Same sex marriage is currently legal in approximately 12 countries. In addition, same sex marriage is legally recognized in five states and in the District of Columbia. The reason the numbers remain approximate is because of the frequent change in legality. For example, same sex marriage was legal briefly in California, and then the law was overturned making same sex marriage illegal. While same sex couples can enter into a domestic partnership in California, they can not longer enter into a same sex marriage.
Also, within six months, Maine legalized and prohibited same sex marriage rights. In addition, there are recent legalization's of same sex marriage, such as Mexico. Mexico, a predominately Catholic country, recently legalized same sex marriage and has conferred all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage onto those relationships. Same sex marriage has been around since recorded history.
In fact, there are many instances of recognized same sex marriages among royalty throughout history. However, the battle for legal recognition for same sex marriage is more of a recent phenomenon. In fact, the first instances of same sex couples attempting to get marriage licenses in the United States, are said to have taken place in the 1960's. However, the couples were denied the right to marry. In addition, same sex couples were only recently allowed any form of legal recognition of their relationship, including civil unions and domestic partnerships.
Same sex marriages are seen throughout history. In fact, ancient history offers examples of widely accepted gay marriages. There are even examples of emperors and royalty taking part in same sex marriages. In fact, ceremonies were often open to the public. While royalty often married slaves, there seemed to be little social opposition to the practice of same sex marriage. While same sex marriages were widely seen throughout history, there has been very recent opposition to gay marriage rights in recent history.
In the early sixties, many members of the LGBT community, attempted to get marriage license and all were denied. The first legal same sex marriage in the United States, did not place until 2004. While many same sex couples in the United States had requested marriage licenses, all were denied until February 2004. Before that time, same sex couples were sometimes able to enter into legal domestic partnerships or same sex unions. However, none were able to legally get married in the United States. Recently, same sex marriage has become legalized in more states and countries worldwide.
Gay marriage is currently legal in several countries, in five US states and the District of Columbia in the United States. While Mexico recently legalized gay marriage, the Netherlands was the first to legally recognize gay marriage. However, the prevalence of legal, same sex marriage changes frequently as laws are often repealed by both supporters, and those in opposition of gay marriage. For instance, the District of Columbia stared to legally recognize gay marriage just this month. In addition, gay marriage became legal in Mexico this month.
In some cases, those in opposition of gay marriage, will challenge the legality of gay marriage in those places. In addition, the laws will sometimes be overturned. For example, California legally recognized gay marriage at one time. However, the law was quickly repealed, making gay marriages illegal. In that case, weddings that had already taken place were allowed to be recognized.
However, in some cases, same sex weddings are declared null and void, once gay marriages are prohibited. There is currently legislation on same sex marriage pending worldwide. The outcome of that legislation will depend greatly on public opinion. In addition, pending legal challenges, such as the challenge to proposition 8, will determine the legality of amendments that have already been passed.
The debate about same sex marriage has many arguments included within. Both sides include arguments regarding the morality of same sex relationships. There are many people that oppose gay marriage. In fact, gay marriage is only currently legal in less than 1/5 of states nationwide. There are staunch religious arguments against gay marriage. First, churches claim that a legalization of gay marriage would endanger the sanctity of marriage. In addition, many religious leaders claim that same sex marriage goes against the wishes of God.
For instance, they claim that the purpose of marriage is to procreate and raise a family. The political controversy associated with gay marriage has far reaching effects. Politicians that are anti gay marriage in conservative states, are likely to have the support of their constituents. However, politicians in liberal states are likely to be pressured to allow at least some form of legal recognition for same sex couples. In fact, California's politicians have always been pressured to provide equal rights for the LGBT community. However, those that are strongly against gay marriage, are also against gay adoption.
In fact, many people are against gay marriage, in order to prevent gay couples from adopting children. Those opponents of gay adoption, clam that children of gay parents suffer ill effects by being raised by a gay couple. For example, many people claim that children need a male and a female role model in order to be able to enter into society in an effective manner. In addition, opponents of gay marriage claim that children of gay parents, are more likely to be gay themselves.
The effects of a ban on gay marriage and gay adoption, can be devastating to the LGBT community. The LGBT community begins to feel like second rate citizens because they are not allowed access to equal rights. In fact, the opposition can take an emotional and psychological toll on same sex couples. In addition, transgender and transsexual individuals are generally offered no legal protection against discrimination of any kind. In essence, that means that they can be denied jobs and housing, and they have no legal recourse. While some states do provide for laws on discrimination based on sexual orientation, many do not.
Even fewer states offer legal recourse for discrimination based on gender identity. However, the Matthew Shepard Act was recently enacted to provide for legal recourse against individuals that perpetrate hate crimes. Unfortunately, there is no legal recourse against states that forbid the recognition of same sex relationships or prohibit gay adoption. While prohibition is an obvious discriminatory action, states are allowed to decide on gay marriage laws and gay adoption laws on an individual basis.
Possible Effects of Same-Sex Marriage:
There are many effects on the LGBT community and society as a whole, when same sex marriage rights are legalized or prohibited. In fact, same sex marriage has many positive effects in social and political arenas. For example, same sex marriage has brought much needed attention to gay rights.
