Did Ambassador's Same-Sex Nuptials Violate Any Laws?

Did Ambassador's Same-Sex Nuptials Violate Any Laws?

The legality of it is still unclear, but the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe is claiming he and his male partner were married this weekend in Austria.

Along with a majority of European countries, Austria does not allow for same-sex marriage, though civil partnerships are allowed. Yet Ambassador Daniel Baer Sunday that he was married, and he thanked President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of State John Kerry “for their commitment to equality.”

Baer is the seventh openly gay U.S. ambassador named by President Obama; some of those appointed have been met with protests.

The Advocate reports that Baer returned home to receive a marriage license, presumably in Massachusetts where he also teaches at Harvard University.

Given that Austria does not allow same-sex marriage, exactly where Baer’s nuptials took place was a topic of interest in the hours after the wedding. The Advocate reports it took place in the garden of Baer’s residence in Vienna where the U.S. Mission to the OSCE is located. However, if he was married in the official residence of the U.S. Mission, that is federal territory, and the U.S. federal government also does not allow for same-sex marriage.

Baer told The Advocate that his wedding in Vienna is emblematic of what’s possible in Austria, despite Austrian law explicitly making a wedding like Baer’s impossible. The fact that neither the federal governments of Austria nor the United States sanction such a display poses questions as to what Baer means when he says he is “married” and whether such a marriage is, indeed, legal.