Vive la France!
Yes, folks, it's another Tigger day. Last week, while I was talking about how straight people changed marriage so that same-sex couples now belong in it, the new French government announced that it will gender-neutralize the entrance requirements for marriage early next year, which will also grant same-sex couples full adoption rights. That would mean that twelve nations marry same-sex pairs, plus some states and provinces scattered hither and yon. In historical order, that would include The Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2003, in some provinces; 2005, nationally), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), and Denmark (2012). After France, I'm looking at Australia, where the debate is in full swing; the majority of Australians (62 percent) say they favor marriage equality; the relevant Senate committee has recommended that Parliament pass an equal-marriage law; and a highly active national campaign group (Australian Marriage Equality) has been pressing the issue with tremendous savvy. I don't know Australian politics inside and out, but judging how often Australian marriage equality shows up in my news feed, I'd bet on adding Australia to the marriage column within a year or two. In the United Kingdom, the Cameron government—remember, of the Conservative Party—has announced its plan to open marriage to same-sex pairs before the next general election in 2015, a plan backed by 71 percent of the population in a recent poll.
In the U.S., most states allow some adoption rights but few offer partnership recognition; the situation is the opposite in Europe, where most western European nations recognize partnerships, but the number offering parental rights to two people of one sex is smaller. The European countries offering full "stranger" adoption rights to same-sex pairs (i.e., not merely legal parenting rights over one's partner's biological child, either as a second parent or a stepparent) include Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Britain, and, soon, France.
I do like to say that the U.S. is behind on recognizing marriage equality, but that's not exactly fair. Some of the European countries that have done so are about the population of Vermont or Massachusetts. If the Supreme Court refuses to take Perry, the Prop 8 case, California will join the marriage-equality column—and California alone is more populous (37 million people) than either Australia (22 million) or Canada (34 million). The six American states (and Washington, D.C.) that currently perform same-sex marriages (Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Iowa, Washington, and New York) are certainly the equivalent of some of the European countries that do so. For instance, Massachusetts (6.6 million) has more people than Denmark (5.5 million), Vermont (.6 million) has more than Iceland (.3 million), and New York state (19.4 million) has more than The Netherlands (16 million). That will change as the populous European nations like France and the UK sign up, but by then more American states will be in the equality column as well. So while Europe is ahead, we're not far behind—and if Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) does indeed fall this year, and if one or more states' voters decide this November to open marriage to same-sex pairs, we can start to brag.
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