Same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage

Overview
Same-sex marriage is marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender
Gender identity
A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex. Basic gender identity is usually formed by age three and is extremely difficult to...

. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality.

Since 2001, ten countries have begun allowing same-sex couples to marry nationwide: Argentina, Belgium
Same-sex marriage in Belgium
On June 1, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage, with some restrictions. Originally, Belgium allowed the marriages of foreign same-sex couples only if their country of origin also allowed these unions...

, Canada
Same-sex marriage in Canada
On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act which provided a gender-neutral marriage definition...

, Iceland, the Netherlands
Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the Netherlands since 1 April 2001...

, Norway
Same-sex marriage in Norway
Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway on January 1, 2009 when a gender neutral marriage bill was enacted after being passed by the Norwegian legislature in June 2008...

, Portugal
Same-sex marriage in Portugal
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Portugal since June 5, 2010. The government of Prime Minister José Sócrates introduced a bill for legalization in December 2009; it was passed by the Assembly of the Republic in February 2010. The bill was declared legally valid by the Portuguese Constitutional...

, Spain
Same-sex marriage in Spain
Same-sex marriage in Spain has been legal since July 3, 2005. In 2004, the nation's newly elected social democratic government, led by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its legalization, including the right of adoption by same-sex couples...

, South Africa
Same-sex marriage in South Africa
Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 30 November 2006, when the Civil Union Act, 2006 came into force, having been passed by Parliament earlier that month. A ruling by the Constitutional Court on 1 December 2005 had given Parliament one year to make same-sex marriage legal...

, and Sweden
Same-sex marriage in Sweden
Same-sex marriage in Sweden has been legal since 1 May 2009, following the adoption of a new, gender-neutral law on marriage by the Swedish parliament on 1 April 2009, making Sweden the seventh country in the world to open marriage to same sex couples nationwide...

. Same-sex marriages are also performed and recognized in Mexico City
Same-sex marriage in Mexico City
Same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City —the Federal District of Mexico— having been approved by its Legislative Assembly on 21 December 2009, and signed into law by Head of Government Marcelo Ebrard on 29 December 2009...

 and parts of the United States
Same-sex marriage in the United States
The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage in the United States, but such marriages are recognized by some individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defense of Marriage Act, before Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses...

.
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Encyclopedia
Same-sex marriage is marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender
Gender identity
A gender identity is the way in which an individual self-identifies with a gender category, for example, as being either a man or a woman, or in some cases being neither, which can be distinct from biological sex. Basic gender identity is usually formed by age three and is extremely difficult to...

. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality.

Since 2001, ten countries have begun allowing same-sex couples to marry nationwide: Argentina, Belgium
Same-sex marriage in Belgium
On June 1, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage, with some restrictions. Originally, Belgium allowed the marriages of foreign same-sex couples only if their country of origin also allowed these unions...

, Canada
Same-sex marriage in Canada
On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act which provided a gender-neutral marriage definition...

, Iceland, the Netherlands
Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the Netherlands since 1 April 2001...

, Norway
Same-sex marriage in Norway
Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway on January 1, 2009 when a gender neutral marriage bill was enacted after being passed by the Norwegian legislature in June 2008...

, Portugal
Same-sex marriage in Portugal
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Portugal since June 5, 2010. The government of Prime Minister José Sócrates introduced a bill for legalization in December 2009; it was passed by the Assembly of the Republic in February 2010. The bill was declared legally valid by the Portuguese Constitutional...

, Spain
Same-sex marriage in Spain
Same-sex marriage in Spain has been legal since July 3, 2005. In 2004, the nation's newly elected social democratic government, led by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its legalization, including the right of adoption by same-sex couples...

, South Africa
Same-sex marriage in South Africa
Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 30 November 2006, when the Civil Union Act, 2006 came into force, having been passed by Parliament earlier that month. A ruling by the Constitutional Court on 1 December 2005 had given Parliament one year to make same-sex marriage legal...

, and Sweden
Same-sex marriage in Sweden
Same-sex marriage in Sweden has been legal since 1 May 2009, following the adoption of a new, gender-neutral law on marriage by the Swedish parliament on 1 April 2009, making Sweden the seventh country in the world to open marriage to same sex couples nationwide...

. Same-sex marriages are also performed and recognized in Mexico City
Same-sex marriage in Mexico City
Same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City —the Federal District of Mexico— having been approved by its Legislative Assembly on 21 December 2009, and signed into law by Head of Government Marcelo Ebrard on 29 December 2009...

 and parts of the United States
Same-sex marriage in the United States
The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage in the United States, but such marriages are recognized by some individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defense of Marriage Act, before Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses...

. Some jurisdictions that do not perform same-sex marriages recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere: Israel
Same-sex marriage in Israel
Same-sex marriage cannot legally be performed in Israel, because only government-recognized religious authorities — all of whom disallow same-sex marriage — may officiate marriages. There are no provisions for civil or secular marriages in Israel. However, foreign marriages, including same-sex...

, the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Same-sex marriage in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
Same-sex marriages are not conducted in Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten, which are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Since many of the residents of the countries are Roman Catholic, the issue of same-sex marriage is one where opposition is large...

, parts of the United States, and all states of Mexico. Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 recognises same-sex marriages only by one partner changing their sex after marriage..

The introduction of same-sex marriage has varied by jurisdiction, resulting from legislative changes to marriage laws, court challenges based on constitutional guarantees of equality, or a combination of the two. In some countries, allowing same-sex couples to marry replaced a previous system of civil union
Civil union
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,...

s or registered partnerships.

The recognition of such marriages is a civil rights, political, social, moral, and religious issue in many nations. The conflicts arise over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to enter into marriage, be required to use a different status (such as a civil union, which either grant equal rights as marriage or limited rights in comparison to marriage), or not have any such rights. A related issue is whether the term marriage should be applied.

One argument in support of same-sex marriage is that denying same-sex couples legal access to marriage and all of its attendant benefits represents discrimination based on sexual orientation; several American scientific bodies agree with this assertion. Another argument in support of same-sex marriage is the assertion that financial, psychological and physical well-being are enhanced by marriage, and that children of same-sex couples benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally recognized union supported by society's institutions. Court documents filed by American scientific associations also state that singling out gay men and women as ineligible for marriage both stigmatizes and invites public discrimination against them. The American Anthropological Association avers that social science research does not support the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon not recognizing same-sex marriage. Other arguments for same-sex marriage are based upon what is regarded as a universal human rights issue, mental and physical health concerns, equality before the law
Equality before the law
Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle under which each individual is subject to the same laws....

, and the goal of normalizing
Normalization (sociology)
Normalization refers to social processes through which ideas and actions come to be seen as "normal" and become taken-for-granted or 'natural' in everyday life. In sociological theory normalization appears in two forms....

 LGBT
LGBT
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

 relationships. Al Sharpton
Al Sharpton
Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton, Jr. is an American Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and television/radio talk show host. In 2004, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election...

 and several other authors attribute opposition to same-sex marriage as coming from homophobia
Homophobia
Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay and in some cases bisexual, transgender people and behavior, although these are usually covered under other terms such as biphobia and transphobia. Definitions refer to irrational fear, with the...

 or heterosexism
Heterosexism
Heterosexism is a system of attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that everyone is heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior...

 and liken prohibitions on same-sex marriage to past prohibitions on interracial marriage
Anti-miscegenation laws
Anti-miscegenation laws, also known as miscegenation laws, were laws that enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races...

.

One argument against same-sex marriage arises from a rejection of the use of the word "marriage" as applied to same-sex couples, as well as objections about the legal and social status of marriage itself being applied to same-sex partners under any terminology. Other stated arguments include direct and indirect social consequences of same-sex marriages, parenting concerns, religious grounds
Religious arguments about same-sex marriage
Arguments both in favor and in opposition of same-sex marriages are often made on religious grounds and/or formulated in terms of religious doctrine.-Christianity:...

, and tradition.

Definitions of marriage



Anthropologists have struggled to come up with a definition of marriage that absorbs commonalities of the social construct across cultures. Many proposed definitions have been criticized for failing to recognize the existence of same-sex marriage in some cultures, including in more than 30 African cultures, such as the Kikuyu and Nuer.

