Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Marriage Equality Around the World

Amsterdam City Hall, April 1, 2001 - Photo by Rex Wockner

Article maintained with Evan Wolfson, Rob Salerno and Andrés Duque. Last update: November 21, 2018.

Same-sex couples can marry in 25 nations and in 44 other jurisdictions around the world:

Netherlands (2001), Saba (2012), Bonaire (2013), Sint Eustatius

Belgium (2003)

Canada (2003-2005)

USA (2004-2015), Guam (2015), Northern Mariana Islands (2015), Puerto Rico (2015), U.S. Virgin Islands (2015)

Spain (2005), Canary Islands (2005), Ceuta (2005), Melilla (2005)

South Africa (2006)

Norway (2009)

Sweden (2009)

Argentina (2010)

Iceland (2010)

Portugal (2010), Azores (2010), Madeira (2010)

Mexico (2010-2018; full article here)

Denmark (2012), Greenland (2016), Faroe Islands (2017)

France (2013), French Guiana (2013), French Polynesia (2013), Guadeloupe (2013), Martinique (2013), Mayotte (2013), New Caledonia (2013), Réunion (2013), Saint Barthélemy (2013), Saint Martin (2013), Saint Pierre and Miquelon (2013), Wallis and Futuna (2013)

Brazil (2013)

Uruguay (2013)

New Zealand (2013)

England and Wales (2014), Akrotiri and Dhekelia (2014), British Indian Ocean Territory (2014, 2015), Scotland (2014), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (2014), Pitcairn Islands (2015), Ascension Island (2016), Isle of Man (2016), British Antarctic Territory (2016), Gibraltar (2016), Guernsey (2017), Falkland Islands (2017), Tristan da Cunha (2017), Saint Helena (2017), Jersey (2018), Alderney (2018)

Luxembourg (2015)

Ireland (2015)

Colombia (2016)

Finland (2017)

Malta (2017)

Germany (2017)

Australia (2017), Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Norfolk Island

Final rulings issued

Austria

The Constitutional Court struck down the ban on marriage equality on Dec. 5, 2017, and also extended the nation's same-sex registered-partnership law to opposite-sex couples. The ruling takes effect Jan. 1, 2019. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to the ruling were allowed to marry earlier.

Costa Rica

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice struck down the nation's ban on marriage equality Aug. 8, 2018, but delayed its ruling from taking effect until 18 months after it's officially published. The court told the Legislative Assembly to bring in marriage equality in the meantime but if it doesn't, the ruling will come into force anyway. In response, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado "convoked" a marriage-equality bill in August's legislative session but it did not come up for a vote.

The Costa Rican ruling was a direct result of the Inter-American Court of Human Right's January 2018 marriage-equality ruling, which obligates Costa Rica and 15 other Americas nations without marriage equality to let same-sex couples marry. Those nations, signatories of the American Convention on Human Rights, are Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname. Four other signatory nations already have marriage equality: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay. Mexico has full marriage equality only in 13 of its 31 states and in Mexico City, a federal district.

Evan Wolfson, the architect of marriage equality in the U.S., told Wockner.com: "The Inter-American Court ruling mandating the freedom to marry was clear, binding, and months ago. The people of Costa Rica went to the polls and repudiated the anti-gay, anti-marriage candidate in favor of the current president, who campaigned in support of the freedom to marry. This week Costa Rica's Supreme Court got the what right, but the when wrong. Every day of delay is a day of real injury, indignity, and injustice for real families. It's time for the freedom to marry in Costa Rica — now."

Costa Rica's presidential election, held April 1, 2018, morphed into a referendum on marriage equality after an evangelical Christian, Fabricio Alvarado, catapulted into first place in the first round (besting 12 other candidates) by making resistance to the Inter-American Court ruling the centerpiece of his campaign. Polls showed the runoff between the top two vote-getters to be too close to call, but on election day, marriage-equality supporter Carlos Alvarado won in a landslide — 61% to 39%.

