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same-sex marriage: Wikis



Legal recognition of
same-sex couples
Same-sex marriage


South Africa

Granted in some regions

United States (CT, IA, ME*, MA, NH*, VT*)

Formerly granted

United States (CA)

Recognized, not granted

Aruba (Dutch only)
Netherlands Antilles (Dutch only)
United States (DC, NY)

Civil unions and
registered partnerships

Czech Republic

New Zealand
United Kingdom

Granted in some regions

Argentina (C, RC, RN, VCP)
Australia (ACT, TAS, VIC)
Mexico (COA, DF)
United States (CA, CO, DC, HI, NJ, NV*, OR, WA, WI*)
Venezuela (ME)

Recognized, not granted

Isle of Man (UK only)
Mexico (Mex. only: all states, not federally)

Unregistered co-habitation



Granted in some regions

United States (MD)

Status in other jurisdictions

China (PRC)
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
European Union
Faroe Islands

South Korea

United States (AL, AS, AZ, DE, FL, GU, IL, LA, MI, MN, MT, NM, NC, OH, PA, PR, RI, SC, UT, WV, WY)


*Laws passed, but not yet taken effect.

See also

Same-sex marriage
Worldwide status of same-sex unions
Timeline of same-sex marriage
Civil union
Domestic partnership
Registered partnership
Listings by country

LGBT portal

Same-sex marriage is a term used to describe a legally or socially recognized marriage between two persons of the same biological gender. Other terms used to describe this type of recognition include gay marriage, gender-neutral marriage, or marriage equality.

Same-sex marriage is a civil rights, political, social, and/or religious issue in many western nations. Usually, it is closely related to the larger debate over societal acceptance of homosexual relationships. Proponents of same-sex marriages often base their position on universal human rights, individual liberty, equality under the law, the right of personal autonomy to make personal intimate decisions without unwarranted government intrusion, and on the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, concluding that being able to enter into civil marriage should be a civil right irrespective of the genders of the participants. Those who oppose same-sex marriages often base their opposition on the perceived societal impact of same-sex marriages, concerns about indirect consequences of same-sex marriages, parenting concerns, religious grounds, tradition, and/or homophobia.



Various types of same-sex unions have existed, ranging from informal, unsanctioned relationships to highly ritualized unions.

In the southern Chinese province of Fujian, through the Ming dynasty period, females would bind themselves in contracts to younger females in elaborate ceremonies.[citation needed] Males also entered similar arrangements. In Japan, Shudo (衆道 shudō?), the Japanese tradition of age-structured homosexuality or pederasty was prevalent in samurai society from the medieval period until the end of the 19th century. Shudo is analogous to the ancient Greek tradition of pederasty (paiderastia). A law in the Theodosian Code (C. Th. 9.7.3) issued in 342 CE prohibited same-sex marriage in ancient Rome, but the exact intent of the law and its relation to social practice is unclear, as only a few examples of same-sex marriage in that culture exist.[1] Suetonius mentioned (in the context of Nero's vices) that Nero married a slave boy, and also a male friend; Martial also mentions same sex marriages taking place.[2][3]

In 1970, Jack Baker and James Michael McConnell applied for a marriage license in Hennepin County, Minnesota. They were denied and sued. The state won and the case, Baker v. Nelson, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1972 refused to hear it. In December 1984, Berkeley, California extended benefits created for married employees to unmarried couples regardless of gender. West Hollywood, California recognized domestic partnership in 1985. In August 1989, The New Republic published an article by Andrew Sullivan advocating same-sex marriage.[4] In October 1989, Denmark became the first nation to recognize same sex unions in the form of "registered partnerships."

Current status

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe      Same-sex marriage      Other type of partnership      Unregistered cohabitation      Issue under political consideration      Unrecognized      Constitution limits marriage to man/woman
v  d  e

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first modern nation to grant same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriages are also granted and mutually recognized by Belgium (2003),[5] Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), and Sweden (2009). In Nepal, their recognition has been judicially mandated but not yet legislated.[6]

The Canadian Parliament approved the granting and recognition of same-sex marriages by defining marriage as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others” in July 2005. A Conservative Government motion inviting MPs to request repeal of same-sex marriage in Canada failed in December 2006, so same-sex marriages continue to be honored throughout the nation.[7]

Australia bans recognition of same-sex marriages at the federal level, but the current Australian Labor Party government favors synchronized state and territory registered partnership legislation (as in Tasmania and Victoria). The Australian Capital Territory has civil unions.

New Zealand's Parliament rejected a bill that would have prohibited the recognition same-sex marriage in New Zealand in December 2005. However, New Zealand's Marriage Act 1955 still only recognizes marriage rights for opposite-sex couples. New Zealand's marriage laws consider transsexuals who have undergone reassignment surgery as having changed sex for legal purposes, following Family Court and High Court of New Zealand decisions in 1995.

     No information
Homosexuality legal      Same-sex marriage1      Other type of partnership (or unregistered cohabitation)2      Foreign same-sex marriages recognized      No recognition of same-sex couples3
Homosexuality illegal      Minimal penalty      Large penalty      Life in prison      Death penalty

1 Vermont (USA) effective 1 September 2009, Maine (USA) effective 14 September 2009, New Hampshire (USA) effective 1 January 2010
2 Wisconsin (USA) effective 3 August 2009, Nevada (USA) effective 1 October 2009
3 See Homosexuality in India for more information about India's legal status
v  d  e

Israel's High Court of Justice ruled to honor same-sex marriages granted in other countries even though Israel itself does not issue such licenses. A bill was raised in the Knesset (parliament) to rescind the High Court's ruling, but the Knesset has not advanced the bill since December 2006.

