On January 1, 2009, Norway became the 6th country to offer full, legal marriage to same-sex couples. The law was enacted on June 17, 2008.
Norway began registering legal partnerships for same-sex couples on April 30, 1993.
[See Registered Partnership: The Scandinavian Approach]
Now allowing full legal marriage, same-sex couples will be granted the same rights as opposite-sex couples to marry, adopt and access alternative insemination.
A parliamentary majority had announced agreement on the legislation in May 2008, and the lower house voted 84-41 in favor on June 11, 2008. On June 17, 2008, Norway’s upper house of parliament voted 23-17 in favor of the gender-neutral marriage law. The King of Norway granted royal assent soon thereafter.
The gender-neutral marriage law replaces the 1993 registered partnerships law. The law gives individual congregations and clergy the right — but not the legal obligation — to perform wedding ceremonies for gay couples.
Three separate polls of the Norwegian population indicated the majority support gender-neutral marriage laws:
- EOS Gallup Europe (2003) 61 percent in favor
- Sentio (2005) 63 percent in favor
- Synovate MMI (2007) 66 percent in favor
Family Issues minister Anniken Huitfeldt, when introducing the bill in March 2008, called it “an historic step towards equality.” She told Parliament: “The new law won’t weaken marriage as an institution, rather, it will strengthen it. Marriage won’t be worth less because more can take part in it.”
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.