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“”Gays can't marry because Irish Potato Famine mutant lawnweed can't speak goddamned English.
|—Grahame Morris, former Liberal Party advisor (paraphrased)|
Same-sex marriage (also called gay marriage)[note 1] is the union of two individuals of the same sex in a marital relationship, with the full legal rights and responsibilities allotted to this contract in a given jurisdiction. Legally defined marriage of homosexual couples is limited to almost 40 countries as of 2023; some other places have "civil unions", which includes many of the all-important legal trappings, without the title "marriage" and the religious overtones some think are implied by the word.
Supporters of same-sex marriage may refer to it as "marriage equality," (e.g., the Marriage Equality Act of New York State), while opponents may call it "redefining marriage,"[note 2] or may use scare quotes (i.e., same-sex "marriage").[note 3]
As of June 2023, the institution of traditional marriage has been updated in thirty-six countries.[note 4] Marriage has been shifting from a religiously-dictated ritual to a social construct that is no longer related to the personal beliefs, or to any ritualism specific to organized religion.
Same-sex marriage is sometimes conflated with the civil union of two same-sex individuals. For that reason, this article will cover both.
There are several religious groups that endorse or perform gay marriages, including Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, Eckists, Raëlians, Druids, Native American faiths with two-spirit traditions, certain Reform Jewish rabbis, Wiccans, and the Satanic Temple.
Same-sex marriages in history
“”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.
|—American Anthropological Association, 2004.|
The earliest European civilisation known to have a concept of officially-recognised same-sex relationships were the Ancient Greeks, who used a form of civil partnership to unite older men and boys. The Romans were legally opposed to same-sex marriages, but the Emperor had the power to allow such marriages. Nero himself married a man by the name of Pythagoras (not that Pythagoras), where the only thing truly "scandalous" about it was that he took the role of the bride rather than the groom.
In Christian society, same-sex marriages were treated to varying degrees in its first millennium, depending on whether the local church felt that love was a better reason to marry than just sex. The existence of "Josephite marriages" is another example of this dispute, where soulmates are officially married but also committed to celibacy. By the 4th century, the now-Christianised Roman Empire quickly outlawed and condemned same-sex marriages under Emperor Constantine II. This did not rule out marriage for later Christian states, however, as the Kingdom of Galicia allowed at least one church wedding in 1061. After a thousand years of squabbling, the Catholic Church finally banned same-sex marriages outright in the 1400s, replacing it with a civil partnership known as "brother-making", which may have entailed homosexuality in individual cases, however evidence is highly questionable. However, if a marriage was made the Church was committed to acknowledging its existence, as seen in the case of Marcela Gracia Ibeas and Elisa Sánchez Loriga in 20th century Spain, though they were excommunicated for the act.
Arguments for same-sex marriage
The argument for equality is the most compelling and obvious for allowing same-sex marriage. Most laws in the Western world are designed to be inclusive and protective of all, so it makes little sense to deny a group of people the legal protection and support that a marriage provides.
Some, however, object to equality as an argument for same-sex marriage. They believe that if homosexuality deserves equal protection, then logically, deviant practices such as incest or bestiality must be allowed the same equal protection. Their belief is that if two adults love each other, that is insufficient grounds to allow marriage — siblings who love each other cannot marry, for example, and an adult who loves a child or their golden retriever cannot marry them. Incest (in the meaning of sexual encounter between 2 closely-related beings capable of producing a child), however, differs from same-sex marriage in that there is a higher than usual risk that a child born to the closely-related couple could suffer genetic defects. Bestiality and adult-child marriages are also a violation of informed consent, which is the biggest flaw of that argument. Another basic idea is that when many women got the right to vote a few decades ago, it didn't follow up with dogs getting that right, nor the right to drive cars. Why? Because dogs are not sapient beings with civil rights akin to those of human beings.
Basic human rights
A human right, by definition, extends to all humans. Freely choosing one's own spouse, regardless of gender or status, is a fundamental human right. However, social conservatives believe that claims to human rights may be mitigated by moral barriers. They argue that just as humans cannot choose to marry children or siblings, they likewise should not be able to marry someone of the same gender, and rinse/repeat etc.
Being married to the partner of your preferred gender allows participants a much happier domestic life, and better sex. Or at least, sex with a gender you're not desperately unattracted to.