In France, in 2006, a 30-member nonquorum parliamentary commission of the French National Assembly published a 453-page Report on the Family and the rights of Children, which rejected same-sex marriages. [8]

The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, Norway, and Sweden are the only countries in which the legal status of same-sex marriages are exactly the same as that of opposite-sex marriages, though South Africa is due to fully harmonize its marriage laws. Nepal's highest court, in November 2008, issued final judgment on matters related to LGBT rights. Based on the court recommendation the government announced its intention to introduce a same-sex marriage bill by 2010.[9][10][11][12][13]

The granting and honoring of same-sex marriages is also currently being considered by a handful of countries, such as in Portugal[14] and Uruguay,[15] where the recognition same-sex marriages is officially on the platforms of the political parties currently leading in the polls.[14][16][17] Additional South American nations have taken up such proposals, with the Justice Minister of Argentina working to submit a gender neutral law draft before the Congress,[18] while the Parliament of Venezuela debates a same-sex marriage bill.[19] In Europe, the current governing party of Iceland has also recently hinted that it intends to reconstruct its marriage laws, thereby making them gender neutral.[20] In early July, the minister of Slovenia announced that the country would likely legalize same-sex marriages in the near future after the government agreed that same-sex couples deserve to be entitled to all of the same benefits of opposite-sex couples.[21]

In the United States, although same-sex marriages are not recognized federally, same-sex couples can marry in six states. [22][23] Additionally, several states offer civil unions or domestic partnerships, granting all or part of the state-level rights and responsibilities of marriage.[24][25] In 1996, the United States Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defining marriage solely as a union between a couple of the opposite sex for all federal purposes and allowing for the nonrecognition amongst the states.[26] President Barack Obama's political platform includes full repeal of the DOMA.[27]

Civil unions and partnerships

The first same-sex union to be sanctioned by a state in modern history was in Denmark in 1989.

Civil unions, civil partnerships, domestic partnerships, and unregistered partnership/unregistered co-habitation or registered partnerships offer varying amounts of the benefits of marriage and are available in: Andorra, Australia, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. They are also available in some parts of Argentina (Villa Carlos Paz, Río Cuarto, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Río Negro), Mexico (Coahuila and the Federal District), and the United States (including; California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Wisconsin and Washington, and the federal District of Columbia).

File:New York City Proposition 8 Protest outside LDS temple
The notion of civil unions is rejected by some, such as this protester at a large demonstration in New York City against California Proposition 8.[28] U.S. Same-sex marriage movement founder Evan Wolfson does not feel civil unions are a replacement for full marriage equality.[29]

In the United Kingdom, civil partnerships were introduced in 2005. The law gives civil partners identical legal status to a marriage, and partners gain all the same benefits and associated legal rights; ranging from tax exemptions and joint property rights, to next-of-kin status and shared parenting responsibilities. Partnership ceremonies are performed by a marriage registrar in exactly the same manner as a secular civil marriage. In the first year, 16,100 ceremonies took place.[30] Civil unions in New Zealand are identical to British civil partnerships in their association with equivalent spousal rights and responsibilities to full-fledged opposite-sex marriage.

In Australia, Commonwealth law prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriage. However, all states and territories provide a range of rights to same-sex cohabiting couples, equal to those afforded to opposite-sex de facto couples. These rights are gained without registration. Furthermore, formal domestic partnership registries exist in Tasmania, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory. Since November 2008, same-sex couples are recognized as de facto partners in a wide range of Commonwealth legislation, including superannuation, social security, health care and taxation.[31] In 2007, Grace Abrams and Fiona Power became Australia's first legally recognized same-sex married couple after Grace Abrams had gender-modification surgery and was later officially granted a passport with female status.[32]

Norway and Sweden did have registered partnerships, but got rid of them and then turned them into full civil marriage. In Denmark, Finland, and Iceland, a registered partnership is "nearly" equal to marriage, including legal joint adoption rights in Denmark and Iceland. Finland and Greenland have biological adoption only (no joint adoption). These partnership laws are short laws that state that wherever the word "marriage" appears in the country's law, it will now also be construed to mean "registered partnership", and wherever the word "spouse" appears, it will now also be construed to mean "registered partner" — thereby transferring the body of marriage laws onto same-sex couples in registered partnerships.

In some countries with legal recognition the actual benefits are minimal. Many people consider civil unions, even those which grant equal rights, inadequate, as they create a separate status, and think they should be replaced by gender-neutral marriage.[33]

International organizations

The terms of employment of the staff of international organizations (not businesses) are not, in most cases, governed by the laws of the country in which their offices are located. Agreements with the host country safeguard these organizations' impartiality with regard to the host and member countries. Hiring and firing practices, working hours and environment, holiday time, pension plans, health insurance and life insurance, salaries, expatriation benefits and general conditions of employment are managed according to rules and regulations proper to each organization. The independence of these organizations gives them the freedom to implement human resource policies which are even contrary to the laws of their host and member countries. A person who is otherwise eligible for employment in Belgium may not become an employee of the NATO civilian secretariat in Brussels unless he or she is a citizen of a NATO member state.[34] The World Health Organization has recently banned the recruitment of cigarette smokers.[35] Agencies of the United Nations coordinate some human resource policies amongst themselves.

