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Same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions

Timeline of major developments in the U.S. and
the rest of the English speaking world:
from 2009 to 2011.

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See the previous essay for events between 2005 and 2008

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bullet 2009-FEB-26: Rhode Island: A bill to legalize SSM was introduced into the Senate Judiciary Committee. Similar bills have been introduced each year since 1997. All have failed to proceed. The latest poll indicates a high level of support for SSM among the general public, in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- the strong position of the Roman Catholic Church. Rhode Island has the highest percentage of Catholics of any state in the U.S. The parliament is expected to approve a SSM bill in early 2013-MAY. More information.
bullet star 2009-APR-03: Iowa: The state Supreme Court continued Iowa's traditional respect for civil rights when the justices unanimously voted to legalize SSM. There were then three states in the U.S. that had extended marriage to same-sex couples. The existing marriage law was seen to violate the equal protection clause of the Iowa constitution. Same-sex marriages begin in late April. More information. Religious and social conservatives in the state subsequently took out their anger against the judges by voting to terminate the service of three judges.
bullet star2009-APR-03: Iowa: The Iowa Supreme Court determined that the state constitution's law guaranteeing every citizen equal rights made the defense of marriage act unconstitutional. Same-sex marriages bacame available during late 2009-APR. Religious and social conservatives in the state subsequently took out their anger against the judges by terminating the service of some of the judges.
bullet star 2009-APR-08: Vermont: The Vermont Legislature successfully overrode their Governor's veto of a SSM bill. Loving, committed same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses starting on 2009-SEP-01. It was the fourth state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. More information.
bullet 2009-MAY-06: Maine: John Baldacci (D), the governor of Maine, signed into law a bill that had just been approved by the Legislature to legalize SSM in the state. It came into effect in 2009-JUN after the current legislative session ends. Subsequently, a citizen initiative terminate future SSMs. Finally, on election day in 2012-MOV, by a second citizen initiative, same-sex marriages were made available once more. More information.
bullet star 2009-JUN-03: New Hampshire:  A bill legalizing SSM was approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Lynch. It was the fifth state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. More information.
bullet 2009-JUN-26: Ireland: The Civil Partnership Bill was published. For the first time, this gives same-sex couples the opportunity to register their relationships and gain a number of rights "expected to include succession rights, protection of a home that a couple shares, plus support rights in the event of a separation."
bullet star 2009-JUL-07: District of Columbia: On MAY-05, the Washington city council approved unanimously a resolution to recognize legal SSMs performed outside the District of Columbia. There was no veto by Congress, which has to review city council resolutions, and so the resolution became effective on JUL-07. It was the sixth political jurisdiction in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples.
bullet 2009-JUL-15: Venezuela: The Organic Law for Gender Equity and Equality which would create civil unions for same-sex couples passed first reading. Laws protecting gays and lesbians were repealed due to pressure from the Catholic church.
bullet 2009-SEP-01: Maine: Loving, committed same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses. More info.

bullet 2009-NOV-03: Maine: On Election day, voters in Maine very narrowly repealed the same-sex marriage law in that state. This is one of a few cases in which SSMs were approved in a state and shortly afterwards made unavailable. If a same-sex couple wants to get married, they might consider marrying as soon as possible. Sometimes the window when marriage is available can be as short as a few hours.
bullet 2009-DEC-10: Austria: Parliament passed legislation to create civil unions for same-sex couples that would also offer protection to their children. It will come into effect on 2010-JAN-01. Lawmakers passed the measure with a vote of 110 to 64. Same-sex couples will obtain the same financial rights as opposite-sex couples including in taxation, pension and maintenance. However they will not be eligible to adopt children or receive fertility treatments. Upon the insistence of The People's Party -- a conservative group -- same-sex couples would not be granted at local registry offices as opposite-sex couples can. Instead, same-sex couples would have to register their civil unions at the municipal office or the magistrate's office. Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek,  the women's affairs minister of the ruling Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) assured lesbians, gays and bisexuals that the restrictions are temporary until the next round of legislation.
bullet 2009-DEC-18: Washington DC's mayor, Mayor Adrian M, Fenty (D), signed the bill into law. It then faced four hurdles to overcome. Religious conservatives tried to implement a referendum to repeal the law. Congress had up to 30 legislative days to veto the law. A bill was introduced in Congress to force a public referendum on SSM. Finally, an injunction was sought from the U.S. Supreme Court. The law survived all of these attacks. Same-sex couples were able to be married in early 2010-MAR. More details.
bullet 2009-DEC-21: Mexico: Mexico city approved bill to legalize same-sex marriage: Mexico City became the first city in Latin America to pass a bill legalizing SSM. If signed into law, the bill would define marriage as "the free uniting of two people." Currently, loving, committed same-sex couples were only able to obtain civil unions in the city. The marriage law would enable them to apply for bank loans, inherit, be included in each other's insurance plans, etc. Victor Romo of the Democratic Revolution Party said: "For centuries, unjust laws banned marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans. Today, all barriers have disappeared."
bullet 2009-DEC-28: Argentina: Jose Maria Di Bello (L) and his partner Alex Freyre were married at a government registry office in Ushuaia, the southern-most city in the world. It is located in Tierra del Fuego province at the southern tip of Argentina. They became the first same-sex couple in Latin America to marry. Their marriage was first accepted and then denied in Buenos Aires. Then it was first denied and then accepted in Ushuaia. Di Bello, 41, is an executive at the Argentine Red Cross. Freyre, 39, is the executive director of the Buenos Aries AIDS Foundation. Both of them are HIV positive. More info.
bullet Other U.S. states: legislative campaigns were active during 2009 in New York, and New Jersey. Neither succeeded.

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bullet 2010-MAR-03: Washington DC: All attempts by religious and social conservatives to stall SSM having failed, marriage licenses for loving, committed same-sex couples became available in the District of Columbia. More details.

bullet 2010-MAY: Argentina: The lower house in the Argentinian government passed a same-sex marriage bill. More details.


2010-JUN-07: Portugal: A few days after Pope Benedict XVI left Portugal to return to the Vatican, the president of Portugal signed a SSM bill into law. The first same-sex marriage was performed in a registry office in Lisbon on JUN-07. More details.

bullet 2010-JUN-27: Iceland: Following an unanimous vote by the country's parliament, SSM became available in Iceland. On that date, Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, the world's first openly lesbian government head, married prominent writer Honina Leosdottir. They had been in a three-decade-long same-sex relationship. More details.

bullet 2010-JUL-15: Argentina: The government's upper house passed a same-sex marriage bill with a comfortable majority. More details.


bullet 2011-JUN-01: IL: A state law passed earlier in Illinois that allows loving, committed couples to enter into civil unions became effective on this date. More details.


star 2011-JUN-24: NY: A bill was passed by the Legislature and signed into law that allows same-sex couples to marry. It became effective in late 2011-JUL. It was the seventh state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples.

More details.

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Data from 2012 to the present time is contained in the next essay

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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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Reference used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Argentine Senate backs bill legalizing gay marriage," BBC News, 2010-JUL-15, at:

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Copyright © 2009 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2014-MAR-06

Author: B.A. Robinson
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