In fact, the gay marriage debate has encouraged states to pass laws protecting the rights of the LGBT community. Also, some members of the LGBT community have been granted access to shared health benefits. Health benefits have a direct effect on the community as a whole, because couples are able to have access to preventative health care, which in the end, saves tax payer money.
In addition, same sex marriages afford couples the opportunity to start a family by adopting a child or utilizing the services of a surrogate mother.In fact, same sex couples have provided many wonderful homes by adopting or providing foster care for children across the country. There have been many studies done on the effects of same sex marriage on society as a whole.
However, the most controversial studies are the ones that show the detrimental effects of a ban on gay marriage. For example, an Emory University study found that states that had legalized gay marriage, experienced a decrease of HIV infection in members of the LGBT community.
In fact, an increased rate of acceptance for same sex marriage, is correlated with a decrease in sexually transmitted diseases among members of the LGBT community. Like Heterosexual individuals, gay individuals are more likely to be monogamous when they are in a legally recognized marriage. In turn, they are less likely to be exposed to diseases.
However, the opposition claims that these studies are conducted by researchers with ulterior motives and in fact, can be made to say what ever the researchers wants. In other words, the opposition claims that the studies are not valid. Yet, many studies have shown a correlation between legalized same sex marriage and increased over all health and well being for members of the LGBT community.
Statistics show that same sex married couples are more likely to stay together than couples that simply live together. In fact, same sex couples that are raising children, are more likely to stay together than heterosexual couples raising children. In addition, there is proof that same sex couples are significantly under-reported in the census. In fact, the census does not allow same sex couples to list themselves as married since the federal government does not recognize same sex marriage.
Therefore, there are no reliable statistics relating to the number of same sex married couples, or same sex married couples that are raising children. The statistics are probably higher that what has been reported. In addition, heterosexual couples are raising children at a rate that is less than double that of same sex couples raising children. In other words, there are many same sex couples successfully raising children.
In addition, statistics show that adoptions are completed by same sex couples at a higher percentage rate than opposite sex couples. In fact, same sex couples are more likely to adopt a special needs child. According to recent statistics, around 14,000 foster children are currently being raised by same sex couples. Statistical trends show an increase of societal acceptance for both gay adoption and gay marriage. However, most Americans are still against same sex marriage, while many support domestic unions or civil unions.
Legislation regarding same sex marriage rights, began when Hawaii legalized same sex marriage. However, Hawaii quickly overturned the legalization of gay marriage. Marriage licenses were never actually issued to same sex couples in Hawaii. However, there was a quick response by other states because of the possibility that gay marriage could be considered legal when one interpreted the state's Constitution.
Currently, legislation in many US states is also being created in responses to some states legalizing same sex marriage, while other explicitly ban it. In fact, same sex marriage legislation is currently pending worldwide. In general, gay marriage laws change with great frequency. For example, the state of Maine legally allowed and then prohibited gay marriage in less than six months. In general, legislation in the United States tends to ban gay marriage rights. For example, thirty nine states enacted some form of the Defense of Marriage Act, thereby prohibiting gay marriage rights in those states. However, some of those states do offer a legal recognition of domestic partnerships and civil unions.
In fact legislation usually prohibits the usage of the term marriage, rather then the conferment of rights on same sex relationships. While some states refuse to recognize same sex relationships in any form, others do. Alabama and Florida are just two examples of states that refuse to offer any relationship rights to same sex couples. However, some states did not adopt the Defense of Marriage Act and confer rights to same sex relationships. Many people believe that DOMA will be repealed on the basis that it discriminates against members of the LGBT community.
On the international level, many countries are creating legislation on gay marriage. In fact, many countries have recently legally recognized same sex marriage, domestic partnerships or same sex marriage. However, many countries have also created legislation that explicitly forbids legal recognition of same sex marriage or other same sex relationships .
In the United States, The political debate about gay marriage rights began when Hawaii legalized and then quickly prohibited gay marriage. Hawaii was the first state to take either action. In response to the legalization of gay marriage in Hawaii, many politicians began to take action to be sure that same sex marriage would not be legally recognized in their state. In fact, when Hawaii prohibited gay marriage before any licenses were issued, a worldwide public debate about gay marriage rights would cause quick action by both lawmakers and the LGBT community.
As states began to enact amendments similar to the Defense of Marriage Act, other states responded by allowing legally recognized civil unions or domestic partnerships. In fact, Massachusetts would be the first state to legalize same sex marriage. Political parties have responded with staunch support or opposition to the same sex marriage debate. While Democrats are generally in favor of gay marriage, Republicans are generally against the legalization of gay marriage.
However, religious affiliation also plays a part in personal opinions about same sex marriage. While the Jewish and Wicca faiths are generally accepting of LGBT rights, including same sex marriage, others are not. The Catholic and Islamic faiths, take a strong stance against homosexuality and same sex marriage. In fact, both religions view homosexuality as a sin against God and refuse to recognize any rights, religious or otherwise, for same sex couples.
The Jewish Reform movement, has led the way in accepting members of the LGBT community. In fact, synagogue members are very vocal in their support for gay rights, including the right for legalized same sex marriage. In addition, Jewish congregations now recognize same sex marriages and confer marriage rights upon those couples.
However, it is up to individual rabbis and congregations as to whether they perform ceremonies of confer marriage rights to the couple. The Jewish reform movement has voiced opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act and there has been many clashes between religious leaders and politicians.