June 16, 2008 / 9:59 PM / 11 years ago

CHRONOLOGY: Legal progress for same-sex couples

(Reuters) - The California law allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry is likely to lead to challenges in other states where laws define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

The California law takes effect on Monday after the state’s Supreme Court overturned a ban on same-sex marriages on May 15.

Here is a look at legal history of rights for same-sex couples in several countries since 1989.

1989

June - Denmark passes a law allowing homosexuals to enter a registered partnership, giving them the same housing, pension and immigration rights as married heterosexual couples.

1999

December - Vermont’s top court permits same-sex civil unions, a first decision of its kind in the United States.

1993

August - Norway becomes the second country to allow gays and lesbians to have registered partnerships, giving them rights almost equal to those of married couples.

1994

June - Sweden’s parliament approves law allowing same-sex marriage in ceremonies similar to a civil marriage.

2000

December - The Netherlands approves laws allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. Dutch law had recognized registered partnerships since 1998.

July - Carolyn Conrad and Kathleen Peterson in Vermont become the first same-sex couple in the United States to be legally united.

2002

July - Germany allows gay couples to register partnerships with local civil authorities.

2003

June - Belgium allows same-sex marriages.

November - Massachusetts’ top court rules that a ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional in landmark decision that paves way for the United States’ first same-sex marriages.

2004

May - Dozens of gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts exchange vows.

July - Two Argentines become the first gay couple in Latin America to use a new law legalizing same-sex civil unions.

July - French court annuls France’s first gay marriage, which took place in June. France granted all couples the right to form civil unions in 1999.

2005

April - Connecticut lawmakers permit same-sex civil unions in legislation that takes effect in October that year.

June - Spain’s parliament approves a law legalizing gay marriage.

July - Canada allows gay marriage.

September - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes a bill that would have allowed gay couples to marry in California.

December - Grainne Close and her partner Shannon Sickels become the first in the Britain to marry, two weeks after Civil Partnership legislation came into effect.

2006

March - Czech parliament overrides a presidential veto to allow same-sex couples to register their partnerships.

July - U.S. House of Representatives fails to pass a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage weeks after the U.S. Senate did the same.

October - California appeals court upholds the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

October - New Jersey’s Supreme Court recognizes right to same-sex civil unions.

November - South Africa’s acting president signs into law Civil Union Act 2006, giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual ones.

2007

May - New Hampshire’s governor signs bill that allows same-sex civil unions from January 1, 2008.

June - Gay marriage in Massachusetts withstands a four-year effort by social conservatives to ban the unions when the Democratic-controlled legislature votes to block an amendment that would have put the question of gay marriage to a statewide vote.

2008

May 15 - The California Supreme Court rules the state cannot bar same-sex marriages, marking a major victory for gay rights advocates that may have national implications.

June 3 - California’s secretary of state says a proposed state constitutional amendment to limit marriage to unions between men and women, thereby reversing the state’s Supreme Court decision, will appear on the November 4 ballot. A simple majority is sufficient to amend the state constitution.

Writing by David Cutler and Paul Grant, additional reporting by Jason Szep, editing by Peter Henderson and Jackie Frank

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