Despite their relative independence, few organizations currently recognize same-sex partnerships without condition. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the agencies of the United Nations voluntarily discriminate between opposite-sex marriages and same-sex marriages, as well as discriminating between employees on the basis of nationality. These organizations recognize same-sex marriages only if the country of citizenship of the employees in question recognizes the marriage. In some cases, these organizations do offer a limited selection of the benefits normally provided to opposite-sex married couples to de facto partners or domestic partners of their staff, but even individuals who have entered into an opposite-sex civil union in their home country are not guaranteed full recognition of this union in all organizations. However, the World Bank does recognize domestic partners.[36]

Transgender and intersex persons

When sex is defined legally, it may be defined by any one of several criteria: the XY sex-determination system, the type of gonads, or the type of external sexual features. Consequently, both transsexuals and intersexed individuals may be legally categorized into confusing gray areas, and could be prohibited from marrying partners of the "opposite" sex or permitted to marry partners of the "same" sex due to arbitrary legal distinctions. This could result in long-term marriages, as well as recent same-sex marriages, being overturned.

The problems of defining gender by the existence/non-existence of gonads or certain sexual features is complicated by the existence of surgical methods to alter these features. These complications are probably more likely than one would think at first glance; according to the highest estimates (Fausto-Sterling et al., 2000) perhaps 1 percent of live births exhibit some degree of sexual ambiguity, and between 0.1% and 0.2% of live births are ambiguous enough to become the subject of specialist medical attention, including sometimes involuntary surgery to address their sexual ambiguity.[37]

In any legal jurisdiction where marriages are defined without distinction of a requirement of a male and female, these complications do not occur. In addition, some legal jurisdictions may recognize a legal and official change of gender, which would allow a transsexual to be legally married in accordance with his or her adopted gender identity.

In the United Kingdom, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows a person who has lived in their chosen gender for at least two years to receive a gender recognition certificate officially recognizing their new gender. Because in the UK marriages are for mixed-sex couples and civil partnerships are for same-sex couples, a person must dissolve his/her marriage or civil partnership before obtaining a gender recognition certificate. Such persons are then free to enter or re-enter civil partnerships or marriages in accordance with their newly recognized gender identity.

In the United States, transsexual and intersexual marriages typically run into the complications detailed above. As definitions and enforcement of marriage are defined by the states, these complications vary from state to state.

Debates over terminology

Some proponents of same-sex marriages use the term "marriage equality" to stress that they seek equality as opposed to special rights.[38] Some opponents argue that equating same-sex and opposite-sex marriages changes the meaning of marriage and its traditions.[39] Alan Dershowitz and others have suggested reserving the word "marriage" for religious contexts as part of privatizing marriage, and in civil and legal contexts using a uniform concept of civil unions, in part to strengthen the separation between church and state.[40] In the United States, one libertarian economist claims that the conflation of marriage with contractual agreements is itself a threat to marriage.[41]

Use of scare quotes in print and online media

Some publications that oppose same-sex marriages adopt an editorial style policy of placing the word marriage in scare quotes ("marriage") when it is used in reference to same-sex couples. In the United States, the mainstream press has generally abandoned this practice.[42] Some online publications, such as WorldNetDaily and Baptist Press, still follow the practice. Cliff Kincaid argues for use of scare quotes on the grounds that marriage is a legal status denied same-sex couples by most state governments.[43] Same-sex marriage supporters argue that the use of scare quotes is an editorialization that implies illegitimacy.[44]

Associated Press style recommends the usages marriage for gays and lesbians or in space-limited headlines gay marriage with no hyphen and no scare quotes. AP warns that the construct gay marriage can imply that marriage licenses offered to gay and lesbian couples are somehow legally different, as such it should be avoided as much as possible in favor of marriage for gays and lesbians.


While few societies have recognized same-sex unions as marriages, the historical and anthropological record reveals a large range of attitudes towards same-sex unions ranging from praise, to sympathetic toleration, to indifference, to prohibition. Organizations opposed to same-sex marriages have argued that same-sex marriages are not marriages,[45] that legalization of same-sex marriages will open the door for the legalization of polygamy,[46] that recognition of same-sex marriages would erode religious freedoms,[47] and that same-sex marriages deprive children of either a mother or a father.[48] Other opponents of gay marriages hold that same-sex marriages are unnatural.[49]

Some supporters of same-sex marriages take the view that the government should have no role in regulating personal relationships,[50] while others argue that same-sex marriages would provide social benefits to same-sex couples.[51] A 2004 Statement by the American Anthropological Association states that there is no evidence that society needs to maintain "marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution", and, further, that same-sex unions can "contribute to stable and humane societies."[52] Gay activist Jonathan Rauch has argued that marriage is good for all men, whether homosexual or heterosexual, because engaging in its social roles reduces men's aggression and promiscuity.[53][54] After reviewing current psychological and other social science studies on same-sex marriage in comparison to opposite-sex marriage, Gregory M. Herek claims that the data [55] indicate that same-sex and opposite-sex relationships do not differ in their essential psychosocial dimensions; that a parent's sexual orientation is unrelated to their ability to provide a healthy and nurturing family environment; and that marriage bestows substantial psychological, social, and health benefits. Herek concludes that same-sex couples and their children are likely to benefit in numerous ways from legal recognition of their families, and providing such recognition through marriage will bestow greater benefit than civil unions or domestic partnerships.[55]

The debate regarding same-sex marriages includes debate based upon social viewpoints as well as debate based on majority rules i.e. will of the people, religious convictions, economic arguments, health-related concerns, and a variety of other issues.

