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Same-Sex Marriage FAQ -- Gender-Neutral Marriage Laws

Questions and Answers


Same-Sex Marriage

Bob Sodervick holds a gay pride flag outside of San Francisco City Hall June 17, 2008 in San Francisco, California. Same-sex couples throughout California are rushing to get married as counties begin issuing marriage license after a State Supreme Court ruling to allow same-sex marriage.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This FAQ answers some of the most frequently asked questions about gay marriages. There are now a growing number of U.S. states, Washington DC and many countries in the world that recognize same-sex marriage.

Note: The information in this article was accurate when it was published. It is important that you verify all information with your local marriage license office or county clerk before making any wedding or travel plans. Please notify us of any oversights or errors.

Q. What countries and states in the U.S. currently allow same-sex marriage?


Map of Countries With the Freedom to Marry

Q. Can anyone get married in these countries?

A. In both Canada and Belgium there are no restrictions regarding nationality.

There is a long residency requirement in the Netherlands.

Q. Will these marriages be recognized in the United States?

A. For now, some legal experts are saying yes. They will be legally binding unions. Other experts are saying not necessarily since some states believe they aren't obligated to validate marriages from another locale.
Neal Katyal, of Georgetown University Law School, in an interview with Aaron Brown on CNN NewsNight stated, "No, it does not and the reason is that that general recognition principle of marriages has always had an important exception, the public policy exception, so that if a marriage violated the public policy of the American government or the state, then it wouldn't necessarily be valid...many times states have said we're not bound, we're not obligated to give credit to your marriage if it violates our own notion of public policy."

Q. How does Canada now define marriage?

A. The new national policy approved by the Canadian Cabinet on June 17, 2003, views marriage as a way to publicly recognize a committed relationship between two adults.

Q. Will churches be required to perform same-sex weddings throughout the world?

A. No. The laws apply to civil weddings only.

Q. Aren't same-sex marriages and registered partnerships the same?

A. No. Although registered partnerships give same-sex couples most of the benefits and protections of civil marriage, the couples are not legally married.

Note: The rights available to same-sex couples vary from country to country.

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