This also comes in the form of mental health benefits for gay people, as has been shown by a number of studies. Legalizing same-sex marriage is correlated with reductions in mental healthcare visits and associated costs for both gay men and bisexual men. Same-sex couples also saw their risk of suicide decline after same-sex marriage was made legal. Even for LGBT youth, who aren't old enough to get married, there are still benefits. In the United States, the legalization of gay marriage was associated with lower suicide attempt rates among LGBT youth, as legalizing gay marriage helps destigmatize LGBT people at large including those who are too young for marriage.
Same benefits as opposite-sex marriage
The benefits that people ascribe to opposite-sex marriage — greater commitment, a better place to raise children, a more fulfilling and satisfactory existence etc. — ought to be available for same-sex partners who want to get married. There is no evidence, outside the opinions of certain pundits and propaganda from the right-wing, that a marriage between two women or two men is less beneficial to society than a heterosexual one. This argument has been used by UK Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader David Cameron, who has said that "Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative." This had brought criticism from leading British figures in the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.
Lower divorce rate
Interestingly, same-sex marriages are significantly less likely to end in divorce than heterosexual marriages. Even more interestingly, gay people tend not to belong to a denomination or faith that abhors divorce in the first place, for reasons that should be obvious. There are several possibilities as to why the divorce rate is lower. For instance, without the risk of accidental pregnancy, there are no shotgun weddings. Furthermore, a society with people allowed to be openly gay are less likely to have closeted people end up in sham marriages, which would slightly lower the rate of divorce for opposite-sex marriages as well.
Arguments against same-sex marriage
To characterize arguments against gay marriage, most suggest that allowing persons of the same sex to marry will somehow destroy the family, destroy marriage, or destroy both at once. Multiple courts have already found such argumentation to be ridiculous,:77 and of course, this didn't happen in any country that legalized gay marriage thus far.
A real problem with arguing for same-sex marriage is that allowing same-sex marriage is much more contentious than allowing same-sex civil unions with all the same rights as marriages.[note 5] Because the word "marriage" is considered inherently better than the word "civil union," allowing for same-sex civil unions would still let opponents of gay marriage hold what they consider to be a position of superiority over homosexuals, due to the implication that the government holds heterosexuals in higher regard than homosexuals. The Religious Right often attempted to argue against gay marriage by conflating gay marriage with civil unions, and deliberately trying to whitewash over the possibility of civil unions as an intermediate step between no-rights and marriage. Since the Religious Right had a lot to gain from this deliberate mischaracterization, it did not cease until full marriage equality was achieved.
However, it is critically important to remember that, when talking about the right to same-sex marriages, few people are talking about forcing churches to marry homosexual couples. In the US, this would be unconstitutional.[note 6] After all, churches will — and should — do what they want, and some churches do marry gay couples.
In the debate on same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom, the idea that churches would be forced (possibly — gasp! — by the European Union) to marry gay couples against their will had been brought up by opponents of same-sex marriage… but nobody ever seemed to see that the same argument applies to divorcees or inter-faith marriages. And no evil Eurocrats or activist judges have been keen on forcing Catholic churches to perform marriages for divorcees.
What most people are talking about are the legal benefits that flow from marriage — inheritance, veterans benefits, hospital visitations, etc.
Slippery slope arguments
The slippery slope fallacy as applied needs no serious answer because it presumes that gay marriage and (insert horrible thing here) can only be wrong for the same reason, such as "the Bible says so" or "it's just unnatural" or something else. If it's not necessarily the same reason, then each practice can be considered and rejected/accepted on its own terms. But if it always is then no one would have different opinions on both things, yet plenty of people do (from gay rights activists who oppose polygamy, to religious fundamentalist polygamists who oppose homosexuality).
A common argument against gay marriage is that it is the thin end of the (gay) wedge that will lead society down a slippery slope to complete collapse.[note 7] The argument holds that the "gay lobby" only wants gay marriage to be a starting point. Next will be gay adoption, IVF and surrogacy (all of which exist in Australia already). After that will come the lowering of the age of consent and polygamy/polyandry. After that, siblings will be allowed to marry. Once this agenda has been realised, the stage will be set for the legalisation of bestiality and "inter-species marriage". The final step will be "inanimate object marriage."[note 8] Once all of this is done, so the argument goes, naturally every single heterosexual person will have either turned gay or married an animal or object with which it cannot reproduce, and society will be forever destroyed.
