Gay marriage (also known as ) Same-sex marriage is marriage between two people of the same biological sex and/or gender identity. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage or the possibility to perform a same-sex marriage is sometimes referred to as marriage equality or equal marriage, particularly by supporters. The legalization of same-sex marriage is characterized as “redefining marriage” by many opponents.
The first laws enabling same-sex marriage in modern times were enacted during the first decade of the 21st century. As of 9 May 2014, sixteen countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, Uruguay) and several sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Mexico and the United States) allow same-sex couples to marry. Polls in various countries show that there is rising support for legally recognizing same-sex marriage across race, ethnicity, age, religion, political affiliation, and socioeconomic status.
Introduction of same-sex marriage laws has varied by jurisdiction, being variously accomplished through a legislative change to marriage laws, a court ruling based on constitutional guarantees of equality, or by direct popular vote (via a ballot initiative or a referendum). The recognition of same-sex marriage is a political, social, human rights and civil rights issue, as well as a religious issue in many nations and around the world, and debates continue to arise over whether same-sex couples should be allowed marriage, or instead be allowed to hold a different status (a civil union), or be denied such rights. Same-sex marriage can provide same-sex couples who pay their taxes with government services and make financial demands on them comparable to those afforded to and required of opposite-sex married couples. Same-sex marriage also gives them legal protections such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights.
Some analysts state 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.
Same-sex marriages can be performed in a secular civil ceremony or in a religious setting. Various faith communities around the world support allowing same-sex couples to marry or conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies; for example: Buddhism in Australia, Church of Sweden, Conservative Judaism, U.S. Episcopalians, Humanistic Judaism, Native American religions with a two-spirit tradition, Druids, the Metropolitan Community Church, Quakers, Reconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalists, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, and Wiccans, as well as various other progressive and modern Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish groups and various minor religions and other denominations.
Numerous polls and studies on the issue have been conducted, including those that were completed throughout the first decade of the 21st century. A consistent trend of increasing support for same-sex marriage has been revealed across the world. Much of the research that was conducted in developed countries in the first decade of the 21st century shows a majority of people in support of same-sex marriage. Support for legal same-sex marriage has increased across every age group, political ideology, religion, gender, race and region of various developed countries in the world.
Recent polling in the United States has shown a further increase in public support for same-sex marriage. When adults were asked in 2005 if they thought “marriages between homosexuals should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages”, 28 percent replied in the affirmative, while 68 percent replied in the negative (the remaining 4 percent stated that they were unsure). When adults were asked in March 2013 if they supported or opposed same-sex marriage, 50 percent said they supported same-sex marriage, while 41 percent were opposed, and the remaining 9 percent stated that they were unsure. Various detailed polls and studies on same-sex marriage that were conducted in several countries show that support for same-sex marriage generally increases with higher levels of education, and that younger people are more likely to support legalization than older generations.
Denmark was the first state to recognize a legal relationship for same-sex couples, establishing “registered partnerships” very much like marriage in 1989. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to grant same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriages are also granted and mutually recognized by Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), Denmark (2012), Brazil (2013), France (2013), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013) and England & Wales (2014). In Mexico, same-sex marriage is recognized in all 31 states but only performed in Mexico City, Quintana Roo and Chihuahua. In Nepal, their recognition has been judicially mandated but not yet legislated. In the United States, eighteen states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage, beginning with Massachusetts in 2004. Additionally, per the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor (2013), the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages performed in U.S. states where it is legal.