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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions

Timeline of major developments in the U.S. &
the rest of the world, from 2001 to 2004.

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The current status of SSM and civil unions is described elsewhere

Major developments: Years 2001 to 2004

  • 2001-APR: Netherlands: Resident same-sex couples can marry and adopt with the full privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. They became the first country to legalize SSMs, at least in recent history.  More details.

  • 2001-AUG-2: Germany: Gay and lesbian couples may register their partnerships, obtain the same inheritance rights as married couples, and may share the same last name. Many rights are still withheld. More details.

  • 2002-JUL: Ontario, Canada: Three Superior Court judges ruled unanimously that the laws of Ontario and of Canada which prohibited gay couples from marrying was unconstitutional. The court gave the governments two years to change the wording of their laws related to marriage. More details.

  • 2002-SEP: Switzerland: Same-sex couples became able to register with the government and obtain all of the legal rights as opposite-sex married couples.

  • 2002-SEP: Quebec, Canada: A court declared that the laws denying gays and lesbians access to marriage was unconstitutional.

  • 2003-MAR-4: Massachusetts: The Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in the case Goodridge et al v. Department of Public Health. It sought the expansion of marriage to include same-sex couples. They ruled in favor of the plaintiffs during 2003-NOV. More details.

  • 2003-MAY-1: British Columbia, Canada: A court agreed with earlier decisions by senior courts in Ontario and Quebec. They gave the government until 2004-JUL-12 to rewrite the laws to allow same-sex marriage. More details.

  • 2003-JUN-10 : Ontario, Canada: The Ontario Court of Appeal found that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional. They ordered the Ontario Government to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately.  At 14:52 hrs ET on the same day, a gay couple, Michel Leshner, 55, and Michael Stark, 45, were married by an Ontario Superior Court judge in Toronto ON. This is the first time in the Western Hemisphere that a same-sex couple has been able to obtain a marriage license and be legally married. They are the first same-sex couple in the world to be married in this way as the result of a court ruling, rather than a legislative change.

  • 2003-JUN-17: Canada: The Federal Government decided to not appeal the JUN-10 decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal. They started to draft legislation to be submitted to Parliament which will legalize same-sex marriage across the entire country. This would make Canada the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, the first two being the Netherlands and Belgium. More details about Canada.

  • 2003-JUN-29: Britain: The government has issued a report recommending that a system of civil unions be created. They had the agreement of all three major parties. More details.

  • 2003-JUL-8: Canada: The British Columbia Court of Appeal issued a supplementary ruling authorizing same-sex marriages in the province immediately. A gay couple, Tom Graff and Anthony Porcino, immediately obtained a marriage license and were married that day by a United Church of Canada minister. More details.

  • star2003-NOV-19: Massachusetts: The Supreme Judicial Court -- the state's supreme court -- issued a ruling in the case of Goodridge et al v. Department of Public Health. The court declared same-sex marriages legal, and ordered the state to start issuing licenses starting on 2004-MAR-17. This made Massachusetts the first state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage. The Massachusetts Legislature started a long and ultimately unsuccessful process of amending the state constitution to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. More details.

  • 2004-MAR-19: Quebec, Canada: The Quebec Court of Appeal authorized SSM in the province. Over 80% of Canadian same-sex couples became able to marry without leaving their province of residence.

  • 2004-DEC-31: Canada: By this time, seven of ten provinces and one of three territories had authorized same-sex marriage. About 87% of the population of Canada live in one of these jurisdictions.

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Data from 2005 to 2008 is available elsewhere on this site

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Related essay:

Current status of SSM in the U.S., Canada, Europe, etc. Includes map of the U.S.

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Copyright © 2003 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2014-MAR-05

Author: B.A. Robinson
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