Taiwan

The Constitutional Court declared the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on May 24, 2017, and gave the Legislative Yuan no more than two years to change laws. Legislators have not done so and if they continue to resist, marriage equality will arrive automatically.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 24, Taiwanese voters will vote on competing referenda put forth by supporters and opponents of marriage equality, proposing that the government introduce legislation to bring in marriage equality or to create civil unions for same-sex couples instead.

Referenda cannot overturn Constitutional Court rulings but the government is required to propose laws that accord with referenda outcomes. If a civil-union law were enacted instead of marriage equality, it is likely further legal action would ensue in the Constitutional Court.

Sixteen Americas nations

"THE COURT DECIDES ... by six votes to one that: ... Under Articles 1(1), 2, 11(2), 17 and 24 of the [American] Convention [on Human Rights], States must ensure full access to all the mechanisms that exist in their domestic laws, including the right to marriage, to ensure the protection of the rights of families formed by same-sex couples, without discrimination in relation to those that are formed by heterosexual couples, as established in paragraphs 200 to 228."

In a binding ruling (PDF in English) released Jan. 9, 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights instructed 20 nations that are signatories to the American Convention on Human Rights to bring in marriage equality: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay. Marriage equality is already in place in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay, and Mexico has marriage equality in 13 of its 31 states.

"All countries are obligated to apply the Convention as the court applies it, so it is binding on all as precedent," said Hunter T. Carter, a partner at Arent Fox who has tried a case in the Inter-American Court and represents Chilean same-sex couples in the Inter-American system.

Notes

Dutch Caribbean

Overseas municipalities Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have marriage equality. Constituent countries Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten do not, though they partially recognize Dutch marriages from elsewhere.

Mexico

Mexican states (there are 31) are a hotspot of the marriage-equality movement. To date, 13 states have achived full marriage equality via three different pathways. My article is here.

French places

All 11 overseas departments and collectivities — see the France entry above — have marriage equality. The links above show a same-sex couple marrying in nine of the jurisdictions.

British places

See above for the lengthy list of British places with marriage equality. Northern Ireland, Sark (part of Guernsey) and the overseas territories Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands do not have marriage equality.

Bermuda

A law repealing marriage equality and replacing it with domestic partnerships that offer the benefits of marriage took effect June 1, 2018, making the Bermuda government the first in the world to end marriage equality. On June 6, 2018, the portion of the law that re-banned marriage equality was struck down by the same court that had legalized marriage equality in May 2017. On July 5, 2018, the goverment appealed the new strikedown to the Court of Appeal. That court, composed of foreign judges flown in for the occasion, heard the case Nov. 7-9, 2018. After it rules, there can be one final appeal to the United Kingdom Privy Council, where opponents of marriage equality would face long odds.

There has been only one other repeal of marriage equality in history: California voters ended marriage equality via a ballot initiative (Proposition 8) in 2008. A court ruling overturning the voters' decision took effect in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the initiative's sponsors. Voters in the U.S. state of Maine once blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force, in 2009, and then reversed themselves and allowed marriage equality, in 2012. Voters in Slovenia blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2015.

Ireland

On May 22, 2015, Ireland became the first nation to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. Irish people amended their constitution to bring in marriage equality by a landslide margin of 62.07% to 37.93%.

U.S. territories

Four of the five U.S. territories — Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands — were covered by the U.S. Supreme Court's nationwide marriage-equality ruling on June 26, 2015. American Samoa was not.

The United States Minor Outlying Islands — Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Palmyra Atoll and Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean, and Navassa Island in the Carribean Sea — would have marriage equality. Their only population nowadays is a small number of temporarily assigned scientists and military personnel.

Antarctica

Marriage equality exists in much of Antarctica, given the nations that claim portions of the continent as national territory: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom.

On the high seas

Same-sex couples can marry at sea on Celebrity Cruises ships, courtesy of the Malta Parliament's passage of marriage equality in July 2017.

U.S. Indian tribes

There are 567 of them, and they are not covered by the June 26, 2015, U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. At least 22 tribes, listed below, have legalized same-sex marriage to date. A number of others follow the marriage law of the state in which they are located, so same-sex marriage is legal within the tribe without any additional tribal action.

• Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon (2009)
• Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut (2010)
• Suquamish Tribe in Washington (2011)
• Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe in Washington (2012)
• Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan (2013)
• Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington (2013)
• Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan (2013)
• Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California (2013)
• Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma (2013)
• Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota (2013)
• Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Washington (2014)
• Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming (2014)
• Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes in Alaska (2015)
• Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin (2015)
• Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan (2015)
• Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in Oregon (2015)
• Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon (2015)
• Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota (2016)
• Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma (2016)
• Osage Nation in Oklahoma (2017)
• Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin (2017)
• Ak-Chin Indian Community in Arizona (2017)

Map

The Human Rights Campaign produced this nice map. Enlarging it to about 400% reveals every speck of Earth where same-sex couples can marry.

Watch list

This section is now a separate article: Worldwide Marriage Equality Watch List. Click here to read about the places on the planet most likely to see marriage equality next, as well as places where marriage equality has become a high-profile topic.

Geography lesson

Where are those 44 other jurisdictions of Australia, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, UK and USA?

Australia
• Christmas Island » Indian Ocean
• Cocos (Keeling) Islands » Indian Ocean
• Norfolk Island » South Pacific Ocean

Denmark
• Faroe Islands » North Atlantic Ocean
• Greenland » between North Atlantic and Arctic oceans

France
• French Guiana » South America
• French Polynesia » South Pacific Ocean
• Guadeloupe » Caribbean Sea
• Martinique » Caribbean Sea
• Mayotte » Indian Ocean
• New Caledonia » South Pacific Ocean
• Réunion » Indian Ocean
• Saint Barthélemy » Caribbean Sea
• Saint Martin » Caribbean Sea
• Saint Pierre and Miquelon » next to Newfoundland
• Wallis and Futuna » South Pacific Ocean

Netherlands
• Bonaire » Caribbean Sea
• Saba » Caribbean Sea
• Sint Eustatius » Caribbean Sea

Portugal
• Azores » North Atlantic Ocean
• Madeira » North Atlantic Ocean

Spain
• Canary Islands » North Atlantic Ocean
• Ceuta » Africa
• Melilla » Africa

United Kingdom
• Akrotiri and Dhekelia » Cyprus
• Alderney » English Channel
• Ascension Island » South Atlantic Ocean
• British Antarctic Territory
• British Indian Ocean Territory
• Falkland Islands » South Atlantic Ocean
• Gibraltar » attached to Spain
• Guernsey » English Channel
• Isle of Man » Irish Sea
• Jersey » English Channel
• Pitcairn Islands » South Pacific Ocean
• Saint Helena » South Atlantic Ocean
• Scotland » Great Britain
• South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands » South Atlantic Ocean
• Tristan da Cunha » South Atlantic Ocean
• Wales » Great Britain

USA
• Guam » North Pacific Ocean
• Northern Mariana Islands » North Pacific Ocean
• Puerto Rico » Caribbean Sea
• U.S. Virgin Islands » Caribbean Sea

Worldwide Marriage Equality Watch List

Amsterdam City Hall, April 1, 2001 - Photo by Rex Wockner

This is a companion article to my article Marriage Equality Around the World. Here we track the nations and other jurisdictions most likely to see marriage equality next, as well as places where marriage equality has become a high-profile topic. Last update: November 21, 2018.

Austria

The Constitutional Court struck down the ban on marriage equality on Dec. 5, 2017, and also extended the nation's same-sex registered-partnership law to opposite-sex couples. The ruling takes effect Jan. 1, 2019. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to the ruling were allowed to marry earlier.

Bermuda

A law repealing marriage equality and replacing it with domestic partnerships that offer the benefits of marriage took effect June 1, 2018, making the Bermuda government the first in the world to end marriage equality. On June 6, 2018, the portion of the law that re-banned marriage equality was struck down by the same court that had legalized marriage equality in May 2017. On July 5, 2018, the goverment appealed the new strikedown to the Court of Appeal. That court, composed of foreign judges flown in for the occasion, heard the case Nov. 7-9, 2018. After it rules, there can be one final appeal to the United Kingdom Privy Council, where opponents of marriage equality would face long odds.