With several countries revising their marriage laws to recognize same-sex couples in the 21st century, all major English dictionaries have revised their definition of the word marriage to either drop gender specifications or supplement them with secondary definitions to include gender-neutral language or explicit recognition of same-sex unions. The Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

 has recognized same-sex marriage since 2000.

Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz
Alan Morton Dershowitz is an American lawyer, jurist, and political commentator. He has spent most of his career at Harvard Law School where in 1967, at the age of 28, he became the youngest full professor of law in its history...

 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 union
Civil union
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,...

s, in part to strengthen the separation between church and state. Jennifer Roback Morse, the president of the anti-same-sex marriage group National Organization for Marriage
National Organization for Marriage
The National Organization for Marriage is a nonprofit political association established in 2007 to work against legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States, specifically to pass California Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in California...

's Ruth Institute project, claims that the conflation of marriage with contractual agreements is a threat to marriage.

Terms for same-sex marriage


Some proponents of legal recognition of same-sex marriage, such as Freedom to Marry
Freedom to Marry
Freedom to Marry is a non-profit organization leading the campaign for same-sex marriages to be recognized nationwide in the United States of America...

 and Canadians for Equal Marriage
Canadians for Equal Marriage
Canadians for Equal Marriage is a Canadian public interest group representing Egale Canada, PFLAG Canada, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Psychological Association, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, and the Canadian Association of...

, use the terms marriage equality and equal marriage to indicate that they seek equal benefit of marriage laws as opposed to special rights.

Opponents of same-sex marriage such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is the episcopal conference of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded in 1966 as the joint National Conference of Catholic Bishops and United States Catholic Conference, it is composed of all active and retired members of the Catholic...

, and the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

 use the term traditional marriage to mean marriages between one man and one woman. Anti-same-sex-marriage activist Maggie Gallagher
Maggie Gallagher
Margaret Gallagher Srivastav , better known by her working name Maggie Gallagher, is an American writer, commentator, and opponent of same-sex marriage. She has written a syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate since 1995, and has published five books...

 argues that equating same-sex and opposite-sex marriages changes the meaning of marriage and its traditions.

Some publications that oppose same-sex marriage, such as WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily
WorldNetDaily is an American web site that publishes news and associated content from a U.S. conservative perspective. It was founded in May 1997 by Joseph Farah with the stated intent of "exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power" and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.-History:In...

and Baptist Press
Baptist Press
Baptist Press is the official news service of the American Southern Baptist Convention based at the headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.- Origins and bureaus :...

, have an editorial style policy of placing the word marriage in scare quotes
Scare quotes
Scare quotes are quotation marks placed around a word or phrase to indicate that it does not signify its literal or conventional meaning.- History :Use of the term "scare quotes" appears to have arisen at some point during the first half of the 20th century...

 ("marriage") when it is used in reference to same-sex couples. In the United States, the mainstream press has generally abandoned this practice. Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media
Accuracy in Media
Accuracy In Media is an American, non-profit news media watchdog founded in 1969 by economist Reed Irvine. AIM describes itself as "a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that...

 argues for use of quotation marks on the grounds that marriage is a legal status denied same-sex couples by most state governments. Same-sex marriage supporters argue that the use of scare quotes
Scare quotes
Scare quotes are quotation marks placed around a word or phrase to indicate that it does not signify its literal or conventional meaning.- History :Use of the term "scare quotes" appears to have arisen at some point during the first half of the 20th century...

 is an editorialization that implies illegitimacy.

Associated Press style
AP Stylebook
The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, usually called the AP Stylebook, is a style and usage guide used by newspapers and in the news industry in the United States...

 recommends the usages marriage for gays and lesbian
Lesbian
Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

s
or in space-limited headlines gay marriage with no hyphen and no scare quotes. The Associated Press warns that the construct gay marriage can imply that marriages of gay and lesbian couples are somehow legally different from those of opposite-sex couples.

Ancient


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

In the southern Chinese province of Fujian
Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

, through the Ming dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 period, females would bind themselves in contracts to younger females in elaborate ceremonies. Males also entered similar arrangements. This type of arrangement was also similar in ancient European history.

An example of egalitarian male domestic partnership
Domestic partnership
A domestic partnership is a legal or personal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are neither joined by marriage nor a civil union...

 from the early Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 period of China is recorded in the story of Pan Zhang & Wang Zhongxian
Pan Zhang & Wang Zhongxian
The story of Pan Zhang & Wang Zhongxian comes from the state of Chu during the Zhou Dynasty of China and is first recorded in a Song Dynasty collection of tales called Anthology Of Tales From Records Of The Taiping Era ....

. While the relationship was clearly approved by the wider community, and was compared to heterosexual marriage, it did not involve a religious ceremony binding the couple.

The first historical mention of the performance of same-sex marriages occurred during the early Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. For instance, Emperor Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 is reported to have engaged in a marriage ceremony with one of his male slaves. Emperor Elagabalus
Elagabalus
Elagabalus , also known as Heliogabalus, was Roman Emperor from 218 to 222. A member of the Severan Dynasty, he was Syrian on his mother's side, the son of Julia Soaemias and Sextus Varius Marcellus. Early in his youth he served as a priest of the god El-Gabal at his hometown, Emesa...

 "married" a Carian slave named Hierocles. It should be noted, however, that conubium existed only between a civis Romanus and a civis Romana (that is, between a male Roman citizen and a female Roman citizen), so that a so-called marriage between two Roman males (or with a slave) would have no legal standing in Roman law (apart, presumably, from the arbitrary will of the emperor in the two aforementioned cases). Furthermore, "matrimonium is an institution involving a mother, mater. The idea implicit in the word is that a man takes a woman in marriage, in matrimonium ducere, so that he may have children by her." Still, the lack of legal validity notwithstanding, there is a consensus among modern historians that same-sex relationships existed in ancient Rome, but the exact frequency and nature of "same-sex unions" during that period is obscure. In 342 AD Christian emperors Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

 and Constans
Constans
Constans , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 350. He defeated his brother Constantine II in 340, but anger in the army over his personal life and preference for his barbarian bodyguards saw the general Magnentius rebel, resulting in Constans’ assassination in 350.-Career:Constans was the third and...

 issued a law in the Theodosian Code (C. Th. 9.7.3) prohibiting same-sex marriage in Rome
Homosexuality in Ancient Rome
Same-sex attitudes and behaviors in ancient Rome often differ markedly from those of the contemporary West. Latin lacks words that would precisely translate "homosexual" and "heterosexual." The primary dichotomy of ancient Roman sexuality was active/dominant/masculine and...

 and ordering execution for those so married.

A same-sex marriage between the two men Pedro Díaz and Muño Vandilaz in the Galician municipality of Rairiz de Veiga
Rairiz de Veiga
Rairiz de Veiga is a municipality in Ourense in the Galicia region of north-west Spain. It is located in the centre of the province towards the south-west....

 in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 occurred on April 16, 1061. They were married by a priest at a small chapel. The historic documents about the church wedding were found at Monastery of San Salvador de Celanova
Monastery of San Salvador de Celanova
The monastery of San Salvador de Celanova is a religious complex in Celanova, Galicia, Spain. It was founded by St. Rudesind in 936. The jewel of the complex is the small mozarabic chapel of San Miguel, dating from 942....

.

Modern


In 2001, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 became the first nation in the world to grant same-sex marriages
Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the Netherlands since 1 April 2001...

. Same-sex marriages are also granted and mutually recognized by Belgium
Same-sex marriage in Belgium
On June 1, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage, with some restrictions. Originally, Belgium allowed the marriages of foreign same-sex couples only if their country of origin also allowed these unions...

 (2003), Spain
Same-sex marriage in Spain
Same-sex marriage in Spain has been legal since July 3, 2005. In 2004, the nation's newly elected social democratic government, led by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its legalization, including the right of adoption by same-sex couples...

 (2005), Canada
Same-sex marriage in Canada
On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act which provided a gender-neutral marriage definition...

 (2005), South Africa
Same-sex marriage in South Africa
Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 30 November 2006, when the Civil Union Act, 2006 came into force, having been passed by Parliament earlier that month. A ruling by the Constitutional Court on 1 December 2005 had given Parliament one year to make same-sex marriage legal...

 (2006), Norway
Same-sex marriage in Norway
Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway on January 1, 2009 when a gender neutral marriage bill was enacted after being passed by the Norwegian legislature in June 2008...