Judicial versus legislative

A "majority rules" position regards same-sex marriages void and illegal unless it be accepted by a simple majority of voters or of their elected representatives.[56] In contrast, a civil-rights view holds that, after carefully studying both sides of the controversy, an impartial judiciary in upholding its constitutional duties should decide whether the right to marry regardless of the gender of the participants is constitutionally guaranteed.[57]

In May 2008, the California Supreme Court found the state's opposite-sex definition of marriage to be unconstitutional, reasoning that certain fundamental rights should be placed "beyond the reach" of popular votes and elected officials.[58] In November 2008, the court's decision was later overturned in part by the passage of Proposition 8. After a court challenge was filed, California's Attorney General, Jerry Brown, urged the state supreme court to overturn Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, due to the "fundamental liberty interest" cited in the state Constitution as well as due to the manner it was ratified.[59][60] On Tuesday, May 26, 2009, the state supreme court upheld the manner in which Proposition 8 was ratified and its immediate effect on the laws of the State of California as constitutionally valid. The court also held that since the common-law precedent did not warrant nor did the language of the proposition explicitly proscribed, retroactive application could not stand; hence, the 18,000 same-sex marriages legally granted before the measure passage remain valid.[61] The governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced that his administration will not defend proposition 8 in federal court citing his adherence to the civil rights stance on the issue.[62]

Religious arguments

Arguments both in opposition to and in favor of same-sex marriages are often made on religious grounds and/or formulated in terms of religious doctrine.

Many objections to same-sex marriages are based upon religious grounds. Religious opponents of same-sex marriages sometimes claim that extending marriage rights to same-sex couples could undercut the conventional purpose of marriage, or would be contrary to God's will.[63][64][65] Some religious advocates of "traditional marriage" contend that to call same-sex relationships "marriages" is a misnomer, because marriage necessarily involves the uniting of two members of the opposite sex.[66][67][68] Other religious opponents argue that same-sex marriages would encourage individuals to act upon homosexual urges, rather than seeking help to overcome same-sex attraction.[65]

Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, religious objections to same-sex marriages are often based upon biblical passages at Genesis 19:5, Leviticus 18:22, and Leviticus 20:13. Within the Christian tradition, such objections are often based on Romans 1, I Corinthians 6:8-10, and Jude 1:7. Religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriages include the Assemblies of God,[69] Church of God in Christ,[70] Church of Christ, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons),[71] the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference,[72] the Conservative Mennonite Conference,[73] the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Hutterite Brethren,[74] the Orthodox Church in America,[75] the Roman Catholic Church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church,[76] the Southern Baptist Convention,[77] the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU),[78] and the United Pentecostal Church International.

Some liberal Christians such as the Metropolitan Community Church, the United Church of Christ and progressive congregations within the mainline denominations believe that biblical texts refer only to specific sex acts and idolatrous worship lacking relevance to contemporary same-sex relationships.[79] Some Christians support religious and legal recognition of same-sex marriages based on a moral commitment to equality, or a belief that "human sexual orientations, whether heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual, are a gift from God."[80] Several Christian denominations support same-sex marriages and perform same-sex weddings. The three largest are Unitarian Universalists[81], the United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ (UCC).[citation needed]

Judaism, like Christianity, reflects differing views between politically conservative and politically liberal adherents. Orthodox Judaism maintains the traditional Jewish bans on both sexual acts and marriages amongst members of the same sex. Orthodox Judaism also refuses to marry even opposite-sex interfaith couples, as in its view a Jew cannot marry a non-Jew.[82] Some Conservative Jews reject recognition of same-sex unions as marriages, but permit celebration of commitment ceremonies, while others recognize same-sex marriage.[83] Members of Reform Judaism support the inclusion of same-sex unions within the definition of marriage.[84] The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation leaves the choice to individual rabbis.[85]

Due to the ambivalent language about homosexuality in Buddhist teachings, there has been no official stance put forth regarding the issue of same-sex marriage.[86]

Some same-sex married couples have challenged religious organizations that exclude them from access to public facilities maintained by those organizations, such as schools, health care centers, social service agencies, summer camps, homeless shelters, nursing homes, orphanages, retreat houses, community centers, and athletic programs.[87] Opponents of same-sex marriages have expressed concerns that this limits their religious freedoms.[47][88] For example, conservatives worry that a Christian college would risk its tax-exempt status by refusing to admit a legally married gay couple to married-student housing.[89] Some legal analysts suggest that failure to reflect gay rights within their organizations may cost some religious groups their tax-exempt status.[90]

Americans United for Separation of Church and State argue that by defining marriage as an opposite-sex institution, the state infringes upon the constitutional right to freedom of religion.[91][92][93]

Arguments concerning children and the family

Some opponents of same-sex marriages claim that kids orphan or not do best with both a mother and a father[94][95], and that therefore the state should encourage the traditional family structure by discouraging others. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports traditional gender roles in parenting, claiming they are foundational to parenting.[96] Some argue that legal marriage is a way of encouraging monogamy and commitment by those who may create children through their sexual coupling.[97] Stanley Kurtz from the Hoover Institution contends that same-sex marriages separate the ideas of marriage and parenthood, thereby accelerating marital decline by citing studies showing a substantial rise in the out-of-wedlock birthrates, for both firstborn and subsequent children in areas where same-sex unions are legal.[98] Focus on the Family points to academic studies which state that children raised with both parents, as opposed to children raised by single mothers, increase students' cognitive and verbal skills, academic performance, involvement in or avoidance of high-risk behaviors and crime, and emotional and psychological health.[99][100][101][102][103] When comparing the outcomes of different forms of parenting, it is critically important to make appropriate comparisons. For example, differences resulting from the number of parents in a household cannot be attributed to the parents’ gender or sexual orientation. The specific research studies typically cited in this regard do not address parents’ sexual orientation, however, and therefore do not permit any conclusions to be drawn about the consequences of having heterosexual versus nonheterosexual parents, or two parents who are of the same versus different genders.[104] In Conaway v. Deane, the Maryland Supreme Court ruled that the State has a legitimate interest in encouraging the traditional family structure in which children are born. The court then refrained from deciding whether this interest was served by status quo leaving it to the other branches to decide[105] The Massachusetts Supreme Court concluded in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that even if it were the case children did better in a traditional family, something not agreed by the court, the argument is unsound because the state failed to show how banning same sex marriages prevented gay and lesbian individuals from adopting or having children by artificial or natural methods nor did the state show how reserving marriage to heterosexual couples prevented heterosexual individuals from having children out-of-wedlock. [106]