There has been only one other repeal of marriage equality in history: California voters ended marriage equality via a ballot initiative (Proposition 8) in 2008. A court ruling overturning the voters' decision took effect in 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the initiative's sponsors. Voters in the U.S. state of Maine once blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force, in 2009, and then reversed themselves and allowed marriage equality, in 2012. Voters in Slovenia blocked a marriage-equality law from coming into force in 2015.

Cayman Islands

A couple sued the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean Sea, in June 2018 after being denied a marriage license because they are women. The Grand Court lawsuit says the Cayman Islands Bill of Rights guarantees the rights to private and family life, freedom of conscience and non-discrimination. A three-day trial will be held in February 2019.

These United Kingdom jurisdictions have marriage equality: England and Wales (2014), Akrotiri and Dhekelia (2014), British Indian Ocean Territory (2014, 2015), Scotland (2014), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (2014), Pitcairn Islands (2015), Ascension Island (2016), Isle of Man (2016), British Antarctic Territory (2016), Gibraltar (2016), Guernsey (2017), Falkland Islands (2017), Tristan da Cunha (2017), Saint Helena (2017), Jersey (2018), Alderney (2018).

These United Kingdom jurisdictions do not have marriage equality: Northern Ireland, Sark (part of Guernsey) and the overseas territories Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands.

Chile

On Oct. 2, 2018, in Boulder, Colorado, USA, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights officials emphatically assured Chile that it must move forward with marriage equality in compliance with an IACHR-brokered settlement agreement signed in 2016 between leading LGBTI group Movilh and the government of former President Michelle Bachelet. IACHR officials also made clear to Chile that it is subject to the January 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights marriage-equality ruling, which instructed 20 signatory nations of the American Convention on Human Rights to let same-sex couples marry. Chile's Supreme Court president also has said that Inter-American Court consultative opinions, such as the marriage ruling, are binding on Chile.

The reprimand took place in a meeting between three IACHR officials, three representatives of Chile's executive branch, and Movilh's attorneys, Ciro Colombara and Hunter Carter. The representatives of conservative Chilean President Sebastián Piñera pushed back against the commissioners, saying the government already had complied with the settlement agreement.

That left Movilh leader Rolando Jiménez incredulous. "Affirming that this government has promoted marriage equality or that it already has complied with the settlement agreement is a fallacy," Jiménez said. "They have not lifted a finger in support of this law and, worse still, their officials have spoken out against marriage equality. The state of Chile, as much as us and the IACHR, assumed the commitment to promote marriage equality in a permanent way, with a view to its approval. This should happen no matter who the government is. Chile has been characterized as complying with its international obligations; it would be disastrous if this tradition were broken."

The government's and Movilh's working group, established by the settlement agreement and tasked with promoting passage of marriage equality, continues to meet in Chile. The Bachelet government's marriage-equality bill remains sitting in Congress, where it is said to have majority support.

Costa Rica

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice struck down the nation's ban on marriage equality Aug. 8, 2018, but delayed its ruling from taking effect until 18 months after it's officially published. The court told the Legislative Assembly to bring in marriage equality in the meantime but if it doesn't, the ruling will come into force anyway. In response, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado "convoked" a marriage-equality bill in August's legislative session but it did not come up for a vote.

The Costa Rican ruling was a direct result of the Inter-American Court of Human Right's January 2018 marriage-equality ruling, which obligates Costa Rica and 15 other Americas nations without marriage equality to let same-sex couples marry. Those nations, signatories of the American Convention on Human Rights, are Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname. Four other signatory nations already have marriage equality: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay. Mexico has full marriage equality only in 13 of its 31 states and in Mexico City, a federal district.