 (2009), Sweden
Same-sex marriage in Sweden
Same-sex marriage in Sweden has been legal since 1 May 2009, following the adoption of a new, gender-neutral law on marriage by the Swedish parliament on 1 April 2009, making Sweden the seventh country in the world to open marriage to same sex couples nationwide...

 (2009), Portugal
Same-sex marriage in Portugal
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Portugal since June 5, 2010. The government of Prime Minister José Sócrates introduced a bill for legalization in December 2009; it was passed by the Assembly of the Republic in February 2010. The bill was declared legally valid by the Portuguese Constitutional...

 (2010), Iceland (2010) and Argentina (2010). In Mexico same sex marriage is recognized in all 31 states but only performed in Mexico City. In Nepal
Same-sex marriage in Nepal
On November 17, 2008, Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of laws to guarantee full rights to LGBT people, and all gender minorities must be defined as “natural persons” under the law; this included the right to marry...

, their recognition has been judicially mandated but not yet legislated. 250 million people (or 4% of the world population) live in areas that recognise same-sex marriage.

Current status


Legal recognition


Same-sex marriage is legally recognized nationwide in Argentina, Belgium
Same-sex marriage in Belgium
On June 1, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriage, with some restrictions. Originally, Belgium allowed the marriages of foreign same-sex couples only if their country of origin also allowed these unions...

, Canada
Same-sex marriage in Canada
On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act which provided a gender-neutral marriage definition...

, Iceland, the Netherlands
Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the Netherlands since 1 April 2001...

, Norway
Same-sex marriage in Norway
Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway on January 1, 2009 when a gender neutral marriage bill was enacted after being passed by the Norwegian legislature in June 2008...

, Portugal
Same-sex marriage in Portugal
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Portugal since June 5, 2010. The government of Prime Minister José Sócrates introduced a bill for legalization in December 2009; it was passed by the Assembly of the Republic in February 2010. The bill was declared legally valid by the Portuguese Constitutional...

, South Africa
Same-sex marriage in South Africa
Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 30 November 2006, when the Civil Union Act, 2006 came into force, having been passed by Parliament earlier that month. A ruling by the Constitutional Court on 1 December 2005 had given Parliament one year to make same-sex marriage legal...

, Spain
Same-sex marriage in Spain
Same-sex marriage in Spain has been legal since July 3, 2005. In 2004, the nation's newly elected social democratic government, led by President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its legalization, including the right of adoption by same-sex couples...

, and Sweden
Same-sex marriage in Sweden
Same-sex marriage in Sweden has been legal since 1 May 2009, following the adoption of a new, gender-neutral law on marriage by the Swedish parliament on 1 April 2009, making Sweden the seventh country in the world to open marriage to same sex couples nationwide...

. In the United States
Same-sex marriage in the United States
The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage in the United States, but such marriages are recognized by some individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defense of Marriage Act, before Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses...

, same-sex marriages are not recognized federally, though same-sex couples can marry in six states and one district. In Mexico
Recognition of same-sex unions in Mexico
In Mexico, only civil marriages are recognized by the law and all its proceedings fall under local state legislation. Same-sex marriages are legally performed in Mexico City and same-sex civil unions are legally performed in Mexico City and the northern state of Coahuila , whose legal residents...

, same-sex marriages are only performed in Mexico City
Same-sex marriage in Mexico City
Same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City —the Federal District of Mexico— having been approved by its Legislative Assembly on 21 December 2009, and signed into law by Head of Government Marcelo Ebrard on 29 December 2009...

, but these marriages are recognized by all Mexican states and by the Mexican federal government. Israel
Same-sex marriage in Israel
Same-sex marriage cannot legally be performed in Israel, because only government-recognized religious authorities — all of whom disallow same-sex marriage — may officiate marriages. There are no provisions for civil or secular marriages in Israel. However, foreign marriages, including same-sex...

 does not recognize same-sex marriages performed on its territory, but recognizes same-sex marriages performed in foreign jurisdictions. In Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, a same-sex couple may convert their civil union into marriage with the approval of a state judge, if approved that marriage is recognized in all the national territory.

Argentina



On July 15, 2010, the Argentine Senate approved a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. It was supported by the Government of President
President of Argentina
The President of the Argentine Nation , usually known as the President of Argentina, is the head of state of Argentina. Under the national Constitution, the President is also the chief executive of the federal government and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.Through Argentine history, the...

 Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner , commonly known as Cristina Fernández or Cristina Kirchner is the 55th and current President of Argentina and the widow of former President Néstor Kirchner. She is Argentina's first elected female president, and the second female president ever to serve...

 and opposed by the Catholic Church. Polls showed that nearly 70 percent of Argentines supported giving gay people the same marital rights as heterosexuals.

Belgium


Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriages on June 1, 2003, with the coming into force of a bill passed by the Belgian Federal Parliament
Belgian Federal Parliament
The Belgian Federal Parliament is a bicameral parliament. It consists of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate . It sits in the Palace of the Nation .- Chamber of Representatives :...

. Originally, Belgium allowed the marriages of foreign same-sex couples only if their country of origin also allowed these unions, however legislation enacted in October 2004 permits any couple to marry if at least one of the spouses has lived in the country for a minimum of three months. A 2006 law enabled legal adoption by same-sex spouses.

Canada



Legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Canada followed a series of constitutional challenges based on the equality provisions
Section Fifteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section Fifteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contains guaranteed equality rights. As part of the Constitution, the section prohibits certain forms of discrimination perpetrated by the governments of Canada with the exception of ameliorative programs and rights or privileges...

 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982...

. In the first such case, Halpern v. Canada (Attorney General)
Halpern v. Canada (Attorney General)
Halpern v. Canada, [2003] O.J. No. 2268 is a notable June 10, 2003 decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario where the Court found that the common law definition of marriage, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman, violated section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and...

, same-sex marriage ceremonies performed in Ontario
Same-sex marriage in Ontario
The first legal same-sex marriages performed in Ontario were of Kevin Bourassa to Joe Varnell, and Elaine Vautour to Anne Vautour, by Rev. Brent Hawkes on January 14, 2001....

 on January 14, 2001 were subsequently validated when the common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

, opposite-sex definition of marriage was held to be unconstitutional. Similar rulings had legalized same-sex marriage in eight provinces and one territory when the 2005 Civil Marriage Act
Civil Marriage Act
The Civil Marriage Act was legislation legalizing same-sex marriage across Canada...

defined marriage throughout Canada as "the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others."

Iceland



Same-sex marriage was introduced in Iceland through legislation establishing a gender-neutral definition of marriage introduced by the coalition government of the Social Democratic Alliance and Left-Green Movement
Left-Green Movement
The Left-Green Movement is a left-wing political party in Iceland.It was founded in 1999 by a few members of Alþingi who did not approve of the planned merger of the left parties in Iceland that resulted in the founding of the Social Democratic Alliance...

. The legislation was passed unanimously by the Icelandic Althing
Althing
The Alþingi, anglicised variously as Althing or Althingi, is the national parliament of Iceland. The Althingi is the oldest parliamentary institution in the world still extant...

 on June 11, 2010, and took effect on June 27, 2010, replacing an earlier system of registered partnerships for same-sex couples. Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Iceland
The Prime Minister of Iceland is Iceland's head of government. The prime minister is appointed formally by the President and exercises executive authority along with the cabinet subject to parliamentary support....

 Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir , , is the Prime Minister of Iceland. Many years a politician, she was previously Iceland's Minister of Social Affairs and Social Security from 1987–1994 and 2007–2009. She has been a member of the Althing for Reykjavík constituencies since 1978, winning re-election on eight...

 and her partner were among first married same-sex couples in the country.

Israel



Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's High Court of Justice ruled to honor same-sex marriages granted in other countries even though Israel does not recognize such marriages performed under its own jurisdiction. A bill was raised in the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 (parliament) to rescind the High Court's ruling, but the Knesset has not advanced the bill since December 2006.

Mexico



On December 21, 2009, Mexico City
Same-sex marriage in Mexico City
Same-sex marriage is legal in Mexico City —the Federal District of Mexico— having been approved by its Legislative Assembly on 21 December 2009, and signed into law by Head of Government Marcelo Ebrard on 29 December 2009...