This argument overlooks several factors, including that: in none of the places where gay marriage is already legal has this occurred; gay marriage activists tend to either stop lobbying or focus their efforts on other LGBTQ+ issues like anti-discrimination laws once they have gay marriage rather than moving on to inter-species marriage; and that most heterosexuals are in fact heterosexuals and are not simply biding their time until they can legally marry a person of the same sex/donkey/computer keyboard.
To put it another way, users of the slippery-slope argument are saying that one's views on gay rights have to be held hostage to one's issues with polygamy or incest, or else one is guilty of hypocrisy. This is fallacious regardless of whether or not polygamy and incest are objectively wrong. Even if hypocrisy is a consequence of accepting gay rights and rejecting the parade of prophesied horribles, it doesn't follow that avoiding personal hypocrisy is more important than expanding civil rights. After all, if hypocrisy is to be avoided, we shouldn't see so many advocates of a limited government that stays out of people's private affairs advocating for the government to decide who may and may not get married.
The argument further misses the fact that bestiality was a legal practice in many countries until the 21st century, when several countries started to make it punishable by law, which was also around the same time that same-sex marriage became allowed in many countries. While correlation is not causation — and the penalizing of bestiality is due to demands from animal rights activists more than anything else — it is more than enough reason to assume that that slippery slope doesn't work, as one doesn't see those same animal rights activists organizing protests in favor of abolishing same-sex marriage.
Slouching toward NAMBLA
Just look at all those other countries that legalised gay marriage, they were marrying pedos to kids within a matter of… well… that actually hasn't happened anywhere at all, but it's a matter of time!
This ignores the fact that homosexual love was accepted for decades before gay marriage was legalised, while pedophile love is still considered totally unacceptable by almost everyone; hence a major change in attitude would be needed for marrying 8 year olds to be considered. Also, there has been a movement against marriage of young people in the west, while in many traditional Christian, Muslim, and Hindu nations, marriage below 18 or even 16 is common. In the USA, liberal Delaware and New Jersey have the strictest restrictions on marriage below 18, while according to UNICEF, the conservative, religious state of Missouri is "a destination wedding spot for 15-year-old child brides".
In any event, those who argue a slippery slope from same-sex marriage to pedophilia are openly admitting that they don't find the distinction of "consenting adults" meaningful, which is in itself pretty disturbing.
This is probably the most reasonable argument for the anti-gay marriage side — if there is a fundamental right to marry whomever you choose, why can't married people get married to more people? However, it makes several fundamentally problematic assumptions, namely:
- Legalizing polygamy is necessarily a bad thing.
- Polygamy won't be legalized anyway.
- Polygamy won't remain illegal because it causes harm.
- The same slippery slope argument applies to interracial marriage.
The best argument against this is the fact that polygamy is much more complicated than a marriage of two consenting adults, especially in a legal sense; in fact, there are multiple possible ways to have a plural marriage, each with its own possible benefits and detriments to the individuals and society, whereas there's only one way to allow two consenting adults of the same sex to marry each other in the modern world. The fact that it's complicated doesn't mean that it's bad, but it does mean there needs to be more debate to nail down exactly what kind of polygamous marriages society is going to endorse, if any.
Another argument against this is that polygamy, or at least polygyny, was legal in ancient times. Ergo, allowing same sex marriage would move us further away from polygamy, not closer.
Counter-argument: Comparison with interracial marriage
Many people used to (and some still do) feel that interracial marriage was wrong and that a black guy kissing a white lady, or vice versa, was creepy and uncomfortable. Simply being uncomfortable with something is not a reason to ban it. Two people speaking Spanish between themselves in front of you on the bus may make you uncomfortable, but is it really a good idea to say that speaking Spanish (in, say, a predominantly English speaking country) should be illegal?[note 9]
As laws are supposed to be founded on objective proof and logical discourse, one person's squeamish reaction to two people of the same sex, different races, or different social classes getting close should not and cannot be used as a legal argument against them marrying.
Counter-argument: Backwards slope
The fun thing with slippery slope arguments is that they slip both ways. By the same logic, if we were to repeal gay marriage where it's legal based on the notion that "marriage is for having children only", we could ban marriages involving people unable to reproduce (e.g., the elderly or infertile people), and eventually ban marriage altogether.