Evan Wolfson, the architect of marriage equality in the U.S., told Wockner.com: "The Inter-American Court ruling mandating the freedom to marry was clear, binding, and months ago. The people of Costa Rica went to the polls and repudiated the anti-gay, anti-marriage candidate in favor of the current president, who campaigned in support of the freedom to marry. This week Costa Rica's Supreme Court got the what right, but the when wrong. Every day of delay is a day of real injury, indignity, and injustice for real families. It's time for the freedom to marry in Costa Rica — now."

Costa Rica's presidential election, held April 1, 2018, morphed into a referendum on marriage equality after an evangelical Christian, Fabricio Alvarado, catapulted into first place in the first round (besting 12 other candidates) by making resistance to the Inter-American Court ruling the centerpiece of his campaign. Polls showed the runoff between the top two vote-getters to be too close to call, but on election day, marriage-equality supporter Carlos Alvarado won in a landslide — 61% to 39%.

Cuba

On July 22, 2018, the National Assembly unanimously passed the first draft of a new constitution containing marriage equality. A three-month public consultation followed, ending Nov. 15. Suggestions submitted during the consultation, including from Cubans living abroad, are being considered for the second draft, which will go to a voter referendum on Feb. 24, 2019, after clearing the National Assembly. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel is a supporter of marriage equality.

Curaçao

In September 2018, 17 years after the dawn of marriage equality in the Netherlands, activists in Curaçao, a Dutch constituent country in the Caribbean Sea, wrote a marriage-equality bill and introduced it in Parliament. The initiative was unveiled at a Curaçao Pride event and dubbed "the first marriage equality bill of the Caribbean to be drawn up by our own people." Dutch Caribbean overseas municipalities Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have marriage equality, while Caribbean constituent countries Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten do not, though they partially recognize Dutch marriages from elsewhere.

Czech Republic

On June 22, 2018, the Czech Republic government threw its support behind a bill to modify the Civil Code to bring in marriage equality. Czechia would be the first former-Eastern-Bloc nation to let same-sex couples marry. The bill will have to proceed from the Chamber of Deputies to the Senate to the president.

Ecuador

In July 2018, the Constitutional Court president, Alfredo Ruiz, met with LGBTI leaders and told them a majority of the court's justices will vote for marriage equality and gay adoption when a case gets there, the LGBTI leaders said.

In June 2018, a family court in Cuenca ruled in two cases that two same-sex couples would be allowed to marry as soon as the court issued its ruling in written form. The judges based their decisions on the January 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights marriage-equality ruling and Ecuador's constitution. An appeals court overturned one of the rulings in September 2018, saying the issue should be dealt with by the National Assembly or the Constitutional Court.

Guatemala

An anti-marriage-equality bill cleared two of three readings in the unicameral Congress and remains pending. Even though marriage is already defined in law as between a man and a woman, Bill 5272, Law for Protection of Life and Family, explicitly bans marriage for same-sex couples — contravening the January 2018 marriage-equality ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is binding on Guatemala. Should the bill pass, activists say they will sue in the Constitutional Court and, if they lose, go to the Inter-American system.

On Aug. 31, 2018, President Jimmy Morales said [5:54 mark in video]: "I remind the people of Guatemala that their institutions and their officials, according to Article 156 of the Political Constitution of the Republic, are not obligated to follow illegal orders. Guatemala and our government believe in life. Our government and Guatemala believe in the family based in the marriage of man and woman."

The bill's page at CongressThe billActivists' analysisMore from Guatemala's VisiblesAmnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch

Honduras

In May 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice accepted a lawsuit seeking to enforce the January 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling that instructed 20 Americas nations to bring in marriage equality and modern gender-identity laws. The lawsuit aims to strike down an article of the Constitution that bans marriage equality and recognition of same-sex couples' foreign marriages and civil unions. It also targets a Family Code article that extends marriage rights to opposite-sex de facto unions but not same-sex unions, and the Law on the National Registry of Persons, which effectively prevents transgender people from changing their name.