's Legislative Assembly
Legislative Assembly of the Federal District
The Legislative Assembly of the Federal District is the legislative branch of government of the Mexican Federal District. Between 1988 and 1993, it was known as the Assembly of Representatives of the Federal District , during which period it had reduced powers with respect to the current...

 legalized same-sex marriages and adoption by same-sex couples. The law was enacted eight days later and became effective in early March 2010. On August 10, 2010, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that while not every state must grant same-sex marriages, they must all recognize those performed where they are legal.

The Netherlands


The Netherlands was the first country to extend marriage laws to include same-sex couples, following the recommendation of a special commission appointed to investigate the issue in 1995. A same-sex marriage bill passed the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2000, taking effect on April 1, 2001.

In the Netherlands' Caribbean special municipalities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, marriage is presently restricted to heterosexual couples, however a law enabling same-sex couples to marry has been passed and is planned to come into effect by 10 October 2012. The Caribbean countries Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
Same-sex marriage in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
Same-sex marriages are not conducted in Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten, which are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Since many of the residents of the countries are Roman Catholic, the issue of same-sex marriage is one where opposition is large...

, forming the remainder of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality...

, do not perform same-sex marriages, but must recognize those performed in the European territory of the Netherlands.

Norway


Same-sex marriage became legal in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 on January 1, 2009 when a gender neutral marriage bill was enacted after being passed by the Norwegian legislature in June 2008. Norway became the first Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n country and the sixth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

Gender neutral marriage replaced Norway's previous system of registered partnerships for same-sex couples. Couples in registered partnerships are able to retain that status or convert their registered partnership to a marriage. No new registered partnerships may be created.

Portugal



On January 8, 2010, the parliament approved, with 126 votes in favor, 97 against and 7 abstentions, same-sex marriage. The President promulgated the law on April 8, same-sex marriage become legal since June 5, 2010, thus Portugal became the eighth country to conduct nationwide same-sex marriage.

South Africa



In a 2002 landmark decision that paved the way for later legal extensions of same-sex rights, South Africa became the first country in Africa to legally permit adoptions by same-sex couples. The Court (Judge Lewis Skweyiyi) held, "Family life as contemplated in the constitution (of South Africa) can be lived in different ways. The stability, support and affection envisaged by the Child Care Act can be provided by people in permanent same-sex relationships." Same-sex marriage became legal
Same-sex marriage in South Africa
Same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 30 November 2006, when the Civil Union Act, 2006 came into force, having been passed by Parliament earlier that month. A ruling by the Constitutional Court on 1 December 2005 had given Parliament one year to make same-sex marriage legal...

 in South Africa on November 30, 2006 when the Civil Unions Bill was enacted after having been passed by the South African Parliament earlier that month. A ruling by the Constitutional Court on December 1, 2005 had imposed a deadline of December 1, 2006 to make same-sex marriage legal. South Africa became the fifth country, the first in Africa, and the second outside Europe, to legalize same-sex marriage.

Spain



Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since July 3, 2005. In 2004, the nation's newly elected Socialist
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party is a social-democratic political party in Spain. Its political position is Centre-left. The PSOE is the former ruling party of Spain, until beaten in the elections of November 2011 and the second oldest, exceeded only by the Partido Carlista, founded in...

 government, led by President
Prime Minister of Spain
The President of the Government of Spain , sometimes known in English as the Prime Minister of Spain, is the head of Government of Spain. The current office is established under the Constitution of 1978...

 José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party . He was elected for two terms as Prime Minister of Spain, in the 2004 and 2008 general elections. On 2 April 2011 he announced he will not stand for re-election in 2012...

, began a campaign for its legalization, including the right of adoption by same-sex couples. After much debate, a law permitting same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

 was passed by the Cortes Generales
Cortes Generales
The Cortes Generales is the legislature of Spain. It is a bicameral parliament, composed of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate . The Cortes has power to enact any law and to amend the constitution...

(Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

's bicameral parliament
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

, composed of the Senate
Spanish Senate
The Senate of Spain is the upper house of Spain's parliament, the . It is made up of 264 members: 208 elected by popular vote, and 56 appointed by the regional legislatures. All senators serve four-year terms, though regional legislatures may recall their appointees at any time.The last election...

 and the Congress of Deputies
Spanish Congress of Deputies
The Spanish Congress of Deputies is the lower house of the Cortes Generales, Spain's legislative branch. It has 350 members, elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation in constituencies matching the Spanish provinces using the D'Hondt method. Deputies serve four-year terms...

) on 30 June 2005 and published on 2 July 2005. Same-sex marriage became legal in Spain on Sunday, 3 July 2005, making it the third country in the world to do so, after the Netherlands and Belgium.

Sweden



Same-sex marriage in Sweden has been legal since 1 May 2009, following the adoption of a new, gender-neutral law on marriage by the Swedish parliament
Parliament of Sweden
The Riksdag is the national legislative assembly of Sweden. The riksdag is a unicameral assembly with 349 members , who are elected on a proportional basis to serve fixed terms of four years...

 on 1 April 2009, making Sweden the seventh country in the world to open marriage to same sex couples nationwide. Marriage replaced Sweden's registered partnerships for same-sex couples. Existing registered partnerships between same-sex couples remained in force with an option to convert them into marriages.

United States



In the United States, although same-sex marriages are not recognized federally
Same-sex marriage in the United States
The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage in the United States, but such marriages are recognized by some individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defense of Marriage Act, before Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses...

, same-sex couples can legally marry in six states (Connecticut
Same-sex marriage in Connecticut
Connecticut joined Massachusetts as one of two states in the U.S. to perform marriages of same-sex couples on November 12, 2008. Connecticut was the third state to do so, but only the second where the decision was not repealed.-Civil union:...

, Iowa
Same-sex marriage in Iowa
Same-sex marriage in the U.S. state of Iowa became legal on April 3, 2009.Iowa's first dealings with same-sex marriage came in 1998, after recent court cases on same-sex unions, starting in Hawaii, found that denying the right to marry to same-sex couples was incompatible with the Equal Protection...

, Massachusetts
Same-sex marriage in Massachusetts
Same-sex marriage in the U.S. state of Massachusetts began on May 17, 2004, as a result of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that it was unconstitutional under the Massachusetts constitution to allow only heterosexual couples to marry...

, New Hampshire, New York
Same-sex marriage in New York
Same-sex marriage in the U.S. state of New York became legal on July 24, 2011, under the Marriage Equality Act, which was passed on June 24, 2011, by the New York State Legislature and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on the same day...

, Vermont) and the District of Columbia and receive state-level benefits. The states of New Jersey, Maryland, and Rhode Island do not facilitate same-sex marriages, but do recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, as does California
Same-sex marriage in California
The status of same-sex marriage in California is unique among the 50 U.S. states, in that the state formerly granted marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but has discontinued doing so...

 in some cases, in particular those established when the state briefly allowed same-sex marriage in 2008. Additionally, several states offer civil unions or domestic partnerships, granting all or part of the state-level rights and responsibilities of marriage. Thirty-one states have constitutional restrictions limiting marriage to one woman and one man.

In 1996, the United States Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act
Defense of Marriage Act
The Defense of Marriage Act is a United States federal law whereby the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Under the law, no U.S. state may be required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state...

 (DOMA) defining marriage solely as a union between a couple of the opposite sex for all federal purposes and allowing for the non-recognition amongst the states.

A 2005 federal district court decision, Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning
Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning
Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, 455 F.3d 859 , was a federal lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska and decided on appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit challenging the federal constitutionality of Nebraska Initiative...

, holding that prohibiting recognition of same-sex relationships violated the Constitution was overturned on appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* Eastern District of Arkansas* Western District of Arkansas...

 in 2006, which ruled that "laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples ... do not violate the Constitution of the United States."

In 2006, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington concluded that encouraging procreation within the framework of marriage can be seen as a legitimate government interest furthered by limiting marriage between opposite-sex couples.

In 2010, United States District Court for the Northern District of California
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
The United States District Court for the Northern District of California is the federal United States district court whose jurisdiction comprises following counties of California: Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San...

 stated the evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. Proponents of excluding same-sex couples from marriage were unable to reply how permitting same-sex marriage impairs or adversely affects the assumption that the state's interest in marriage is procreative. When asked to identify the evidence at trial that supported the contention responsible procreation is really at the heart of society's interest in regulating marriage, proponents' counsel replied he did not have evidence of this point.