Hurts traditional marriage roles
This is actually true, though it's mostly phrased this way by supporters considering it as an advantage, not by opponents. The "traditional" roles in question being roles that social changes advocated against in the last hundred years. Gay marriage makes stereotypical traditional marriage roles look as silly as they are. Marriage equality is a threat to those who do not believe in equality between the sexes in general.
Of course, the marriages that enforced traditional gender roles were the marriages which existed under coverture, when a woman was legally subsumed into her husband for most practical purposes once she was married, such that her public life effectively ended and she was confined to the private sphere and had to rely on her husband to handle most things outside of the home. That is long dead in most of the world, and died decades before same-sex marriage was even much discussed in the Western world.
Changes goal from procreation
Similarly, some argue that the state recognizes marriage in order to promote procreation, which ensures the state's continued existence. The argument goes that since procreation is generally the result of sexual union between a man and a woman, recognizing same-sex marriage doesn't make any sense. However, they fail to note the generally. Same-sex couples can also procreate (rather than adopt) through IVF or surrogacy, albeit with some more red tape and planning to go through. Scientists are also working on ways to make sperm from eggs, make eggs from stem cells, and grow babies in artificial womb, so in the future, there may not even be the need for a donor.
This also ignores the fact that procreation is not a requirement for heterosexual marriage. Child benefit is just one of many legal and tax benefits given to married couples, such as spousal Social Security benefits, Medicare and other medical benefits, estate planning benefits, disability benefits, employment benefits, death benefits, family benefits such as right to property, housing benefits, consumer benefits such as tuition and insurance discounts, allowing filings of wrongful death suits, marital communication privileges, visiting rights, and more, alongside simply giving them the opportunity to register their commitment to one another and have it acknowledged by the state. None of these are taken away if a couple fails to produce children on a regular basis, as they are there to provide stability to a committed couple, regardless of how many
crying screaming sods bundles of joy they wish to have.
Also, if "marriage is for procreation", then by that logic we shouldn't be giving marriage licenses to people who have had vasectomies/tied tubes, people who are naturally sterile, or even the guy that got hit too hard in the soccer balls with a soccer ball.
The procreation argument alone should be insulting for those involved in an honest relationship. To define marriage as simply a vehicle for procreation undermines the deeper relationships and meaning of marriage. So much for "defense of marriage". If anything, the argument is insulting to children, as it determines their worth in numbers, rather than how they are cared for. Better to raise one child or none in a stable working household than bring three into one that cannot support them. And in case you didn't realise, we have a global problem going on.
While some states had implemented same-sex marriage bans using procreation as the reasoning, courts within a day of each other in 2013 ruled that the bans in New Mexico and Utah were violations of the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Both judges ruled that procreation was not a valid argument because heterosexual couples who were elderly (e.g. post-menopausal), infertile or otherwise making a conscious decision not to have children were not subject to the same ban that same sex couples were. Judge Terence Kern noted in his decision for the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma that "civil marriage… does not have any procreative prerequisites", and concluded that "permitting same-sex couples to receive a marriage license does not harm, erode, or somehow water-down the 'procreative' origins of the marriage institution.":58
Lesbian sperm thieves
David Usher of RenewAmerica warns that women will, given the slightest opportunity, all marry each other, thus taking all the legal privilege from men, and use the men only as a source of sperm. But then again, he is batshit insane.
It is a "counterfeit" that devalues the "real thing"
This video compares gay marriage to counterfeit money, calling your van a "Porsche", or making your college degree look like a Cambridge diploma. It pretends that same-sex marriage somehow devalues "real" marriage since the big man in the sky has the patent on it. Science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer has an excellent rebuttal to this argument on his blog by contrasting the debasement of a title (professor) by awarding it to persons "who (a) hadn’t obtained the highest academic degree in their discipline and (b) had done no original research he felt debased the term" with gay marriage which "doesn’t cheapen, diminish, or reduce anyone’s marriage" and "takes nothing away from anyone else."
No marriage at all
A rare argument, typically seen among libertarians, is that not only should the state not sanction same-sex marriage, but that it should get out of the marriage business altogether. As a private arrangement between consenting adults, they argue, there is no reason for state intervention.
However, this doesn't really solve the inequality problem. (Advocates of the no-marriage solution rarely seem to spend their time evangelising this view to married heterosexuals). This also don't address the issue of the rights, privileges, and benefits associated with marriage. As these include matters where the state has a compelling interest, such as property rights that can frequently end up in dispute, the state has no choice but to get involved in some way so as to maintain order.
