Earlier today, Barack Obama declared his support for gay marriage. He told ABC News:

"...for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."

Gawker claims he is the "first US president to openly support gay marriage."

But who was the first head of government to do so in world history?

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    Are you only interested in heads of state? In many countries (notably constitutional monarchies) the head of state is a ceremonial figure with no or little political power. May 10, 2012 at 4:40
  • @SigueSigueBen - I intended top of the government. Uncertain how to word that considering the diversity of governmental structures. May 10, 2012 at 4:52
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    @SamTheBrang "Head of government" May 10, 2012 at 4:57

3 Answers 3


If we are only counting modern history - rather than ancient Greece or the like - the Netherlands was the first country to recognize same-sex marriage in 2001, and their head of state is (and was) Queen Beatrix.

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    I guess the answer should clarify if she personally endorsed this decision since the Dutch monarch has no role in actually making laws. May 10, 2012 at 4:37
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    After all, he asked who was the first one to support it, regardless of actually achieving that.
    – o0'.
    May 10, 2012 at 7:14
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    I don't know if the Dutch prime minister at the time voted for or against. You could also say that the leader who first supported it isn't necessarily the leader who got it passed - there might have been PMs 20years earlier who thought it was a good idea
    – none
    May 10, 2012 at 12:40
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    Due to the possible personal political repercussions, I think there's a big difference between being the head of state when SSM happens to get approved, and coming out in support of it yourself. For example, Vermont got SSM in 1999 by court decree, but I certianly wouldn't claim Vermont's governor at the time as an answer.
    – T.E.D.
    May 10, 2012 at 13:20
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    IIRC Clinton personally supported gay marriage and yet was the President who signed the Defense of Marriage act - banning it.
    – none
    May 10, 2012 at 15:06

Iceland prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir had joined in a civil union with Jónína Leósdóttir in 2002, and had converted the union to the marriage in 2010 as soon as that became legal in Iceland. It is logical to suppose she supported gay marriage at least since 2002 though of course she wasn't the prime minister then.

Spain's Zapatero declared he supports gay marriage as soon as he became Primer Minister in 2004.


Not exactly a SSM but very, very close: in Denmark "civil union" or "registered partnership" was allowed in 1989 - see wikipedia:

A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights, benefits, and responsibilities similar (in some countries, identical) to opposite-sex civil marriage.

In Denmark, there are still some differences between an ordinary marriage and registered partnership, e.g. in regard to adoption and in heritage...

UPDATE: Today - 2012-06-07 - we have actually adopted a new law that will fully allow SSM and not just registered partnerships. [L106 in Danish]

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    Good news! Go Denmark :)
    – hairboat
    Jun 7, 2012 at 20:32
  • I agree completely. Over the next couple of months, a lot of other law and instructions will have to be adapted to the new law as well. The major block for the new law was from the church as they had to figure out a new ritual :-) Jun 8, 2012 at 6:04

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