In July 2010, a federal court held key provisions of DOMA unconstitutional; the Department of Justice entered an appeal on October 12, 2010. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 is officially opposed to same-sex marriage, although he "supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples", a full repeal of DOMA, and called California's Proposition 8
California Proposition 8 (2008)
Proposition 8 was a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections...

 outlawing same-sex marriage in 2008 "unnecessary". In February 2011, President Obama concluded that DOMA was unconstitutional and directed the US Justice Department to stop defending the law in court. Subsequently, Eric Cantor
Eric Cantor
Eric Ivan Cantor is the U.S. Representative for Virginia's 7th congressional district, serving since 2001. A member of the Republican Party, he became House Majority Leader when the 112th Congress convened on January 3, 2011...

, Republican majority leader in the US House of Representatives announced that the House would defend DOMA; however, the law firm hired to represent the House soon withdrew from the representation, requiring the House to retain replacement counsel.

In August 2010, Proposition 8 was declared unconstitutional under the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 in a federal court case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger
Perry v. Schwarzenegger
Perry v. Schwarzenegger is a federal lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California challenging the federal constitutionality of Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that amended the California Constitution to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples,...

, but the ruling has been stayed pending appeal by a higher court; the judge found the ban unconstitutional, ruling that "Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification". Proponents of Proposition 8 appealed the District Court's ruling, and licensing of marriage ceremonies has been delayed by the 9th Circuit Court issuing a stay until the appeal process is completed; in addition, the 9th Circuit also assured a speedy trial.

Australia



Australia bans recognition of same-sex marriages. The ban is somewhat supported by the Catholic Church and the two largest political parties. The current Gillard
Julia Gillard
Julia Eileen Gillard is the 27th and current Prime Minister of Australia, in office since June 2010.Gillard was born in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales and migrated with her family to Adelaide, Australia in 1966, attending Mitcham Demonstration School and Unley High School. In 1982 Gillard moved...

 federal Labor Party
Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party is an Australian political party. It has been the governing party of the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Julia Gillard is the party's federal parliamentary leader and Prime Minister of Australia...

 government is reluctant to progress toward same sex marriage asserting that marriage remains the preserve of heterosexual couples only. In February 2010, the Greens
Australian Greens
The Australian Greens, commonly known as The Greens, is an Australian green political party.The party was formed in 1992; however, its origins can be traced to the early environmental movement in Australia and the formation of the United Tasmania Group , the first Green party in the world, which...

 Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
Sarah Hanson-Young
Sarah Coral Hanson-Young is an Australian politician. She has been a Greens member of the Australian Senate since July 2008, representing the state of South Australia. she is the youngest person ever elected to the Australian Senate....

's Marriage Equality Bill was rejected by the Senate. Senator Hanson-Young re-introduced the bill to the Senate in September 2010. The bill will sit on a notice paper until the major parties agree to a conscience vote on it. A Greens motion urging federal MPs to gauge community support for gay marriage was passed by the House of Representatives on 18 November 2010.

The Australian Capital Territory is the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise civil partnerships ceremonies
Recognition of same-sex unions in the Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory was the first jurisdiction in Australia to legally recognise same-sex couples in 1994. It was the second to allow joint adoption petitions by same-sex couples in 2003, following Western Australia...

 for gay couples. However, they are not recognised in Australian jurisdictions outside of that territory. Registered partnerships are available in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, Tasmania
Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...

 and Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

. From 1 July 2009 Centrelink recognised same-sex couples equally regarding social security – under the common-law marriage, de facto status or unregistered cohabitation.
There is a bill before the Tasmanian Legislative Council to recognise same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

Colombia



On Tuesday July 26 2011, The Constitutional Court of Colombia ordered the Colombian Congress to legislate on the matter of same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

 and that if they fail to, same-sex couples will be granted all marriage rights in two years (on June 20th 2013) automatically.

Europe


The current government of Luxembourg intends to legalize same-sex marriage.
As of June, 2011, Germany will face a vote on same-sex marriage. The issue was opened by the senate of the city-state of Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, and will be voted on in the Federal Bundesrat.

In France in 2006, a 30-member non-quorum
Quorum
A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group...

 parliamentary commission of the French National Assembly
French National Assembly
The French National Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic. The upper house is the Senate ....

 published a 453-page Report on the Family and the Rights of Children, which rejected same-sex marriages
Same-sex marriage in France
Same-sex marriage cannot legally be performed in France, though some foreign same-sex marriages are recognized and the PACS, which confers some of the same rights and responsibilities as marriage, is available to same-sex couples....

. Also, the French National Assembly voted against same-sex marriage
Bill of Patrick Bloche about same-sex marriage
The 2011 Bill of Patrick Bloche about same-sex marriage is the first bill on same-sex marriage that was presented to parliament in France. It follows the decision of the Constitutional Council to let the legislature decide on this issue...

 on June 15, 2011. Finland may legalize same-sex marriage after the 2011 parliamentary elections
Finnish parliamentary election, 2011
An election to the Eduskunta was held on 17 April 2011 after the termination of the previous parliamentary term. Advance voting, which included voting by Finnish expatriates, was held between 6 and 12 April with a turnout of 31.2%....

; then-Minister of Justice
Minister of Justice (Finland)
-List of Ministers of Justice:...

 Tuija Brax
Tuija Brax
Tuija Kaarina Brax is a Finnish politician and former Minister of Justice. She is a Member of Finnish Parliament, representing the Green League. She was first elected to the Parliament in 1995...

 said her Ministry was preparing a reform to amend the Marriage Act towards gay marriage by 2012. The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 will introduce Same-Sex Civil Marriage by 2015.

Nepal


In November 2008, Nepal's
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 highest court issued final judgment on matters related to LGBT rights, which included approving gay marriage. Based on the court recommendation the government announced its intention to introduce a same-sex marriage bill by 2010. Same-sex marriage and protection for sexual minorities will be included in the new Nepalese constitution currently being drafted and due to be completed by May 31, 2012.

New Zealand


New Zealand's Marriage Act 1955 recognizes marriage rights only for opposite-sex couples. New Zealand's Parliament rejected a bill that would have prohibited the recognition of same-sex marriage in New Zealand
Same-sex marriage in New Zealand
New Zealand does not currently allow same-sex marriages, but allows civil unions that provide virtually all the rights and responsibilities of marriage...

 in December 2005. The 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
High Court of New Zealand
The High Court of New Zealand is a superior court of New Zealand. It was established in 1841 and known as the Supreme Court of New Zealand until 1980....

 decisions in 1995.

Nigeria


In 2006, Nigerian
Same-sex marriage in Nigeria
Nigeria recognizes neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions for same-sex couples. Homosexuality can land men up to 14 years in prison in Southern Nigeria and capital punishment for men in areas under Sharia Islamic Law...

 President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced legislation that prohibits same-sex marriages and criminalizes anyone who "performs, witnesses, aids or abets" such ceremonies. Among the Igbo people
Igbo people
Igbo people, also referred to as the Ibo, Ebo, Eboans or Heebo are an ethnic group living chiefly in southeastern Nigeria. They speak Igbo, which includes various Igboid languages and dialects; today, a majority of them speak English alongside Igbo as a result of British colonialism...

 of Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, there are circumstances where a marriage between two women is allowed, such as when a woman has no child and the husband dies.

International organizations


The terms of employment of the staff of international organizations (not commercial
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

) in most cases are not governed by the laws of the country where their offices are located. Agreements with the host country safeguard these organizations' impartiality.

Despite their relative independence, few organizations recognize same-sex partnerships without condition. The agencies of the United Nations recognize same-sex marriages if and 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
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 does recognize domestic partners.

Other legally recognized same-sex unions


Civil unions, civil partnerships, domestic partnership
Domestic partnership
A domestic partnership is a legal or personal relationship between two individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are neither joined by marriage nor a civil union...

s, registered partnerships, or unregistered partnership/unregistered co-habitation legal status offer varying portions of the legal benefits of marriage and are available to same-sex couples in: Andorra
Andorra
Andorra , officially the Principality of Andorra , also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, , is a small landlocked country in southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe having an area of...

