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Greenland: Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes

(June 11, 2015) As of October 1, 2015, Greenland, a semi-autonomous region of Denmark, will permit same-sex couples to marry. Lawmakers in the parliament, the Inatsisartut, approved the measure by a vote of 27-0 on May 26, following a campaign for the right to marry that began in 2010. (Chris Bolwig, Greenland Passes Same-Sex Marriage Laws, ICE NEWS (May 30, 2015; Adam Polaski, Greenland Approves the Freedom to Marry for Same-Sex Couples, FREEDOM TO MARRY (May 26, 2015).) The new measure will replace previous legislation that had permitted homosexual couples to form domestic partnerships. In addition, under the newly passed law, same-sex couples will be able to adopt. (Joseph Patrick McCormick, Parliament in Greenland Unanimously Approves Same-Sex Marriage, PINK NEWS (May 27, 2015).)

The U.S. Ambassador to Denmark stated that passage of the measure was “fantastic.” (Bolwig, supra.) Denmark has had legal same-sex domestic partnerships since 1989 and same-sex marriage since 2012. (Id.)

According to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, 19 countries now have legalized same-sex marriage throughout their territories, while two others, Mexico and the United States, have regional laws or court decisions enabling the marriages. The Parliament of Slovenia passed a marriage law in March of this year that is not yet final. (Polaski, supra; Wendy Zeldin, Slovenia: Law on Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption Rights Passed, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (May 9, 2015).)

Status of Greenland

Greenland’s semi-autonomous status has developed from a long history of ties to Denmark. In 1775, it became a colony of Denmark, and it remained in that status until 1953, when it became a province of the country. Greenland was granted home rule in 1979, and in 2008 its citizens passed a referendum in favor of local control of law enforcement, the justice system, the coast guard, and oil revenues. While those changes did come into effect in June 2009, Greenland still is not an independent, sovereign state. (Matt Rosenberg, Greenland’s Status, ABOUT.COM (last visited June 4, 2015).)