wedding day celebrationDespite recent setbacks to the gay marriage cause in California and Arizona, it’s a pleasure to report that many parts of the rest of the world are far more enlightened than those misguided, bigoted folks in the U.S.
What follows is a quick rundown of the best places in the world to get married if you’re a gay man, lesbian, or trans-gender person.

If you live in the U.S., but don’t live in a state that allows gay marriage, you can always take your partner up to Canada to get hitched.
Marriage has been legal for gay men and Lesbians in Canada since July of 2005, however, while there is no residency requirement for gay marriage inside Canada, please be advised that even if you are legally married in Canada, if gay marriage isn’t recognized in your home state, you and your partner won’t be considered married there.

Now, let’s take a look at the places in Europe where gay people can be married.

The Netherlands has led the way in the area of gay marriage.
If you are a gay couple in Holland and you get married, you will have the same rights as any hetero couple that ties the knot.

It became legal for gays to marry in Belgium in 2003, which made this Dutch neighbor the second nation on Earth to allow gays and lesbians the same rights to marry their loved ones as any straight couple.
By the way, it’s been legal for gay couples to adopt children since 2006.

Here’s something that really surprised me when I began researching this article, gay couples can get married in Spain.
Yes, believe it or not, despite Spain’s long tradition of Catholicism, it’s apparently secular enough and enlightened enough that gay marriage is legal there, and gay couples enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Bravo, Espana!
I think the idea of a gay wedding is Spain sounds very romantic, especially if you plan on spending your honeymoon there with all of the great food, excellent inexpensive wines, the many art and architectural treasures, and beaches to die for!

And even though many places on the African continent such as Egypt, Uganda, and Nigeria are extremely hostile to gay marriage, gays can legally marry in South Africa.
I think it’s highly ironic that a country that for decades was a bastion of racial prejudice should now possess more enlightened social policies than many places in the U.S.
Since November 30th, 2006, the South African constitution is one of the most inclusive in the entire world and calls for equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Let’s hope that more American states follow this example and begin allowing gay marriage.

Even though gay marriage per se is not permitted in some other European countries, many of them do allow civil unions that recognize gay partners as next of kin, inheritance, social security, tax benefits, and even the adoption of children.
Among the European countries that permit civil unions with some or all of the privileges listed above are France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, and all of the Scandinavian countries, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.

Some other countries that permit gay civil unions are Israel, and New Zealand.
However, if you do choose to get a gay civil union in Israel, be aware that large portions of the population are ultra-orthodox Jews or very conservative Jews to whom the very idea of same-sex unions are anathema.
The right to gay civil unions is rather limited in Israel, but at least the Jewish state recognizes that gay couples are entitled to the same monetary and property rights as heterosexual couples.