, Australia, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, New Zealand, Slovenia
Slovenia
Slovenia , officially the Republic of Slovenia , is a country in Central and Southeastern Europe touching the Alps and bordering the Mediterranean. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north, and also has a small portion of...

, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

. They are also available in parts of Mexico (Coahuila
Coahuila
Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza , officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Coahuila de Zaragoza is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico...

 and the Federal District) and the United States (California, Hawai'i, Illinois, Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, New York, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, Washington and the federal District of Columbia).

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

Transgender and intersex persons


When sex is defined legally, it may be defined by any one of several criteria: the XY sex-determination system
XY sex-determination system
The XY sex-determination system is the sex-determination system found in humans, most other mammals, some insects and some plants . In this system, females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome , and are called the homogametic sex. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes , and are called...

, the type of gonad
Gonad
The gonad is the organ that makes gametes. The gonads in males are the testes and the gonads in females are the ovaries. The product, gametes, are haploid germ cells. For example, spermatozoon and egg cells are gametes...

s, the type of external sexual features, or the person's social identification. Consequently, both transsexuals and intersex
Intersex
Intersex, in humans and other animals, is the presence of intermediate or atypical combinations of physical features that usually distinguish female from male...

ed 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 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. Estimates run as high as 1 percent of live birth
Childbirth
Childbirth is the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the birth of one or more newborn infants from a woman's uterus...

s exhibiting some degree of sexual ambiguity, and between 0.1% and 0.2% of live births being ambiguous enough to become the subject of specialist medical attention, including sometimes involuntary surgery
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

 to address their sexual ambiguity.

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 recognize a legal and official change of gender, which would allow a transsexual to be legally married in accordance with an adopted gender identity.

In the United Kingdom, the Gender Recognition Act 2004
Gender Recognition Act 2004
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that allows transsexual people to change their legal gender. It came into effect on 4 April 2005.-Operation of the law:...

 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 Austria, a similar provision requiring transsexual persons to divorce before having their legal sex marker corrected was found to be unconstitutional in 2006.

In Quebec prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, only unmarried persons could apply for legal change of gender. With the advent of same-sex marriage, this restriction was dropped.

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.

Controversy


While few societies have recognized same-sex unions as marriages, the historical and anthropological record
History of same-sex unions
Although state-recognized same-sex unions are becoming more accepted, there is a long history of same-sex unions around the world. Various types of same-sex unions have existed, ranging from informal, unsanctioned, and temporary relationships to highly ritualized unions that have included...

 reveals a large range of attitudes towards same-sex unions ranging from praise, to sympathetic toleration, to indifference, to prohibition. Opponents of same-sex marriages have argued that recognition of same-sex marriages would erode religious freedoms, and that same-sex marriage, while doing good for the couples that participate in them and the children they are raising, undermines a right of children to be raised by their biological mother and father.

Some supporters of same-sex marriages take the view that the government should have no role in regulating personal relationships, while others argue that same-sex marriages would provide social benefits to same-sex couples.

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

Judicial and legislative



There are differing positions regarding the manner in which same-sex marriage has been introduced into democratic jurisdictions. A "majority rules
Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Direct democracy is classically termed "pure democracy"...

" position holds that same-sex marriage is valid, or void and illegal, based upon whether it has been accepted by a simple majority of voters or of their elected representatives. In contrast, a "civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

" view holds that the institution can be validly created through the ruling of an impartial judiciary carefully examining the questioning and finding that the right to marry regardless of the gender of the participants is guaranteed under the civil rights laws of the jurisdiction.

Religion


Arguments on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate are still often made on religious grounds and/or formulated in terms of religious doctrine. One source of controversy is how same-sex marriage affects freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

. Some religious organizations (citing their religious beliefs) refuse to provide employment, public accommodations, adoption services and other benefits to same-sex couples. Some governments have made special provisions for religious protections within the texts of same-sex marriage laws.

Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

, then head of the Roman Catholic church, criticized same-sex marriage when it was introduced in the Netherlands in 2001. His successor Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 has maintained opposition to the institution, considering it amongst "the most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good today".

Some Christian groups have been vocal and politically active in opposing same-sex marriage legalization in the United States. Roman Catholic advocates of monogamous heterosexual marriages contend that same-sex relationships cannot be considered marriages because marriage, by definition, necessarily involves the uniting of two members of the opposite sex. Other religious arguments for an opposite-sex definition of marriage hold that same-sex relationships should not be recognized as marriages because same-gender sexual activity is contrary to God's will, is immoral, and subverts God's creative intent for human sexuality. Christian opposition to same-sex marriage also comes from the belief that same-sex marriage normalizes homosexual behavior and would encourage it, instead of encouraging resistance to same-sex attraction
Same-sex attraction
Same-sex attraction is a term occasionally used instead of the more common term homosexuality to refer to a person's feelings of sexual attraction toward members of the same gender identity....

.

Some Abrahamic religious arguments against same-sex marriage are based upon Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 passages that discuss the fate of Sodom
Sodom
- Places :* Sodom and Gomorrah, infamous Biblical cities* Sodom, Ontario, Canada* Mount Sodom or Mount Sedom, Israel* Mount Sudum and valley near Lund Khwar, Pakistan Lund Khwar#Holy war against the Sikh* Winschoten or Sodom, Netherlands...

 , command that one "not lie with mankind, as with womankind" , and state that those that do "shall surely be put to death", while others are based upon New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 passages on topics of people going against "natural use" in their lust , the "unrighteous" , and the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

 . Christian groups that have been vocal and or active in their opposition to same-sex marriages include the Assemblies of God
Assemblies of God
The Assemblies of God , officially the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, is a group of over 140 autonomous but loosely-associated national groupings of churches which together form the world's largest Pentecostal denomination...

, Church of God in Christ
Church of God in Christ
The Church of God in Christ is a Pentecostal Holiness Christian denomination with a predominantly African-American membership. With nearly five million members in the United States and 12,000 congregations, it is the largest Pentecostal church and the fifth largest Christian church in the U.S....

, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons), the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
The Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, colloquially known as the CCCC or 4C's, is a Protestant Christian denomination operating in the United States. The denomination maintains headquarters in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul...

, the Conservative Mennonite Conference
Conservative Mennonite Conference
The Conservative Mennonite Conference is a Christian body of conservative evangelical Mennonite churches.-Background:The first American settlement of the Amish Mennonites — who separated from the main body of Swiss Brethren and followed Jacob Amman — was in Berks County, Pennsylvania, around...

, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America
Convocation of Anglicans in North America
The Convocation of Anglicans in North America is an Anglican body in the United States primarily comprising Anglican and Episcopal churches that have disaffiliated from the Episcopal Church in the United States of America . CANA was initially a missionary initiative of the Anglican Church of Nigeria...

, the Hutterite Brethren
Hutterite
Hutterites are a communal branch of Anabaptists who, like the Amish and Mennonites, trace their roots to the Radical Reformation of the 16th century. Since the death of their founder Jakob Hutter in 1536, the beliefs of the Hutterites, especially living in a community of goods and absolute...

, the Orthodox Church in America
Orthodox Church in America
The Orthodox Church in America is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church in North America. Its primate is Metropolitan Jonah , who was elected on November 12, 2008, and was formally installed on December 28, 2008...

, the Brethren in Christ, the Mennonite Church USA
Mennonite Church USA
The Mennonite Church USA, or MCUSA, is an Anabaptist Christian denomination in the United States. Although the organization is a recent 2002 merger of the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church, the body has roots in the Radical Reformation of the 16th century...

, the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, the Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

, the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), and the United Pentecostal Church International
United Pentecostal Church International
The United Pentecostal Church International is a Pentecostal Christian denomination, headquartered in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Missouri. It is a part of the Oneness or "Apostolic" portion of the Pentecostal Movement, and was formed in 1945 by a merger of the former Pentecostal Church,...

. In 2009, a group of Christian leaders from various denominations issued the Manhattan Declaration
Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience
The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience is a manifesto issued by Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christian leaders to affirm support of "the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty". It was drafted on October 20, 2009 and released November 20, 2009,...

, an "influential statement that united evangelicals and Catholic leaders in fighting abortion and gay marriage"; as of November 2010, the Declaration had been signed by over 475,000 individuals.