Another Libertarian prescription would be to provide civil unions for all, and let churches perform marriages which would have no legal standing. This system exists in several European countries; a legally binding civil ceremony is required, but the option exists to have an additional church ceremony for those who want it. The American system is actually very similar to this; however, due to legal language, the term "civil union" presents a case of "separate but equal", and the Supreme Court has previously ruled the term (in Brown v. Board of Education) to be a paradox, i.e. inherently impossible. Because the rights and privileges are currently tied to the specific term "marriage", nothing less than marriage (in the legal sense) is considered acceptable. Meanwhile, proponents correctly argue that the religious ceremony is irrelevant to this case and is not being argued; it is the legal status associated with the civil ceremony that is at issue. The 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson initially supported a version of this that would involve changing every instance of the word "marriage" in every bit of government regulation to instead say "civil union", thus theoretically satisfying the constitutional argument, but he later changed his mind to support full marriage equality once he realized how impractical his proposal was.
Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, libertarian Reason Magazine argued that the long-term goal of eliminating government-sponsored marriage entirely was no reason to oppose same-sex marriage in the short term. They compared this to a hypothetical situation where the government passed a law forbidding blacks from driving on interstate highways — clearly it would not be enough for libertarians to declare that government should not own the roads and leave it at that. They argued the similar argument against same-sex marriage is thus equally invalid. The article went as far as to say there is no solid libertarian argument against same-sex marriage. In other words, even from a libertarian perspective, this argument makes no sense.
"Just don't call it marriage"
Some people don't oppose gay unions, but oppose calling them "marriage", often citing how they believe marriage should be exclusively a religious thing. These people will often support civil unions or another form of recognized partnership as a "moderate" option. However, there are several problems with this:
- Virtually every time they are implemented, civil unions don't grant all of the same rights as marriages. Adoption rights, for instance, usually aren't granted by civil unions.
- People in civil unions are forced to reveal their sexual orientation every time they have to reveal their marital status, e.g. when they apply for a job or housing. This can easily lead to discrimination.
- Marriage is a legal status that is recognized even in secular states. Religions don't have a monopoly on marriage, as most countries recognize marriages through marriage licenses or similar systems rather than requiring any religious ceremonies.
- And as mentioned before, there are many religions that do support gay marriage. Why should they be banned from marrying gay people?
Arguments about children and reproduction
Conservatives might shout "Won't somebody think of the children?" and defend the norm of the heterosexual nuclear family. Of course, some children have same-sex parents, and contrary to flawed studies, credible research[note 10] can't seem to find any difference between them and children raised by opposite-sex parents. Ironically, homophobic policies like bans on same-sex marriage diminish the ability of same-sex parents to form stable households, harming their children. So yes, won't somebody think of the children indeed?
The argument that children should not be raised by same-sex couples has been debunked extensively. Scientific research has consistently shown that homosexual parents are just as effective as heterosexual parents, and the psychological well-being of children reared by same-sex couples is not worse than that of children raised by opposite-sex parents. In fact, same-sex couples and their children are likely to benefit greatly from legal recognition through marriage, moreso than through civil unions. Studies from 2011 added a tantalizing suggestion that not only are gay couples "equal" parents to straight couples, they might even be better on average for two reasons: Firstly, gay couples are more likely to have chosen the time and place for children, as they cannot accidentally get pregnant or have more children than they want, and secondly, gay couples (and this is true of any child raised outside of the 'norm') generally expose kids to more diversity in their relationships, resulting in the children being raised with more tolerance.
"Children need a male and a female role model"
A child has many opportunities to find role models; such role models don't need to be legal guardians of the child. Children of full-time working parents spend more time awake in daycare and school than with their parents. It should also be noted that, despite insistence that having both a male and female parent is vital for child development, homophobes will typically have less of a problem with single parents raising children.
Since the most early times, even before we could be called “humans”, our tribes lived their daily lives at the center of the village, raising their children together. The modern version of this is day nurseries, schools, sports clubs, the uncle that gives you a job, etc. So we humans have always had more than just our biological parents to raise us, and there were always enough women and men around (unless the child is raised on Mount Athos.) One could even argue that all groups of social animals do exactly the same, even if in more primitive forms.