On Oct. 12, 2018, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández told reporters at a press conference: "Personally as a Christian I am against marriage of persons of the same sex; obviously, it is the judiciary that, according to Honduran law, has to rule on it. [Regardless of sexual preferences] people should be treated with dignity, no matter what their inclination. People should be treated with dignity and this issue is very important."

On Nov. 10, 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed a second marriage-equality lawsuit, an action of unconstitutionality filed by activist groups, saying the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate "their direct, personal and legitimate interest" in the matter and made technical errors in their filing. The original case, filed by activist Indyra María Mendoza Aguilar, remains pending.

Japan

On Nov. 14, 2018, Japanese same-sex couples announced they will file a barrage of marriage-equality lawsuits in district courts in multiple cities.

India

A constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India unanimously legalized gay sex Sept. 6, 2018, decriminalizing 18% of LGBT people on the planet. Adults having sex in private can no longer be jailed for "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." Given the court ruling's expansive language, LGBT activists immediately began talking about marriage equality.

Mexico

Mexico can only get marriage equality state by state. Thirteen of the 31 states and the federal district Mexico City have gotten there, leaving 18 states to go. I have a separate article with all the details here.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, doesn't have a government because the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin power-sharing agreement collapsed in January 2017 and hasn't been restored due to disagreement about marriage equality, local language rights and other issues. It is possible any resolution to the impasse could see introduction of equal marriage in the last major area of the United Kingdom that doesn't have it. There are also ongoing efforts to bring in marriage equality via a vote of the UK Parliament in London and via court challenges.

Panama

Lawyer Iván Chanis Barahona, head of Panama's marriage-equality group, La Fundación Iguales Panamá, says the January 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights marriage-equality ruling is "totally binding" on Panama. "Case closed." A Panama Supreme Court of Justice draft opinion rejecting marriage equality that had been circulating at the court was withdrawn on Feb. 15, 2018, because of the Inter-American Court ruling. On Jan. 16, 2018, Panamanian Vice President Isabel De Saint Malo said the Inter-American court ruling is indeed binding ("vinculante") on Panama..

Paraguay

In the wake of the January 2018 marriage-equality ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, activist group SomosGay announced two new lawsuits at the nation's Supreme Court of Justice. As a first step, the suits seek recognition of two marriages of same-sex couples who married abroad.

Peru

In the wake of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' January 2018 marriage-equality ruling, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Duberlí Rodríguez, said, "Peru is part of the Inter-American system, and the organism that defends and protects these rights is called the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and ... if the court has taken a decision, I believe that all the parties are called to respect that decision." In March 2018, a court ruling that had forced the national registry to register veteran activist Óscar Ugarteche's Mexican marriage to his husband was overturned on a technicality related to the timing of the filing of his lawsuit. He appealed to the Constitutional Court, which heard the case June 20 and was supposed to rule within 30 days. It is the court's first-ever case related to marriage equality. A marriage-equality bill was introduced in Congress in 2017 and is awaiting action by the Justice Committee.

Philippines

The Supreme Court finished hearing oral arguments in a groundbreaking marriage-equality case on June 26, 2018. Multiple media reports speculated that the justices will find a way to rid themselves of the case without legalizing marriage equality. President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed support for marriage equality but the government more recently suggested the nation is not ready for it.

Romania

An attempt to obstruct marriage equality by rewriting the definition of "family" in the constitution failed Oct. 7, 2018, when an inadequate percentage of voters showed up to vote in a nationwide referendum. Thirty percent of all voters needed to cast a ballot for the referendum result to be valid, but only 20.41 percent did. LGBT leaders and others had called on voters to boycott the referendum. On September 28, 2018, Romania's Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples must have the same "legal and juridical recognition of their rights and obligations" as opposite-sex couples.

Switzerland

Switzerland's Federal Assembly is slow-walking the transition from same-sex civil partnerships to marriage equality and some activists have become impatient with the seemingly endless process. The only nations in Western Europe without marriage equality are Andorra, Austria (coming soon), Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland, Vatican City, and the UK's Northern Ireland.

