allowing gay couples to marry and adopt children, by a vote of 84 to 41. The legislation replaces a 1993 “partnership” act that allowed same-sex civil unions.
Feb. 9, 2007: Italy
The Italian cabinet approves legislation to grant legal rights to unmarried couples — both same-sex and heterosexual — but stops short of allowing gay marriage.
Nov. 21, 2006: Israel
Israel’s High Court of Justice rules that two gay men married in Canada, as well as four other same-sex couples wedded abroad, should have their union recognized in Israel.
Nov. 14, 2006: South Africa
South Africa’s parliament passes a bill giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry or to have a civil union, making it the first African country to approve same-sex marriage.
Nov. 7, 2006: The U.S.
Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin are asked whether they support a ban on same-sex marriage. The ballot measure passes in all states except Arizona, where it would be ratified two years later.
Oct. 25, 2006: New Jersey, U.S.
New Jersey’s Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples are entitled to the same civil rights as heterosexual couples. Gay marriage is still not approved in the state.
July 20, 2005: Canada
Same-sex marriage is legalized in Canada, a day after the Senate approved Bill C-38 by a 46-22 vote. Three senators abstained. The legislation was introduced by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin after gay and lesbian couples launched lawsuits in different provinces demanding the right to marry.
By the time the federal bill made its way through the House and Senate, same-sex marriage was already legal in eight provinces and one territory.
June 30, 2005: Spain
The Spanish parliament makes gay marriage and adoption legal. The law also allows people to inherit the property of their same-sex partner.
April 14, 2005: Oregon, U.S.
The Oregon Supreme Court throws out nearly 3,000 marriage licences issued to same-sex couples by Multnomah County. It says laws governing marriage are a state matter and the county didn’t have the authority to issue the licences.
Dec. 9, 2004: New Zealand
New Zealand passes the Civil Union Bill to recognize unions between homosexual couples and unmarried heterosexuals, giving them the same rights as married couples in child custody, taxes and welfare.
Nov. 2, 2004: The U.S.
Voters in 11 states — Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Ohio, North Dakota, Oregon and Utah — pass amendments to state constitutions banning same-sex marriage.
Aug. 3, 2004: Missouri, U.S.
About 72 per cent of Missouri voters support an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage, making Missouri the first state to do so.
July 14, 2004: The U.S.
The U.S. Senate rejects a bid to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage. Before the vote, Republicans said a setback in the Senate would not deter their efforts to get the amendment passed. Six Republicans voted with the Democrats against the measure.
May 17, 2004: Massachusetts, U.S.
After a state Supreme Court ruling that struck down Massachusetts’ gay marriage ban, city clerks across the state hand out marriage license applications to gay couples, making it the first state to legalize same-sex marriages.
Feb. 24, 2004: The U.S.
President George W. Bush calls on Congress to prepare a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, and “define and protect marriage as the union of a man and woman as husband and wife.”
Feb. 12, 2004: California, U.S.
City officials in San Francisco marry a lesbian couple in a closed ceremony at City Hall, defying a state ballot measure defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. More than 3,200 same-sex couples are married in a month, but the state’s Supreme Court later voids the marriages.
July 31, 2003: The Vatican
The Vatican issues a 12-page set of guidelines, approved by Pope John Paul, warning Catholic politicians that it is immoral to support same-sex unions.
June 10, 2003: Canada
Ontario becomes the first province to legalize same-sex marriage when the provincial Court of Appeal upholds a lower court ruling to legally allow same-sex marriages.
The judgment follows the Ontario Divisional Court ruling on July 12, 2002. Hours after that ruling, Michael Leshner and Michael Stark were married in a ceremony in Toronto.
June 1, 2003: Belgium
Belgium becomes the second country in the world to recognize same-sex marriages.
April 1, 2001: The Netherlands
The Netherlands jumps to the forefront when its lower house of parliament enacts the world’s most comprehensive legal recognition of gay rights. The Dutch law allows same-sex couples to marry and gives them the same rights as heterosexuals when it comes to adopting.
July 1, 2000: Vermont, U.S.
Vermont’s civil union law comes into effect making it the first state in the U.S. to provide same-sex couples with rights, benefits and responsibilities similar to those of heterosexual couples, including medical decision-making, tax breaks and inheritance. However, the unions won’t be recognized in other states.
Oct. 1, 1989: Denmark
Denmark becomes the first country to legally recognize same-sex partnerships, essentially sanctioning gay marriages. The Danish Registered Partnership Act states “Two persons of the same sex may have their partnership registered” and “the registration of a partnership shall have the same legal effects as the contracting of marriage.”
Feb. 25, 1982: Wisconsin, U.S.
Wisconsin becomes the first state in the U.S. to pass a gay civil rights law. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota and Rhode Island follow.
June 1969: New York City, U.S.
At about midnight, New York City police raid the Stonewall Inn, a private gay club on St. Christopher St. in Greenwich Village. Raids on gay and lesbian bars are common at the time, but this time people fight back. The violent protests become known as The Stonewall Riots, which are seen as the beginning of the gay civil rights movement in the United States.
July 27, 1967: The U.K.
England and Wales decriminalize private homosexual acts between consenting adult men over the age of 21, except for those in the military and police. Scotland and Northern Ireland follow in 1980 and 1982, respectively.
1961: The U.S.
Illinois repeals its sodomy laws making it the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexuality between consenting adults in private. The law takes effect in 1962. Connecticut follows in 1969 with the law taking effect in 1971. In the 1970s, a rush of other states decriminalize homosexuality.
Aug. 6, 1885: The United Kingdom
The British Parliament votes to make homosexual acts a criminal offence.