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Where is Gay Marriage Legal?

A Guide to Getting Legally Married as a Gay Couple

By

Updated January 02, 2010
It's a contentious issue: the newspapers frequently are filled with stories of gay marriage battles being fought in the courts, legislative halls and even the ballot boxes. But there are a few places where gays can lay down their picket signs and pick up their wedding bouquets. Here's where same-sex marriage is legal:

Internationally Legal Gay Marriage

Belgium
Canada
Mexico City
The Netherlands
Norway
South Africa
Spain
Sweden

Where is Gay Marriage Legal In the United States

Connecticut
Iowa
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
Vermont
Washington, DC

Same-sex marriage was legalized in California and Maine, but then was made illegal through voters' ballot box initiatives.

In New York State and Israel, same-sex marriage is not legal but they will recognize legal ceremonies performed elsewhere. Additionally, the Kingdom of the Netherlands requires that Aruba and the Antilles recognize other Dutch gay marriages.

What if I Live in a Place Where I Can't Get Legally Married?

Same-sex couples have a history of forming meaningful wedding ceremonies and marriages without the benefits of a legal marriage. In fact, some straight couples also choose to have a wedding without signing any legal documents. A marriage should be a commitment between a couple, their community, and if they are religious, their God. Read about the difference between a wedding, a marriage, and a legal marriage.

But for couples who want some legal recognition of their relationship but don't live in a place where gay marriage is legal, there are a couple of options:
  • Travel to another state for your wedding. Most states will allow non-residents to marry there, even though doing so may not give them any more legal rights in their home state. Consult the town clerk before you make travel arrangements or send out invitations to insure this is possible.

  • Domestic Partnership – also called a civil union or a registered partnership – allows some legal protections in some states and countries. You can choose to do this at the same time that you have a wedding or separately, although both cases will require you to make a trip to the courthouse.

  • Use legal documents to protect your partner and yourself from losing property and to ensure power in medical situations. Most commonly, these documents are:

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