Taiwan

The Constitutional Court declared the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on May 24, 2017, and gave the Legislative Yuan no more than two years to change laws. Legislators have not done so and if they continue to resist, marriage equality will arrive automatically.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 24, Taiwanese voters will vote on competing referenda put forth by supporters and opponents of marriage equality, proposing that the government introduce legislation to bring in marriage equality or to create civil unions for same-sex couples instead.

Referenda cannot overturn Constitutional Court rulings but the government is required to propose laws that accord with referenda outcomes. If a civil-union law were enacted instead of marriage equality, it is likely further legal action would ensue in the Constitutional Court.

Venezuela

Two marriage-equality lawsuits are in their final stage in the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, according to Venezuela Igualitaria. One lawsuit targets a Civil Code article that says, "Marriage cannot be contracted except between one man and one woman." The other lawsuit alleges a "legislative omission" resulting from the National Assembly's failure to take up the Equal Civil Marriage Bill (Proyecto de Ley de Matrimonio Civil Igualitario). In September 2018, the president of the National Constituent Assembly's Constitution Committee said a new constitution being drafted likely will include marriage equality.

(Venezuela has dueling national assemblies at this point. The National Assembly is controlled by the opposition while the National Constituent Assembly is "officialist." Both are reported to favor marriage equality.)

Mexico's Wild Ride to Marriage Equality

Article maintained with help from Geraldina González de la Vega and Alex Alí Méndez Díaz

Alex Alí Méndez Díaz
Thirteen of Mexico's 31 states and the federal district Mexico City have marriage equality and same-sex couples can marry in the other 18 states if they go to a federal judge and get an injunction (amparo), a process that is time-consuming and requires paying a lawyer for help. The judge cannot refuse the amparo.

The requirement on judges resulted from a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) that declared all bans on marriage equality unconstitutional. The Supreme Court, however, has no power to end all states' bans simultaneously, and can only force individual states' bans out of existence in specific situations.

The ruling says: "Marriage. The law of any federative entity that, on the one hand, considers that the purpose of it [marriage] is procreation and/or that defines it as that which is celebrated between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional." ("Matrimonio. La ley de cualquier entidad federativa que, por un lado, considere que la finalidad de aquél es la procreación y/o que lo defina como el que se celebra entre un hombre y una mujer, es inconstitucional.")

The SCJN ruling resulted from a project by activist-lawyer Alex Alí Méndez Díaz and his organization México Igualitario that involved getting enough identical cases before the Supreme Court from multiple states to create an opportunity for the court to declare "jurisprudence" against bans on marriage equality.

Below are the states where same-sex couples can marry normally (though a minor additional procedure is still required in Baja California and Oaxaca). Some states passed marriage equality legislatively, some decided administratively to stop enforcing their unconstitutional bans, and three states' bans were struck down by the Supreme Court via a specific procedure described below.

Baja California (administrative)
Campeche (legislative)
Chiapas (SCJN ruling)
Chihuahua (administrative)
Coahuila (legislative)
Colima (legislative)
Jalisco (SCJN ruling)
Mexico City (legislative)
Michoacán (legislative)
Morelos (legislative)
Nayarit (legislative)
Oaxaca (administrative)
Puebla (SCJN ruling)
Quintana Roo (administrative)

As to Chiapas, Jalisco and Puebla, whose bans were terminated by the Supreme Court, here's what happened: When any law is passed in Mexico and takes effect, there is a 30-day window for certain governmental entities to challenge the law with an "action of unconstitutionality" at the Supreme Court. What Chiapas, Jalisco and Puebla did is make some changes to their marriage laws, unrelated to marriage equality, and the revised paragraphs also included existing man-woman language. The revisions qualified as "new" laws that could be challenged during the 30 days after they took effect. The National Human Rights Commission filed actions of unconstitutionality against the man-woman language and the SCJN struck down the three states' bans in separate rulings in 2016 and 2017. The states likely were unaware they were setting up their same-sex-marriage bans for strikedown.