This argument is also not an argument against same-sex marriage but against same-sex parenting, which opponents of homosexuality frequently conflate. If you truly believe in the social good of marriage and long-term relationships but dislike gay people being parents, then considering that gay people are parents (from sperm donation, surrogacy, adoption or previous heterosexual relationships), they should probably prefer that gay parents are in long-term, stable relationships… but they never quite seem to get around to seeing the validity of this point.
"Children should be raised by their biological parents"
There is little convincing evidence to back up this somewhat arbitrary claim, as a child's development is determined by the relationship and interactions with a parent, rather than pure genetic relationship. There are also many orphans who cannot or should not be raised by their biological parents and a shortage of adopters.
Stable same-sex couples provide a pool of potential adopters prepared to raise children in a loving environment — one that is probably better, in fact, than what their biological parents would have provided. Same-sex couples never accidentally adopt a baby or have one birthed by a surrogate. This means that on average, same-sex couples are older, more responsible, and far more prepared to raise a child than the average opposite-sex couple.
"The law of fatherhood is not applicable to same-sex couples"
In many jurisdictions, the fatherhood is commonly handed to the mother's husband by default, even if he is not the biological father. Same-sex couples don't function that way, but this can be solved by consensual agreements between the breeders. Notwithstanding some non-consensual events, it's not like they will fertilize by accident if they are gay.
Divorce is unforeseeable and is thus not comparable to intentional same-sex union
Drunks, murderers, drug users, violent people, serial killers, and Rick Perry are all conditions that are also unforeseeable, yet no one seems to have a problem with those people having children. Are we going to examine each person and decide whether they can have children or not in order to create some kind of "pure race", where only the perfect people can have children? Even if homosexuality would have a bad influence on the children, that still isn't a good argument unless you want to create a utopian society of perfect people having perfect children.
So is driving a car.
In all seriousness, apart from homosexual relationships being encountered in non-humans as well, this is actually fallacious on multiple fronts. First, it seems to hold nature (the same nature that has given us countless illnesses, parasites, disfigurement, disasters, and death) in a higher regard than human will and happiness. Second, it ignores that humans, gay humans included, are part of nature too and therefore have as much of a right to define it. Third, it implies that if something is unnatural, it is b. Of course, this ignores that there are quite a lot of things in the lives of humans that are unnatural. Wearing coats rather than fur, for example, or even the computer that you're reading this page off of. But really, considering that all computers and smoke-belching factories have to be derived from something natural somewhere, just what exactly is "unnatural"?
Some people seriously consider this as a genuine reason for banning gay marriage. An individual being uncomfortable with a subject, however, shouldn't be the basis for a discriminatory law.
The general thinking will be thus: "Seriously, have you ever seen two guys kiss? Unpleasant. And the feelings it stirs up, the twin repulsion and attraction… UNCOMFORTABLE. Clearly, such activities must be banned! Not letting them get married is a good first step."
Many Christians attempt to argue that, since their opposition to gay marriage is based on religious grounds, allowing gay marriage or prohibiting discrimination against gays is somehow infringing upon their religious liberty[note 12] — never mind the religious freedom of the gay couple.
The short answer to this is: "Tough!"
The long answer is: "Tough shit!"
The longer answer is that describing hatred or discrimination as religiously motivated does not make it any less evil. Rigid gender roles and discrimination against people of different races have also been justified on the basis of religion… but they are still wrong. Mass murder and slavery have been justified on the basis of religion. That doesn't make them right, however. This is a basic underpinning of a pluralist society. Where there are multiple worldviews and versions of "morality," the one that should be used to form laws is the one that minimizes harm.[note 13] This is the essential thinking behind laws such as the establishment clause or any law that separates church and state.
In the US specifically, every citizen has the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", any such activity that could interfere with those basic rights is prohibited – the whole "your right to swing your fist ends where my face begins" idea. The legal answer is that regardless of religion, when a discriminatory action is identified, Congress has the power by the Fourteenth Amendment to eradicate that evil. Further, free exercise does not include hate crimes.[note 14] Finally, speech against homosexuality — like all hate speech — is protected by the First Amendment, to a degree.[note 15] In addition, at the federal level, Congress is not allowed to pass laws that are purely for religious purposes because of the First Amendment, and religious opposition to same-sex marriage has no legal ground to stand on. This also applies at the state level with the inclusion of the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibiting rights being denied without a secular cause (due process), and in many cases, people don't care if [insert religion here] recognizes a gay couple's marriage; they tend to be more focused on their government recognizing their marriage. So religious freedom is unharmed, so long as it does not infringe upon another's freedom. John Stuart Mill would be proud.
