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Marriage Ceremonies for Same-Sex Couples
© 2004, Demian

Legal marriage is no longer denied to same-sex couples everywhere in the world, however, access is still limited and other countries will not recognize the legal status. Within the U.S., states other than Massachusetts will not recognize same-sex legal marriage, and the federal system will not recognize it, which affects items such as social security, immigration and many hundreds of other rights. [See our article U.S. Federal Laws for the Legally Married]

Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage

    Netherlands (2001)
    Belgium (2003)
    Canada (2005)
    Spain (2005)
    South Africa (2005)
    Norway (2009)
    Sweden (2009)
    Iceland (2010)
    Argentina (2010)
    Portugal (2010)
    Denmark (2012)
    France (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    Brazil (2013)
    Uruguay (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    United Kingdom
      (England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
    Luxembourg (2014)
    Finland (2014)
    Ireland (2015)
    United States (2015)
    Colombia (2016)
    Germany (2017)
    Taiwan (2017)
    Malta (2017)
US States & Territories

    Massachusetts (2004)
    California (2008)
    Connecticut (2008)
    Iowa (2009)
    Vermont (2009)
    New Hampshire (2009)
    District of Columbia (2009)
    New York (2011)
    Maine (2012)
    Washington (2012)
    Maryland (2013)
    Rhode Island (2013)
    Delaware (2013)
    Minnesota (2013)
    Illinois (2013)
    Utah (2013)
    New Jersey (2013)
    Hawaii (2013)
    New Mexico (2013)
    Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Oregon (2014)
    Wisconsin (2014)

    Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Pennsylvania (2014)
    Indiana (2014)
    Nevada (2014)
    Virginia (2014)
    Oklahoma (2014)
    Idaho (2014)
    West Virginia (2014)
    Alaska (2014)
    Arizona (2014)
    Wyoming (2014)
    Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Florida (2014)
    Colorado (2014)
    North Carolina (2014)
    South Carolina (2014)
    Montana (2014)
    Alabama (2015)
    U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
      Ruling: All U.S. States must now
      allow same-sex couples the
      freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes

    Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
    Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
    Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
    Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
    Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
    Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
    Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
    Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
    Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
    Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
    Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
    Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
    Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
    Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)

Ceremonial marriage is possible almost everywhere in the world.

The individual congregations in the U.S. listed on our Web site are more than willing to perform same-sex ceremonies. [See Individual U.S. Congregations Offering Ceremonies for Same-Sex Couples.] To find more such congregations, we suggest contacting the MCC, Quaker, Unitarian, and Reform or Reconstructionist Jewish organizations. They can be located through local gay/lesbian newspapers, and the national guide, the Gayellow Pages.

Many of these religious groups ask couples to go through an assessment period, to determine suitability for marriage, which can take place over several weeks or months.

In spite of the intense societal pressure to prohibit same-sex families, we have seen ample evidence for a high degree of commitment to a relationship by same-sex couples. In Partners National Survey, representing 1,266 couples, fully 67 percent of the women and 76 percent of the men stated they where committed for “life.” And another 25 percent of the women and 20 percent of the men said they where committed “for a long time.”

Our survey also found that 19 percent of the women and 11 percent of the men had held a ceremony; 12 percent of the women and nine percent of the men had held some other kind of ritual. Rings or other symbols where carried by 57 percent of the women and by 36 percent of the men.

Some religious communities dictate what may, or may not be said in rites of passage — either by church law, or by tradition. One Unitarian Universalist reverend, however, told us that each of their services are unique, reflecting a couple’s personal spiritual depth and direction. This approach endeavors to create a service that speaks to the couple, rather than tradition or church law.

Same-sex couples can and often do design their own weddings. When churches are unwilling, or when the couple is uninterested in a church service, couples may ask anyone they want to officiate, such as a friend, a relative, or a lawyer — and hold it anywhere they want, such as a banquet hall, a forest, a mountain top, or Disney World/Land, etc. We know of a lesbian couples who loved to travel and held marriage ceremonies everywhere they went; the Elvis Marriage Drive-In was one of their favorites.

Ceremony or not, same-sex families would be wise to draw legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney, custody assignments, and relationship agreements. These are the barest of family supports, until legal marriage is available. [Please see: Legal Precautions to Protect Your Relationship]

The following ceremonies are used to solemnize the relationships between
life partners. They may be used as guides for same-sex couples’ ceremonies.
Civil Ceremony from Denmark

Free Catholic Church Union

Cathedral of Hope Holy Union

Dignity Holy Union — I

Dignity Holy Union — II

Dignity Holy Union — III

Gnostic Christian Church

Religious Support for Ceremonial Marriage
Religious Support for the Legal Right to Marry

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