38 Fam. Advoc. 37 (2015-2016)
Marriage Equality in Europe

handle is hein.journals/famadv38 and id is 187 raw text is: 









EQ UA LITI


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As of December 2015, 13 of the 19 countries (at this writing) that have legalized
same-sex   marriage  across  the  globe are  in Europe.  In fact, almost  all states in
Western   Europe  now  recognize  same-sex  unions  in the same  way  as heterosexual
ones, but  notably, two of the largest-Germany and Italy-are not among them. All
Central and  Eastern European  countries continue  to ban gay marriage. Thus, the two
halves of Europe, to some  extent, have been  travelling in opposite directions.


   The Netherlands paved the way
for the legalization of same-sex
marriages. The first such marriage was
performed at Amsterdam city hall on
April 1, 2001. Since then, countries
across Europe, including Belgium
(2003), Spain (2005), Sweden (2009),
Portugal (2010), France (2013),
the United Kingdom (2014), and
Greece (2015), have followed suit.
Civil partnerships, which grant legal
recognition of relationships but fall
short of marriage, are recognized in
all EU states except Bulgaria, Cyprus,
Latvia, Lithuania, Italy, Poland,
Portugal, Romania, and Slovakia.
   A significant divide in the approach


to marriage equality has arisen among
the core members of the European
Union  (EU) and those that joined in
the big bang enlargement on May 1,
2004, symbolizing the unification of
Eastern and Western Europe. Many
jurisdictions in Central and Eastern
Europe have become increasingly
nationalistic and conservative. Poland
and Hungary  (as well as most other
jurisdictions in the former communist
bloc) now have constitutional
protections that define marriage as a
union of one man and one woman.
These anti-equality provisions
essentially mirror the Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA),  which was


enacted in the United States in 1996.
   Northern Ireland is the only
jurisdiction in the United Kingdom
where gay marriage is not legal.
While the majority of members in the
Northern Ireland Assembly have voted
in favour of gay marriage, it has been
blocked because of a lack of cross-
community  support.
   The position in Northern Ireland
stands in stark contrast to that of the
Republic of Ireland, which in May
2015 became the first country to
legalize same-sex marriage through a
popular referendum. Sixty-two percent
of Irish voters supported amending
the Constitution of Ireland to provide


16 37

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