Christian supporters of same-sex marriage have stated that marriage rights for same-sex couples strengthens the institution of marriage and provides legal protection for children of gay and lesbian parents. Bible-based arguments for same-sex marriage rights include that the word "homosexual", as found in modern versions of the Bible, is an inaccurate translation of the original texts. The word "Homosexual" as used in modern translations of the Holy Bible may be a transliteration and not a direct translation of the original text; Neither Vine's Expository Dictionary nor Strong's Concordance
Strong's Concordance
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, generally known as Strong's Concordance, is a concordance of the King James Bible that was constructed under the direction of Dr. James Strong and first published in 1890. Dr. Strong was Professor of exegetical theology at Drew Theological Seminary at...

 (two significant bible reference works) contain the word "homosexual,". There is no direct biblical prohibition of marriage rights for same-sex couples. The Christian Bible does not define the institution of marriage. Biblical texts used by non-affirming Christian organizations to condemn homosexuality, and by extension same-sex marriage, may refer only to specific sex acts and idolatrous worship lacking any relevance to contemporary same-sex relationships. Supporting marriage rights for gays and lesbians is viewed by many affirming Christians as a Christ-like commitment to the equality and dignity of all persons. The United Church of Canada
United Church of Canada
The United Church of Canada is a Protestant Christian denomination in Canada. It is the largest Protestant church and, after the Roman Catholic Church, the second-largest Christian church in Canada...

 asserts that "human sexual orientations, whether heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual, are a gift from God", whilst the Yearly Meeting
Yearly Meeting
Yearly Meeting is a term used by members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, to refer to an organization composed of a collection of smaller, more frequent constituent meetings within a geographical area. These constituent meetings go by various names such as Quarterly Meetings, which...

 of Quakers in the United Kingdom decided to offer same-sex marriages, though national law permits only civil partnerships.

On July 4, 2005 the United Church of Christ
United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ is a mainline Protestant Christian denomination primarily in the Reformed tradition but also historically influenced by Lutheranism. The Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches united in 1957 to form the UCC...

 (UCC), at their 25th General Synod, voted to support full legal and religious marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples making it the first mainline Christian denomination in the United States to support and promote same sex marriage equality. The UCC is a liberal Christian denomination with a long history of supporting gay rights, women's rights, African-American civil rights and other issues of social justice.

Unitarian Universalism
Unitarian Universalism
Unitarian Universalism is a religion characterized by support for a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning". Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed; rather, they are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth and by the understanding that an individual's theology is a...

, a liberal faith tradition, supports same-sex marriage. It has taken an active role advocating for LGBT rights and same-sex marriages are often performed in UU congregations.

In addition to the churches that have already included gays and lesbians in their marriage tradition, others including the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Church of Scotland are discussing the issue among their members.

Judaism, like Christianity, contains varying views on the issue of marriage rights, both politically and religiously, for same-sex couples. Some Orthodox Jews
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 maintain the traditional Jewish bans on both sexual acts and marriages amongst members of the same sex, but other orthodox rabbis, such as Steven Greenberg
Steven Greenberg (rabbi)
Steven Greenberg is an American rabbi. He is generally described as the first openly gay Orthodox Jewish rabbi. His being an Orthodox rabbi is disputed by some Orthodox Jews since he publicly disclosed he was gay in an article in the Israeli newspaper Maariv in 1999 and participated in the 2001...

, disagree. Some Conservative Jews
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 reject recognition of same-sex unions as marriages, but permit celebration of commitment ceremonies, while others recognize same-sex marriage. The Union for Reform Judaism
Union for Reform Judaism
The Union for Reform Judaism , formerly known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations , is an organization which supports Reform Jewish congregations in North America. The current President is Rabbi Eric H...

 (formerly known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) supports the inclusion of same-sex unions within the definition of marriage. The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Reconstructionist Judaism
Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement based on the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan . The movement views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization. It originated as a branch of Conservative Judaism, before it splintered...

 leaves the choice to individual rabbis.

From the Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic perspective, a majority of Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 legal scholars cite the rulings of the prophet Muhammad and the story of Lot in Sodom as condemnation of homosexuality. Given that Islam views marriage as an exchange between two parties where the man offers protection and security in return for exclusive sexual and reproductive rights to the woman, same-sex marriages cannot be considered legal within the constraints of a Muslim marriage.

Buddhist scripture and teachings do not take a consistent stance against homosexuality, and do not specifically proscribe nor endorse same-sex marriage; thus, there is no unified stance for or against the practice.

Some Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

n communities are supportive of same-sex marriages, but as Wicca is a non-dogmatic and non-monolithic religious movement, there is no unity of opinion or official position on the subject.

Children and the family



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. Scientific research has been consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents. According to scientific literature reviews, there is no evidence to the contrary.

Maggie Gallagher
Maggie Gallagher
Margaret Gallagher Srivastav , better known by her working name Maggie Gallagher, is an American writer, commentator, and opponent of same-sex marriage. She has written a syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate since 1995, and has published five books...

 and Margaret Somerville
Margaret Somerville
Margaret Anne Ganley Somerville, AM, FRSC is a conservative Australian/Canadian ethicist and academic. She is the Samuel Gale Professor of Law, Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and the Founding Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill...

 argue that a child has a right to be raised by a father and a mother, and that legalizing same-sex marriage undermines that right.

Education controversy


The subject of how the legalization of same-sex marriage affects public education is a source of controversy. An argument sometimes used by supporters is that teaching about same-sex marriage in schools will help children to be more open minded by exposing them to different types of families. There is concern from opponents of same-sex marriage that it will undermine parental rights over their children's education.

Same-sex marriage opponents express concern that the information being presented in schools might not be accurate, might omit medical, psychological and legal impacts of homosexuality, and might be age-inappropriate. There has also been concern that educators who disagree with same-sex marriage curricula could be punished.

Effects of same-sex marriage


The American Psychological Association
American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association is the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States. It is the world's largest association of psychologists with around 154,000 members including scientists, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. The APA...

 stated in 2004:

The institution of civil marriage confers a social status and important legal benefits, rights, and privileges. ... Same-sex couples are denied equal access to civil marriage. ... Same-sex couples who enter into a civil union are denied equal access to all the benefits, rights, and privileges provided by federal law to married couples ... The benefits, rights, and privileges associated with domestic partnerships are not universally available, are not equal to those associated with marriage, and are rarely portable ... Denial of access to marriage to same-sex couples may especially harm people who also experience discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, disability, gender and gender identity, religion, and socioeconomic status ... the APA believes that it is unfair and discriminatory to deny same-sex couples legal access to civil marriage and to all its attendant benefits, rights, and privileges.


The American Sociological Association
American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association , founded in 1905 as the American Sociological Society , is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the discipline and profession of sociology by serving sociologists in their work and promoting their contributions to serve society.The ASA holds its...

 stated in 2004:

... a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman intentionally discriminates against lesbians and gay men as well as their children and other dependents by denying access to the protections, benefits, and responsibilities extended automatically to married couples ... we believe that the official justification for the proposed constitutional amendment is based on prejudice rather than empirical research ... the American Sociological Association strongly opposes the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.


The Canadian Psychological Association
Canadian Psychological Association
The Canadian Psychological Association is the primary organization representing psychologists throughout Canada. It was organized in 1939 and incorporated under the Canada Corporations Act, Part II, in May 1950.Its objectives are:...

 stated in 2006:
The literature (including the literature on which opponents to marriage of same-sex couples appear to rely) 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. As the CPA stated in 2003, the stressors encountered by gay and lesbian parents and their children are more likely the result of the way society treats them than because of any deficiencies in fitness to parent. The CPA recognizes and appreciates that persons and institutions are entitled to their opinions and positions on this issue. However, CPA is concerned that some 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. CPA asserts that children stand to benefit from the well-being that results when their parents' relationship is recognized and supported by society's institutions.


The American Anthropological Association
American Anthropological Association
The American Anthropological Association is a professional organization of scholars and practitioners in the field of anthropology. With 11,000 members, the Arlington, Virginia based association includes archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, biological anthropologists, linguistic...

 stated in 2005:

The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.


