Global warming to gay rights
Los Angeles Times via MENY Marriage News
The worldwide trend of recognizing same-sexmarriage will likely continue.
By Paula L. Ettelbrick December 4, 2006
While state after state in the U.S. closes its doors to the prospect of same-sex marriage, lesbian and gay relationships have been gaining acceptance in the rest of the world.
Last month, South Africa joined the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and Spain in opening civil marriage to same-sex couples, allowing them equal economic benefits, legal rights and social status as families. The law, passed by an astounding 230-41 margin in Parliament, was in response to an equally notable unanimous decision last year by the South African Constitutional Court. It ruled that the post- apartheid constitution ensures the dignity and equality of all people — and that includes lesbian and gay couples wishing to affirm their love and commitment through civil marriage.
Days afterward, when faced with five Israeli lesbian and gay couples who had married in Canada, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the government is required to officially register them as they would any other foreign marriage.
In the U.S., only Massachusetts has enacted full marriage for same-sex couples. Vermont, Connecticut and California have elected to use the less inflammatory terms civil union" or "domestic partnership," and New Jersey is still hashing out its terminology. The majority of the states have laws or constitutional amendments restricting "marriage" to one woman and one man.
Denmark in 1989 became the first nation to legally recognize same-sex relationships, and Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland swiftly followed that lead. Much of Europe, including France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary, now recognizes same-sex partnerships for a range of purposes, including inheritance, property and social-benefits rights. Countries in formerly communist blocs — the Czech Republic and Slovenia — recognize partnerships, and Croatia has extended some economic benefits to same-sex couples...