Remarkably, given that this process led to marriage equality in three states that weren't ready to pass marriage equality, the state congress in Nuevo León did the same thing in January 2018 and the National Human Rights Commission pounced again. The Supreme Court accepted the case and the Nuevo León ban's days are numbered.

Going forward, it is likely that additional state legislatures will pass marriage equality and that officials in additional states will stop enforcing their unconstitutional bans by administrative fiat. In addition to the coming Nuevo León ruling, there also is a chance some states' bans could be terminated by the Supreme Court via a different procedure.

That could happen if officials in a given state repeatedly appeal amparo cases to a federal appeals court and lose five times in a row (they would always lose because of the 2015 ruling), which would create jurisprudence against that state's marriage ban. If the appellate court then forwarded the results to the SCJN, the SCJN could move against that state's legislature and make it repeal its ban. (For several states, some of the five necessary appellate rulings already happened during and after the litigation that led to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling.)

A new federal Congress was seated Sept. 1, 2018, and a new, leftist president takes office Dec. 1. On Nov. 6, the new Senate unanimously passed a bill extending federal health care and social security rights to same-sex couples and there reportedly are plans to equalize same-sex couples in other federal matters such as taxes, immigration and marriages in embassies and consulates. While the national Congress can recognize same-sex marriages for federal purposes, it is up to each of the 31 states to pass marriage equality itself.

An effort is also under way to insert a right for same-sex couples to marry into Mexico's constitution, which would put additional pressure on states without marriage equality. Mexico's constitution has been amended more than 700 times and contains other rights not yet fully realized. Amending the constitution requires a two-thirds vote by members present the day of the vote in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic, followed by ratification by the state congresses of at least 16 of Mexico's 31 states. Mexico City, a federal district, doesn't get to vote on ratification.

ADOPTION: Same-sex couples have adoption rights nationwide. The Supreme Court reiterated its jurisprudence in 2016, writing: "ADOPTION. The best interest of the minor is based on the suitability of the adopters, within which are irrelevant the type of family into which [the minor] will be integrated, as well as the sexual orientation or civil status of [the adopters]." ("Adopción. El interés superior del menor de edad se basa en la idoneidad de los adoptantes, dentro de la cual son irrelevantes el tipo de familia al que aquél será integrado, así como la orientación sexual o el estado civil de éstos.")

Thursday, November 1, 2018

LGBT Antidiscrimination Laws in U.S. States

National Equality March, Washington, D.C., October 11, 2009. Photo by Rex Wockner

Last update: October 2018 | Research assistance: Movement Advancement Project, Jon Davidson

These 19 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. So does the federal district, Washington, D.C.

These two states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations: New York, Wisconsin. (The New York State Division of Human Rights promulgated regulations that took effect Jan. 20, 2016, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, transgender status or gender dysphoria in employment, housing and public accommodations. Courts have not ruled on whether the department was correct in determining that existing protections based on sex automatically prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.)

Utah prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing but not in public accommodations.

Guam and Puerto Rico (U.S. territories) prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment.

On April 4, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled 8-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 7th Circuit covers Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, so employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is now banned in Indiana.

On Feb. 26, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled 10-3 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 2nd Circuit covers Connecticut, New York and Vermont, states that themselves already ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation, so the ruling did not add any states to this list, but it did add to the jurisprudence that is likely to see review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On March 17, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled unanimously that the 1964 Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex is also a ban on employment discrimination based on gender identity. The 6th Circuit covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Employment discrimination based on gender identity is now banned in those states.

Several other circuit appeals courts have ruled that gender-identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination in cases that were not about the Civil Rights Act's ban on employment discrimination based on sex. Due to those precedents, any Civil Rights Act-based gender-identity employment-discrimination cases that occur in those circuits would almost certainly result in victory for a transgender plaintiff with a legitimate case.

In states with no sexual-orientation or gender-identity protections in employment, housing or public accommodations, it is common to find protections at the municipal level in large cities and university towns. Local nondiscrimination ordinances, however, sometimes do not have the teeth of state or federal laws.