The United Kingdom's Royal College of Psychiatrists
Royal College of Psychiatrists
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is the main professional organisation of psychiatrists in the United Kingdom responsible for representing psychiatrists, psychiatric research and providing public information about mental health problems...

 has stated the following. The statement uses the term "civil partnership" and not gay marriage.

... lesbian, gay and bisexual people are and should be regarded as valued members of society who have exactly similar [sic] rights and responsibilities as all other citizens. This includes ... the rights and responsibilities involved in a civil partnership ...

Health issues


Recently, several psychological studies 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.

In 2010, a Mailman School of Public Health study examining the effects of institutional discrimination on the psychiatric health of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals found an increase in psychiatric disorders, including a more than doubling of anxiety disorders, among the LGB population living in states that instituted bans on same-sex marriage. According to the author the study highlighted the importance of abolishing institutional forms of discrimination, including those leading to disparities in the mental health and well-being of LGB individuals. Institutional discrimination is characterized by societal-level conditions that limit the opportunities and access to resources by socially disadvantaged groups.

Gay activist Jonathan Rauch
Jonathan Rauch
Jonathan Charles Rauch is an American author, journalist and activist. After graduating from Yale University, Rauch worked at the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina, for the National Journal magazine, and later for The Economist magazine and as a freelance writer.Currently a senior writer and...

 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. The data of current psychological and other social science studies on same-sex marriage in comparison to opposite-sex marriage 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. 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.

In 2009, a pair of economists at Emory University
Emory University
Emory University is a private research university in metropolitan Atlanta, located in the Druid Hills section of unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, United States. The university was founded as Emory College in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia by a small group of Methodists and was named in honor of...

 tied the passage of state bans on same-sex marriage in the US to an increase in the rates of HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 infection. The study linked the passage of same-sex marriage ban in a state to an increase in the annual HIV rate within that state of roughly 4 cases per 100,000 population.

Fictional same-sex marriage



Same-sex marriages and relationships have been a theme in several fictional story arcs, mythology, cult classics, and video games. In the video games Fable II and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action role-playing video game series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion...

 same-sex marriage is possible.

There has been some debate as to whether same-sex marriage is legal in the Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

 universe, as there is very little mention of homosexuality in Star Trek, but during The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller served as executive producers at different times throughout the production...

 and the Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. Set in the 24th century from the year 2371 through 2378, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet vessel USS Voyager, which becomes stranded in the Delta Quadrant 70,000 light-years from Earth while...

 series, rumors often circulated around the topic. The independent fan series Star Trek: Hidden Frontier
Star Trek: Hidden Frontier
Star Trek: Hidden Frontier was a Star Trek fan film project. Produced on digital video, the show's sets are almost completely virtual, using a green-screen chroma keyed process to place performers into virtual settings....

 actually had a same-sex marriage ceremony in the series finale, but this is completely non-canon.

Caprica
Caprica (TV series)
Caprica is a science fiction drama television series. It is a spin-off prequel of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, taking place about 58 years prior to the events of Battlestar Galactica. Caprica shows how humanity first created the robotic Cylons who would later plot to destroy humans in...

, a spin-off series within the Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series)
Battlestar Galactica is an American military science fiction television series, and part of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The show was developed by Ronald D. Moore as a re-imagining of the 1978 Battlestar Galactica television series created by Glen A. Larson...

 saga and primary setting of the series is fairly liberal in regards to homosexual relationships and polygamy. Sam Adama, a prominent character in the series is married to another man. Clarice Willow, another major character has several wives, as well as husbands, in her polygamous marriage.

See also


  • Adoption by same-sex couples
    Adoption by same-sex couples
    LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child , and adoption by a single LGBT person.Adoption by same-sex...

  • Divorce of same-sex couples
  • Family law
    Family law
    Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related issues and domestic relations including:*the nature of marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships;...

  • Homosexuality
    Homosexuality
    Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

  • LGBT rights in Europe
    LGBT rights in Europe
    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender rights are widely diverse in Europe per country. Seven out of the ten countries that have legalised same-sex marriage are situated in Europe; a further fourteen European countries have legalised civil unions or other forms of recognition for same-sex couples...



  • Marriage rights and obligations
  • Marriage, unions and partnerships by country
  • Same-sex marriage and the family
    Same-sex marriage and the family
    Concerns regarding same-sex marriage and the family are at the forefront of the controversies over legalization of same-sex marriage. In the United States, an estimated 1 million to 9 million children have at least one lesbian or gay parent...

  • Status of same-sex marriage
    Status of same-sex marriage
    The status of same-sex marriage changes frequently as legislation and legal action takes place around the world. Summarized in this article are the current trends and consensus of political authorities and religions throughout the world.-Civil recognition:...

  • Timeline of same-sex marriage
    Timeline of same-sex marriage
    This page contains a timeline of significant events regarding same-sex marriage and legal recognition of same-sex couples worldwide in modern history, followed by a timeline of notable same-sex marriages and unions. Also, events concerning same-sex marriages are listed in bold.-2011:* October 25: ...



Religion

  • Blessing of same-sex unions in Christian churches
    Blessing of same-sex unions in Christian churches
    The blessing of same-sex unions is currently an issue about which some Christian churches are at present in disagreement with other Christian churches...

  • Religion and sexuality
    Religion and sexuality
    Most world religions have sought to address the moral issues that arise from people's sexuality in society and in human interactions. Each major religion has developed moral codes covering issues of sexuality, morality, ethics etc...

  • Religious views on same-sex marriage
  • Same-sex marriage and Judaism
    Same-sex marriage and Judaism
    Homosexuality and same-sex marriage in Judaism have been subjects of contention within modern Jewish denominations, leading to debate and division. The prevalent view among Jews had been to regard homosexual intercourse as sinful, arguing that it is categorically forbidden by the Torah...


U.S. specific

  • Defense of Marriage Act
    Defense of Marriage Act
    The Defense of Marriage Act is a United States federal law whereby the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Under the law, no U.S. state may be required to recognize as a marriage a same-sex relationship considered a marriage in another state...

  • LGBT rights in the United States
  • Marriage gap
    Marriage gap
    The marriage gap describes observed economic and political disparities between those who are married and those who are single. The marriage gap can be compared to, and should not be confused with, the gender gap.-Politics and marriage:...

     (U.S. centric)
  • Opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States
    Opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States
    Opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States include organizations and individuals who seek to prevent or reverse the legalization of same-sex marriage...

  • Supporters of same-sex marriage in the United States
  • Same-sex controversy in the U.S. Census 2000
  • Uniting American Families Act
    Uniting American Families Act
    The Uniting American Families Act is a U.S. bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws by permitting permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner...


Documentaries and literature

  • A Union in Wait
    A Union In Wait
    A Union in Wait is the name of a 2001 documentary film about same-sex marriage, directed by Ryan Butler. A Union In Wait was the first documentary about same-sex marriage to air on national television in the United States.-Location:...

  • Freedom to Marry
    Freedom to Marry
    Freedom to Marry is a non-profit organization leading the campaign for same-sex marriages to be recognized nationwide in the United States of America...

  • Marriage Under Fire
    Marriage Under Fire
    Marriage Under Fire is a 2004 Evangelical Christian book by James Dobson about the same-sex marriage movement from an opponent's point of view. It talks the about the history of the movement, gives arguments against its influence, advocates the Federal Marriage Amendment, and exhorts opponents to...

  • Pursuit of Equality
    Pursuit of Equality
    Pursuit of Equality is a 2005 documentary directed by Geoff Callan and Mike Shaw, about the struggle of same-sex couples for marriage equality in the United States. Its focus is mostly on the same-sex marriages performed in San Francisco from February 12 to March 11, 2004.A major fundraising event...

  • Marriage Equality USA
  • The Gay Marriage Thing
    The Gay Marriage Thing
    The Gay Marriage Thing is a 2005 documentary film directed by Stephanie Higgins, who is a product of the Emerson College film school graduate program. The film follows the heated debate over same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004 through the perspective of a lesbian couple who wishes to...

  • MTV's True Life: I'm Gay and I'm Getting Married
    I'm Gay and I'm Getting Married
    "I'm Gay and I'm Getting Married" is the first episode from the fifth season of the MTV series True Life features two gay couples as they apply for marriage licenses and get married in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It originally aired on June 24, 2004...


External links