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.