The scientific research has consistently shown that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents. [104][107][108] Research has documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment.[109][104][107][108] The literature indicates that parents’ financial, psychological and physical well-being is enhanced by marriage and that children benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally-recognized union.[107][109][104]

The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and National Association of Social Workers state: "The abilities of gay and lesbian persons as parents and the positive outcomes for their children are not areas where credible scientific researchers disagree. Statements by the leading associations of experts in this area reflect professional consensus that children raised by lesbian or gay parents do not differ in any important respects from those raised by heterosexual parents. No credible empirical research suggests otherwise."[104] As noted by Professor Judith Stacey, of New York University: “Rarely is there as much consensus in any area of social science as in the case of gay parenting, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics and all of the major professional organizations with expertise in child welfare have issued reports and resolutions in support of gay and lesbian parental rights”.[110] Among these mainstream organizations are in the United States the American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, Child Welfare League of America, the American Bar Association, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians,[111] in the United Kingdom, the Royal College of Psychiatrists[112], and in Canada, the Canadian Psychological Association.[107]

Many opponents of same-sex marriage argue that mainstream health and mental health organizations have, in many cases, taken public positions on homosexuality[113][114] and same-sex marriage[115][116] that are based on their own social and political views rather than the available science. On the other hand, for example the Canadian Psychological Association is concerned that some persons and institutions are mis-interpreting the findings of psychological research to support their positions, when their positions are more accurately based on other systems of belief or values.[107]

Arguments concerning divorce rates

File:Wedded couple on Taiwan Pride
Newly wedded same-sex couples in a public wedding at Taiwan Pride 2006.

Internationally, the most comprehensive study[citation needed] to date on the effect of same-sex marriages / partnerships on opposite-sex marriage and divorce rates was conducted looking at over 15 years of data from the Scandinavian countries. The study by researcher Darren Spedale found that 15 years after Denmark had granted same-sex couples the rights of marriage, rates of opposite-sex marriage in those countries had gone up, and rates of opposite-sex divorce had gone down – contradicting the concept that same-sex marriages would have a negative effect on traditional marriages.[117]

However, a study on short-term same-sex marriages/partnerships in Norway and Sweden found that divorce risks are higher in same-sex marriages than in opposite-sex marriages, and that unions of lesbians are considerably less stable, or more dynamic, than unions of gay men.[118] The authors cited that this may be due to same-sex couples' "non- involvement in joint parenthood," "lower exposure to normative pressure about the necessity of life-long unions," and differing motivations for getting married.[118] Another study regarding Swedish same-sex couples found that same-sex unions – even when legally recognized – tended to be of shorter duration than opposite-sex unions.[119]

A multi-method, multi-informant comparison of community samples of committed gay male and lesbian (30 participants each) couples with both committed (50 young engaged and 40 older married participants) and non-committed (109 exclusively dating) opposite-sex pairs was conducted in 2008.[120] Specifically, in this study the quality of same- and opposite-sex relationships was examined at multiple levels of analysis via self-reports and partner reports, laboratory observations, and measures of physiological reactivity during dyadic interactions. Additionally, individuals in same-sex, engaged, and marital relationships were compared with one another on adult attachment security as assessed through the coherence of participants' narratives about their childhood experiences. Results indicated that individuals in committed same-sex relationships were generally not distinguishable from their committed opposite-sex counterparts.

Argument concerning reproduction

Those who advocate that marriage should be defined exclusively as the union of one woman and one man argue that opposite-sex couples provide the procreative foundation that is the chief building block of civilization. Social conservatives and others may see marriage not as a legal construct of the state, but as a naturally occurring "pre-political institution" that the state must recognize just as the government recognizes employment relationships; one such conservative voice reasons that "government does not create marriages any more than government creates jobs."[121] They argue that the definition proposed by same-sex marriage advocates changes the social importance of marriage from its natural function of reproduction into a mere legality or freedom to have sex. Liberals contend that by expanding marriage to gay and lesbians individuals the state actually protects the rights of all children without discrimination while in no way affecting the rights of opposite sex married couples and their children. They also counterclaim that the historic definition of marriage as a license to intercourse and as a license to the treating of a wife as a possession of their husband has already been changed by civilization's progress reminding us that of the legal equality men and women enjoy in civil marriage and that it is no longer illegal to have sexual intercourse before marriage.

