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In response, on Wednesday President Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage. It will probably be a long time before anything is decided here. But eleven other countries have already legalized gay marriage. Here are their stories.
1. THE NETHERLANDS In 1996, 15 years after gay activists brought the issue to the forefront in the early 1980s, the Dutch Parliament created a special commission to look into what effect, if any, making gay marriage legal would have on the country. Four years later legislation was passed making same-sex marriages legal starting April 1, 2001. Four couples, six men and two women, were married at midnight on that date by the Mayor of Amsterdam. The women wore classic wedding dresses with long trains, two of the male couples wore suits, and the third wore leather. Ten years later, Senator Hannie van Leeuwen, who had fought hard against legalization, said, “At the time I opposed same-sex marriage, I was led by fear. Having seen so many happy gay and lesbian couples getting married, I realize I was wrong."
2. BELGIUM One year after the Netherlands’ first weddings, a bill was put forward for similar legislation in the Belgian Senate. At the time same-sex couples in the country had some rights thanks to a 1998 law allowing registered cohabitation. On June 1, 2003 the first legal gay marriages were performed. One of those first couples was Alain De Jonge and Olivier Pierret. At their reception, Olivier’s stoic 74 year-old father gave an unplanned speech, saying, “You’ve envisaged and built your life along a different emotional track from that of your parents. That's your right and above all your choice, and I respect and accept it with sincerity and joy.”
3. SPAIN On June 8, 1901, Elisa Sanchez Loriga, dressed as a man and using a male alias, married her girlfriend Marcela Gracia Ibeas. Once the truth was discovered (and published in two newspapers) the women lost their jobs, were excommunicated, and had to flee the country in order to escape arrest. Despite all this their marriage was never annulled, making theirs the first recorded gay marriage in Spain’s history. On June 30, 2005, the lower house of the Spanish Parliament overrode the Senate’s rejection and made same-sex marriage legal. The bill was heavily opposed by the Catholic Church, but despite 80% of Spaniards identifying as Catholics, polls showed 62% of the population was in favor of the legislation.
4. CANADA By the time Parliament legalized gay marriage on July 20, 2005, almost all of Canada’s provinces and territories had already legalized it themselves. But Canada’s legalization process has not been without its problems. After passing the legislation, Canada issued more than 15,000 marriage licenses to foreign same-sex couples who lived in the country or traveled there to get married. What these couples were not told was that the law said their marriage was only valid in Canada if same-sex unions were legal in their home country, although they were issued Canadian marriage licenses regardless of where they were from. In January of this year, an Anglo-American couple who got married there tried to get divorced in Canada,
SWEDEN Scandinavia is one of the most liberal parts of the world. the Christian Democrats. although no legislation for full marriage status was passed until June 17. is finally coming around to the idea some three years later. Perhaps nothing better illustrates the connection between the end of apartheid and the legalization of same-sex marriage than one interaction between a black woman from the townships and a middle-class white man for whom she was preparing a marriage license. NORWAY In 1993. 5. reportedly after seeing the movie Milk and remembering a childhood friend who was gay. But South Africa is different. you can be sentenced to death or life in prison simply for being gay. 2008. and wanting to keep up with their neighbor most likely played a large part in Portugal legalization. but that the decision to marry any couple in a religious ceremony should still be left to the individual church. saying that all couples in Norway should be allowed to get married in non-religious ceremonies. In 2005. same-sex marriage became a topic of discussion in Parliament. after Denmark. The 1997 Constitution made almost any form of discrimination illegal. the woman asked. support for gay marriage was at only around 40%. going into effect on the first day of 2009. His legislation passed and the law went into effect June 5.only to be told by the judge that their marriage had never existed. and 71% of the population of Sweden was in favor of same-sex marriage replacing the registered partnerships that had been legal since 1995. 2010. After that.000 such couples found out they had never really been married in the eyes of the law. PORTUGAL When neighboring Spain passed their legislation in 2008. “Do you think you are a second -class citizen because you are gay? You have full rights in this new South Africa. 7. to recognize “registered partnerships” between same-sex couples. SOUTH AFRICA In some African countries. campaigners in Portugal pushed even harder for same-sex marriage. and the rights afforded to gays in that country since November 30. 8. can be directly traced back to the end of apartheid. In 2009. When he said he “didn’t want to make a fuss” and that there would be no guests and no rings. including that based on sexual orientation. The main party against same-sex marriage. There are very few other obvious reasons why this largely Catholic and traditional nation accepted the idea so quickly. But when Prime Minster Jose Socrates was running for re-election in 2009. Just this week they signaled a major shift to the left in the party’s position on gay marriage. he made legalizing same-sex marriage part of his platform. Norway became only the second country.” 6. Single women still cannot adopt or receive any fertility treatments. Legislation was passed in May 2008. You have the right to make a fuss. Starting in 2004. and five months later the Lutheran Church of Sweden announced its full support of gay marriage. Homosexuality was a crime until 1982. the Supreme Court found that the definition of marriage unfairly excluded same-sex partnerships and gave the Parliament one year to pass the necessary legislation. 2006. more than 5. .
