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Sweden Offers Legal Marriage
by Demian
© November 3, 2009, Demian

On May 1, 2009, Sweden became the 7th country to offer full, legal marriage to same-sex couples. The law was enacted on April 1, 2009.


Same-sex couples have been allowed to register their relationships since 1995. This afforded them a legal status similar, but not equal to, legal marriage. However, church ceremonies were not possible.
      [See our article: Registered Partnership: The Scandinavian Approach]

In January 2007 the Lutheran Church of Sweden, which was disestablished in 2000, began offering religious blessings to gay unions and actively welcomed lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender clergy.

A poll for the Sifo Institute, published in January 2008, found that 71 percent of Swedes thought that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The poll also found that 51 percent of Swedes approved of adoption by same-sex couples.

On April 1, 2009, parliament approved the landmark bill, known as the “gender-neutral marriage law,” a 261-22 vote, with 16 abstentions. Of the seven parties represented in the parliament, the only one to oppose the ruling was the Christian Democrats, who want to maintain “a several hundred-year-old concept” of marriage.

Because legal marriage was now available, Sweden no longer offers domestic partner registrations. Couples with a “registered partnership” may either retain this status or apply to have it amended into a legal marriage.

Sweden became one of the world’s first nations to allow same-sex couples to marry in a major church. The Lutheran Church is Sweden’s biggest church and former state religion, and claims 74 percent of Swedes as members — 7 million members out of 9 million population — though only 2 percent regularly attend church. It has offered gay and lesbian couples their religious blessings since 2007.

On October 22, 2009, the Church of Sweden’s general synod voted 176-62 to marry same-sex couples, while individual pastors may opt out.

Warnings: Marriage Law Pitfalls for U.S. Citizens

Should a Norwegian same-sex married couple come to the U.S., the U.S. would refuse to recognize the marriage because the DoMA law.
      [See our article: Defense of Marriage Act]

Also, the majority of U.S. states have made laws denying recognition to any legal marriage licenses held by same-sex couples.

Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage

Netherlands (2001)
Belgium (2003)
Canada (2005)
Spain (2005)
South Africa (2005)
Norway (2009)
Sweden (2009)
Iceland (2010)
Argentina (2010)
Portugal (2010)
Denmark (2012)
France (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
Brazil (2013)
Uruguay (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
United Kingdom
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
Luxembourg (2014)
Finland (2014)
Ireland (2015)
United States (2015)
Colombia (2016)
Germany (2017)
Taiwan (2017)
Malta (2017)
Australia (2017)
US States & Territories
U.S. Supreme Court, June 26, 2015 Ruling: All U.S. States must allow same-sex couples legal marriage.

Massachusetts (2004)
California (2008)
Connecticut (2008)
Iowa (2009)
Vermont (2009)
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Maine (2012)
Washington (2012)
Maryland (2013)
Rhode Island (2013)
Delaware (2013)
Minnesota (2013)
Illinois (2013)
Utah (2013)
New Jersey (2013)

Hawaii (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Oregon (2014)
Wisconsin (2014) Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Pennsylvania (2014)
Indiana (2014)
Nevada (2014)
Virginia (2014)
Oklahoma (2014)
Idaho (2014)
West Virginia (2014)
Alaska (2014)
Arizona (2014)
Wyoming (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Florida (2014)
Colorado (2014)
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
Montana (2014)
Alabama (2015)
Native American Tribes

Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)

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