In the United States, a common argument in various states' courts against allowing same-sex marriages has been the use of legal marriage to foster the state's interest in human reproduction. In Anderson et al. v. King County, a case that challenged Washington's Defense of Marriage Act, the Washington Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the law passed constitutional scrutiny. The majority concluded that the legislature was entitled to believe, and act on such believe, that only allowing opposite-sex marriages "furthers procreation."[122] In response, a group of marriage advocates filed what became Initiative 957 which, if passed, would have made procreation a legal requirement for marriage in Washington State. The Maryland Supreme Court similarly ruled that it was permissible to confer the benefits of marriage only on opposite-sex couples because of their possibility of procreation."[105]

Some proponents of same-sex marriages argue that restrictive laws as underinvestment because they do not prohibit marriages between sterile opposite-sex couples or to women past menopause, the procreation argument cannot reasonably be used against same-sex marriages.[123] Proponents also consider these laws restricting marriage to be unconstitutionally overinclusive, as gay and lesbian couples can have children either through natural or artificial means.[124]

The California Supreme Court ruled on May 15, 2008, that under California's constitution gays and lesbians cannot be deprived of marriage rights on grounds that marriage is solely for procreation;[125] the effect of this decision was curtailed in part by the passage of Proposition 8 on November 5, 2008,[126][127] which, in turn, was questioned in court to no avail.[128]

Argument concerning marriage privatization

A libertarian argument for marriage privatization holds that the state has no role in defining the terms whereby individuals contract to arrange their personal relationships, regardless of sexual orientation.[129][130][131] People holding this viewpoint argue that the state should have a limited role or no role in defining marriage, only in enforcing those contracts people construct themselves and willfully enter. Those following this line of reasoning believe that efforts to "legitimize" same-sex marriages as a state institution are backwards-looking, and will have the effect of expanding state influence into personal affairs where state influence already does not belong. People opposing same-sex marriages on these grounds, also support scaling back the definition by the state of contractual obligations between opposite sex partners to a same or similar degree.

Arguments concerning equality

File:San Francisco marriage
2004 San Francisco march in support of same-sex marriage

Some opponents of same-sex marriages (including some ex-gay organizations) argue that the opposite-sex definition of marriage is not unequal, unjust, or exclusionary because homosexuality is not genetic or unchangeable.[65][132][133][134] Same-sex marriage opponents support this position with research as well as anecdotal evidence regarding efforts to overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.[135][136] However, several analyses of such studies have argued that they contain statistical and methodological flaws.[137][138][139][140][141][142][143][144][145][146]

For the purposes of constitutional law, the state cannot discriminate against a person that belongs to a class even when the individual has the ability not to belong to such a class. For example, a non-Christian person has the legal ability to become a Christian. Few would argue that this alone would allow the state to discriminate against non-Christians because, say, their choice of religion is not immutable, or because the best environment for children is a "christian one", or because the majority has decided so. Whether a group belongs to a suspect class is only used in determining the methodology, namely strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny or rational basis , courts must use to review the constitutionality of a given statute on equal protection challenge grounds.

Only a few state courts ever considered challenges to marriage law. Among them, the New York Court of Appeals[147] and the Maryland Supreme Court,[148] have held an opposite-sex definition of marriage to be constitutional with regards to these states constitutions; in these cases the majorities declined to interpret the federal Constitution . The Maryland Supreme Court ruled that discrimination does not take place nor are constitutional rights denied in their laws that prohibit same-gender marriages; the court held that these state laws protect that state's interest to have and protect children[148] and that in Maryland "there is no fundamental right to marry a person of your own sex".[105]

Others argue that an opposite-sex definition of marriage is inherently unequal because it denies two consenting adults as a couple based on sexual orientation their right to marry the person they love and for the state to determine the consenting adult they can or cannot chose to mary infringes on a fundamental liberty interest. For instance, a heterosexual U.S. citizen who marries a foreign partner immediately qualifies to bring that person to the United States, while long-term gay and lesbian binational partners are denied the same rights, forcing foreign gay partners to seek expensive temporary employer or school-sponsored visas or face separation.[149] In the court cases leading up to the legalization of same-sex marriages in Canada, the restriction of legal marriage to opposite-sex couples was overturned because it was found to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, in violation of the equality guarantees of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

[[File:|right|thumb|Newlywed male same-sex couple at Gaypride 2006 in Reykjavik.]]

Some opponents of extending marriage to same-sex couples claim that equality can be achieved with civil unions or other forms of legal recognition that do not go as far as to use the word "marriage" that is used for opposite-sex couples. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health held, in contrast, that there is a fundamental dissimilitude between "civil marriage" and "civil union" indicated in the very choice of language.[106]

The following state supreme courts have held that an opposite-sex definition of marriage is unconstitutional and discriminatory being contrary to their state constitutions: Connecticut (28-Oct-2008)[150], Iowa (3-Apr-2009)[151], California (later reversed by constitutional amendment[126]), Hawaii (later reversed by constitutional amendment), Massachusetts (18-Nov-2003) [152], New Jersey (25-Oct-2006) [153], and Vermont (21-Dec-1999)[154] (see Same-sex marriage in the United States, Same-sex marriage status in the United States by state, Proposition 8, and Hawaii Constitutional Amendment 2 (1998)).[155]

Parallels to interracial marriage

Proponents of same-sex marriages make a comparison between racial segregation and segregation of homosexual and heterosexual marriage classifications in civil family law.[156] They argue that dividing the concept of same-sex marriage and different-sex marriage is tantamount to "separate but equal" policies (like that overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education), or anti-miscegenation laws that were also overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia.

Opponents of same-sex marriages argue that women and men are fundamentally different from one another, whereas interracial couples still fit within the "one woman and one man" definition of marriage.[157] Louisiana State University law professor Katherine Spaht holds that there is an inherent difference between most interracial marriages and all same-sex marriages because same-sex couples cannot procreate whereas interracial couples most of the time can ; Prof. Spaht characterizes the debate as follows: “The fundamental understanding of marriage has always been, by definition, a man and a woman. Never did Webster’s Dictionary define the term marriage in terms of the races."[158]

In 1972, after the Minnesota Supreme Court's ruling in Baker v. Nelson specifically distinguished Loving as not being applicable to the same-sex marriage debate, the United States Supreme Court dismissed the appeal "for want of a substantial federal question." This type of dismissal may constitute a decision on the merits of the case or constitute a matter not concerning Federal constitutional jurisdiction; as such, it is debatable whether Baker should be a binding precedent on all lower federal courts.