Individual states can now decide if they want to perform their own same-sex marriages. The older generations. ICELAND In Iceland. DISCUSS THESE QUESTIONS: Are there many words in your language to refer to homosexuals? What do you think of gay marriage? What about Brazil how would it be if gay marriage was legalized? How is it being gay in your country? Do you know anyone who is gay? How about any celebrities? Or any historical figure? Are there any gay characters on a current TV series? Could you tell us about them? Do you think gay people have enough role models in our society to identify themselves with? Do you think those references portrait a positive image of the gays? Do they help the gay community to enhance their self-esteem? What's the meaning of "homophobia"? In your view. Considering the Church’s views on gay marriage and homosexuality in general this is rather surprising. their marriage would not be recognized. remember what it is like to be persecuted for things you can’t control. But the people who study this sort of thing have a theory: Portugal. The reason Mexico isn’t usually listed with the other ten is because since December 21. 11. which in countries like the USA generally tend to be against same-sex marriage. Mexico gets an asterisk by it when it comes to gay marriage. 2010. why? Do you believe that the gay community is being discriminated against in any way? If so. is there homophobia in our society? If not. is currently working on its own legislation.9. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir had her registered partnership changed to a marriage on June 27. That might have had something to do with the fact that the most powerful person in the country would be affected by the outcome. 2009. In Mexico. and Argentina were all under dictatorship until well into the second half of the 20th century. gay marriage is legal in Washington D. Mexico City — but only in that city. Spain. not a single member of Parliament voted no on the country’s same-sex marriage legislation. It is also the third predominantly Catholic country on this list. why do you think there is such discrimination? What problems do you think someone goes through when they find out they are gay? Do you think they should try to change? In your opinion. 10. 2010. Quintana Roo. In the US. gay marriages can be performed in the capital. where holiday and beach wedding hot spot Cancun is located. MEXICO OK. it did so on July 22. ARGENTINA This South American country is the most recent to legalize same-sex marriage. the same day the legislation went into effect. any couple can get married in the capital and that marriage is legal throughout the country.C. should they say they are gay? What do you think your parents' reaction would be if you told them you are gay? Do you think one of them would take it better / worse? Do you think their first reaction would persist or would it change? How about your best friend's reaction? . but if a gay couple moves to Texas..
why? Is AIDS a major problem for the homosexuals only? What do you know about this disease? How do you think it is transmitted? Could you define the word "stereotype"? What stereotypes do you know about gays? . the same or better than being gay in our society? Are they simply ignored? Could you name any famous lesbian through history? Do you believe gays and heterosexuals have the same rights? Do they have equal duties? What's your opinion on gay marriage? What do you think of adoption by gay couples? Do you think homosexual families can bring up children as well as straight families? If not. can a gay be a religious person? What main problems do gays have in the military? In what ways does the gay community try to tackle homophobia? Are they being successful? What main achievements have they had in the last 25 years? How important are gay associations or organizations? Do you think being lesbian is viewed as being worse. How would you react if one of your children told you they're gay? What are the main problems gays have to face at college? Is it easier for a gay to live in a village or in a city? Is being gay more difficult in some countries than others? In your opinion.
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