The first, very Atlantic decade of Same Sex Marriage: A list of countries by Government and governance Systems

The current geography of same sex marriage completely revolves around the Atlantic.  Indeed, countries where same sex marriages are legally performed and recognized, with the notable exception of New Zealand, tend to have direct political and administrative links to the Atlantic.( The Commonwealth links of New Zealand may actually strengthen further the argument for the Atlantic’s centrality to same sex marriage.)

The Atlantic is not the only strong correlation when it comes to same sex marriage, particularly if one looks at its first decade. In the chart,below, it seems to be monarchies around the Atlantic that were first to legalize same sex marriage. The notable exception is the United Kingdom that only very recently legalized same sex marriage for England, Scotland and Wales.

The  openness of  monarchies to same sex marriage (arguably) destabilizes  arguments that claim that same sex marriage has no dialogue with tradition. It actually seems as though it is the more traditional governmental structures that have been most adaptable to the legalization of same sex marriage.

The United States is also missing from the table below partly because ‘the struggle continues’.  During the first decade of same sex marriage,  support for same sex marriage among US states was still relatively lower.

Germany is missing and difficult to classify as Atlantic. Nonetheless, same sex marriage still remains a point of controversy in the country. Same sex marriages remain illegal although recognition of unions is wide. Viewed alongside the United States,  Germany’s sluggishness possibly testifies to the slower speed  at which  large federal systems respond to controversial, minority group public policy demands.

Country, by date of passage Constitutional









Federal Regional-zed






2001, Netherlands + + +
2003 Belgium + +
2003/2005 Canada + +
2005, Spain + + +
2009 Norway + +
2009, Sweden + +
2010 Iceland + +
2010, Portugal + + +
2012, Denmark + + +

Author, table by: George Katito


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