Legal effect on same sex couples

The legal effect marriage has on same sex couples when marriage licenses are issued to them and honored by the states in which they live is indistiguishable from any other legal effect marriage has on any other couple under the law.

Economic effects on same sex couples

Dr. M. V. Lee Badgett, an economist and associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has studied the impact of same-sex legal marriage on four groups.

Impact on same-sex couples: Badgett finds that exclusion from legal marriage has an economic impact on same-sex couples. According to a 1997 General Accounting Office study requested by Rep. Henry Hyde (R), at least 1,049 U.S. Federal laws and regulations include reference to marital status. A later 2004 study by the Congressional Budget Office finds 1,138 statutory provisions "in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving 'benefits, rights, and privileges.'"[159] Many of these laws govern property rights, benefits, and taxation. Same-sex couples are ineligible for spousal and survivor Social Security benefits. Badgett's research finds the resulting difference in Social Security income for same-sex couples compared to opposite-sex married couples is US$5,588 per year. The federal ban on same-sex marriage and benefits through the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) extends to federal government employee benefits. According to Badgett's work, same-sex couples face other financial challenges against which legal marriage at least partially shields opposite-sex couples:

  • potential loss of couple's home from medical expenses of one partner caring for another gravely ill one
  • costs of supporting two households, travel, or emigration out of the U.S. for an American citizen unable to legally marry a non-U.S. citizen
  • higher cost of purchasing private insurance for partner and children if company is not one of 18% that offer domestic partner benefits
  • higher taxes: unlike a company's contribution to an employee's spouse's health insurance, domestic partner benefits are taxed as additional compensation
  • legal costs associated with obtaining domestic partner documents to gain some of the power of attorney, health care decision-making, and inheritance rights granted through legal marriage
  • higher health costs associated with lack of insurance and preventative care: 20% of same-sex couples have a member who is uninsured compared to 10% of married opposite-sex couples
  • current tax law allows a spouse to inherit an unlimited amount from the deceased without incurring an estate tax but an unmarried partner would have to pay the estate tax on the inheritance from her/his partner
  • same-sex couples are not eligible to file jointly or separately as a married couple and thus cannot take the advantages of lower tax rates when the individual income of the partners differs significantly

While state laws grant full marriage rights (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont) or some or all of the benefits under another name (New Jersey, California, etc.), these state laws do not extend the benefits of marriage on the Federal level, and most states do not currently recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions from other states.

One often overlooked aspect of same-sex marriage are the potential negative effects on same-sex couples. While the legal benefits of marriage are numerous, same-sex couples would face the same financial constraints of legal marriage as opposite-sex married couples. Such potential effects include the marriage penalty in taxation. Similarly, while social service providers usually do not count one partner's assets toward the income means test for welfare and disability assistance for the other partner, a legally married couple's joint assets are normally used in calculating whether a married individual qualifies for assistance.

Economic effects on the economy as a whole

Impact on businesses: Dr. M. V. Lee Badgett's research estimates the potential impact on businesses of same-sex marriage legalization to be $2 billion to the wedding industry alone. Badgett derives this estimate by calculating the amount spent on weddings if a) half of same-sex couples marry and b) each couple spends 1/4 the average amount spent on a opposite-sex wedding (US$27,600 average wedding cost / 4=US$6,900 per same-sex couple).

Impact on employers: In terms of employers where marriage opponents fear higher benefit costs, Badgett and Mercer Human Resources Consulting separately find less than 1% of employees with a same-sex partner sign up for domestic partner benefits when a company offers them. Badgett finds less than 0.3% of Massachusetts firms' employees signed up for spousal benefits when that state legalized same-sex marriage.

Impact on governments: A 2004 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report examines the impact of allowing the 1.2 million Americans in same-sex domestic partnerships in the 2000 Census to marry and finds the impact to be comparatively small in terms of the huge Federal budget. While some spending on Federal programs would increase, these outlays would be offset by savings in other spending areas. The report predicts that if same-sex marriage was legalized in all 50 states and on the Federal level, the U.S. government would bring in a net surplus of US$1 billion per year over the next 10 years.[159]

Opposing Viewpoints research indicates that allowing marriage for same sex couples would stimulate the economy by increasing business activity, and thus increase sales tax revenues for the states where such marriages are permitted.[160] The Williams Institute of UCLA has conducted several studies which indicated allowing same sex marriage would increase business activity in relevant industries and also boost state income tax revenues.[161]

Impacts on mental health

Recently, several psychological studies[162][163][164] have shown that an increase in exposure to negative conversations and media messages about same-sex marriage creates a harmful environment for the LGBT population that may affect their health and well-being.

