Norwegian finance minister and chairwoman of the Socialist Left party Kristin Halvorsen outside the House of Parliament in Oslo on June 11, 2008, where she celebrated the passing of a new law awarding equal rights to same sex partnerships as those enjoyed by heterosexual marriages.
Photos in order: Getty Images; Terje Rakke/Nordic life/Innovation Norway
With the ethernet all abuzz with California marriage fever, few took notice of Norway when, five days before the California court ruling went into effect, the Scandinavian nation joined South Africa, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Canada in becoming the world's sixth country to grant same-sex couples full marriage rights.
Although civil unions have been available since 1993, the new gender-neutral version of marriage which was proposed and passed on June 11th includes much needed amendments -- brining adoption and insemination rights up to par with heterosexual marriages, for example.
On a travel note, this constitutional monarchy and her famous fjords are a fabulous antidote to the humid summer blues. In the land of the Midnight Sun, summer temperatures hover in the high 60s and you can expect around 20 hours of sunlight every day.