One study surveyed more than 1,500 lesbian, gay and bisexual adults across the nation and found that respondents from the 25 states that have outlawed same-sex marriage had the highest reports of "minority stress" — the chronic social stress that results from minority-group stigmatization — as well as general psychological distress. According to the study, the negative campaigning that comes with a ban is directly responsible for the increased stress. Past research has shown that minority stress is linked to health risks such as risky sexual behavior and substance abuse.[165]

Two other studies examined personal reports from LGBT adults and their families living in Memphis, Tennessee, immediately after a successful 2006 ballot campaign banned same-sex marriage. Most respondents reported feeling alienated from their communities, afraid that they would lose custody of their children and that they might become victims of violence. The studies also found that families experienced a kind of secondary minority stress, says Jennifer Arm, a counseling graduate student at the University of Memphis.[166]

See also

File:Portal LGBT portal

Documentaries and literature


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External links


  • Boswell, John (1995). The Marriage of Likeness: Same-sex Unions in Pre-modern Europe. New York: Simon Harper and Collins. ISBN 0-00-255508-5. 
  • Boswell, John (1994). Same-sex Unions in Premodern Europe. New York: Villard Books. ISBN 0-679-43228-0. 
  • Caramagno, Thomas C. (2002). Irreconcilable Differences? Intellectual Stalemate in the Gay Rights Debate. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-97721-8. 
  • Cere, Daniel (2004). Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canada's New Social Experiment. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-2895-4. 
  • Chauncey, George (2004). Why Marriage?: The History Shaping Today's Debate over Gay Equality. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00957-3. 
  • Dobson, James C. (2004). Marriage Under Fire. Sisters, Or.: Multnomah. ISBN 1-59052-431-4. 
  • Larocque, Sylvain (2006). Gay Marriage: The Story of a Canadian Social Revolution. Toronto: James Lorimer & Company. ISBN 1-55028-927-6. 
  • Moats, David (2004). Civil Wars: A Battle For Gay Marriage. New York, NY: Harcourt, Inc.. ISBN 0-15-101017-X. 
  • Rauch, Jonathan (2004). Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC. ISBN 0-80507-815-0. 
  • Spedale, Darren (2006). Gay Marriage: For Better or For Worse? What We've Learned From the Evidence. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-518751-2. 
  • Truluck, Rembert S. (2000). Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse. Gaithersburg, MD: Chi Rho Press, Inc.. ISBN 1-888493-16-X. 
  • Wolfson, Evan (2004). Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-6459-2. 
  • Robert P. George, Jean Bethke Elshtain (Eds.), ed (2006). The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, And Morals. Dallas: Spence Publishing Company. ISBN 1-890626-64-3. 
  • Robert E. Goss, Amy Adams Squire Strongheart (Eds.), ed (2008). Our Families, Our Values: Snapshots of Queer Kinship. New York, NY: The Harrington Park Press, An Imprint of the Haworth Press, Inc.. ISBN 1-56023-910-7. 
  • Douglas Laycock, Anthony Picarello, Jr., Robin Fretwell Wilson (Eds.), ed (2008). Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.. ISBN 0-74256-326-X. 
  • Andrew Sullivan (Editor), ed (2004). Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con - A Reader, Revised Updated Edition. New York, NY: Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc.. ISBN 1-40007-866-0. 
  • Oliver, Marylin Tower (1998). Gay and Lesbian Rights, A Struggle. Springfield, NJ: Enslow. 
  • Wedgewood, Ralpbh (1999). Homosexuality: Opposing Viewpoints. Dallas: Spence Publishing Company. 

Simple English

Same-sex marriage (also known as gay marriage)[1] is a term for a relationship in which two people of the same sex live together as a family in a governmentally, socially, or religiously recognized marriage.


Current status

Marriage by the civil law is presently available to same-sex couples at any place in some countries. The countries that have them are the Netherlands, South Africa, Canada, Argentina, Iceland, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Portugal and Belgium. The Netherlands was the first country to allow marriages of two people of the same sex in 2001.[2].

Some countries have them in some places and not others, such as the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia in the United States, and Mexico City in Mexico.


In the Netherlands, a same-sex marriage law does not actually exist. Back in 2001, the existing (normal) marriage law was 'only' changed, so that it now includes marriage of same-sex partners. This means that same-sex marriage in the Netherlands is not different from a normal marriage; it's exactly the same. The Dutch law says the following:

A marriage is possible between two persons of different or same sex
--Dutch civil law, book 1, article 30[3]

That is consistent with the first article of the Dutch civil law, and with the Dutch constitution:

All who are in the Netherlands, are free to benefit from civil rights
Dutch civil law, book 1, article 1[4]
All who are in the Netherlands, are to be treated equal in equal circumstances. Discrimination by religion, philosophy, political preference, race, gender, or by any means possible is forbidden.
Dutch constitution, article 1[5]

Civil unions

The first same-sex union in modern history was recognized by the government in Denmark in 1989.

Civil unions, civil partnership, domestic partnership, unregistered partnership/unregistered co-habitation or registered partnerships offer some of the benefits of marriage and are available in: Andorra, Australia (except Commonwealth law), Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary (unregisterd co-habitation since 1996; registered partnership from 2009), Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway (no longer separate civil union as of June 2008 same-sex marriages are under same law as male-female-marriages), Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay. They are also available in some parts of Argentina, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Mexico, the U.S. states of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state, and the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.).

In the United Kingdom, civil partnerships have identical legal status to a marriage, and partners have all the same benefits and legal rights; ranging from tax exemptions and joint property rights, to next-of-kin status and shared parenting responsibilities. Partnership ceremonies are performed by a marriage registrar in exactly the same manner as a secular civil marriage.


The controversy over recognition of same-sex unions as marriages is a very important part of a larger debate about the definition of a family. Same-sex marriage is not considered as valid by many religions, including the Catholic Church and Islam. Many others, however, see same-sex marriage as important for all people to be equal. They sometimes say that religions who do not support same-sex marriage are intolerant (they do not show respect to other peoples' beliefs).

Organizations involved in same sex marriage

Various organizations exist in part to support the rights of homosexual or gay men and women to marry people of the same sex. One organization is the human rights campaign or HRC.

Other websites



  • Robert P. George, Jean Bethke Elshtain (Eds.), ed (2006). The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Market, And Morals. Dallas: Spence Publishing Company. ISBN 1-890626-64-3. 

Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 16, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Same-sex marriage, which are similar to those in the above article.

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