This argument also tends to ignore that non-homophobic religions exist as well. If, for instance, a Unitarian church couldn't marry a gay couple, wouldn't that infringe upon their religious freedom?
Christian fundamentalists sometimes argue that same-sex marriage risks divine retribution. In California in 2008, after hundreds of same-sex marriages, Ray Comfort argued that a drought and ensuing wildfires were the result of God demonstrating his displeasure with the state for legalizing gay marriage. Incidentally, the fires affected the more biblically-oriented people in rural California, while those more likely to have voted for gay marriage, in San Francisco for example, escaped retribution.
At present (June 2008) there are 840 wild-fires that are burning at once in California, destroying many homes. The fires were started by lightning strikes. Guess who's in charge of the electrical departCalifornia it's fair and dryment? These are from thunder storms that have no rain. Guess who gives the rain? You said "while in ." We are having the worst drought in our recorded history. Last year 1,155 homes were destroyed.
Any natural disaster can be shoehorned into this, "Seriously. Isn’t it nice how God has arranged that there is pain and suffering in every part of the world, just so His preachers have something to point to and say “Sinners!”?" (PZ Myers)
The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel … will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war. … It is his fault (David Cameron, promoter of English gay marriage legislation) that large swathes of the nation have been afflicted by storms and floods. … He has arrogantly acted against the Gospel that once made Britain 'great' and the lesson surely to be learned is that no man or men, however powerful, can mess with Almighty God with impunity and get away with it for everything a nation does is weighed on the scaled of divine approval or disapproval.
Until now only one society in all of history practiced it, the Antediluvian. … The practice was the reason for Noah’s flood. The risk of retribution is real. … Same-sex marriage will destroy this nation … that will cross a final line with God.
Just in case natural disasters are not enough, Pat Robertson argued that God would (probably) punish Americans for allowing LGBT rights with a "massive financial collapse." World stock market turmoil is also a punishment for allowing gay marriage.
If the majority of the people don't want same-sex marriage, unpopular laws allowing it could backfire and result in more aggression (we should wait until people become more open-minded).
This ignores the fact that a majority of people (at least in the West) do support same-sex marriage, and ignores the generational demographics. Each passing generation is more supportive than the last, with the growth getting faster each time and acceptance growing quicker and quicker as support becomes more visible. The end result is that the largest group of people against it are old, while younger generations who will continue society after the homophobic generations are gone show overwhelming support.
Happiness for whom?
As discussed above, in a community allowing same-sex marriage, the two partners in the union experience greater personal happiness. However, when same-sex marriage is banned, those who experience greater happiness are those uninvolved with the relationship, for example, Bible-thumping preachers, wingnuts, busybodies, etc. These people gain some slight personal pleasure from the violation of rights and oppression of others. It also seems that as moral agents worried about human happiness and suffering, we ought to ignore happiness that comes only through denying rights to others.
Recent studies have suggested that not only does legalizing marriage in an area generally make homosexual individuals in that area happier, it also makes them physically and mentally healthier and saves them money on health care. Studies are not known to have shown a similar increase in health for the oppressors.
People will be forced to accept gays
A rather weak argument is that even though gay marriage won't affect other people's marriages, it will somehow affect their lives. One example is judges being forced to grant same-sex marriage (i.e., do their jobs). If a judge refuses he or she could be sanctioned. However, this is not a religious issue and judges aren't changing their personal views. Of course, if a judge nowadays decided not to grant marriage for interracial or interfaith couples, there would be outrage.
If gay people are allowed to adopt, then adoption agencies will have to allow same-sex couples to adopt their children, giving them a loving home. Because of this pressure some agencies would rather terminate their agencies than let a minority adopt children. This is where the argument becomes moot, because the problem ceases to exist.
And when it comes to having children, doctors will have to perform artificial insemination on lesbian couples even if it goes against their moral code. In effect, the doctor would be playing God, deciding on who can have children and who can't.[note 16] As with the judge analogy, people would be outraged if the doctor refused to inseminate based on race or religion (which has happened in 2014). Come on, if there's somebody there willing to do an abortion, they'll put a turkey baster in there too.
On the subject of children, schools will teach children what gay marriage is like. This is very simple, but many parents have strong objections over it. The truth is, the schools aren't saying gay marriage is better than straight marriage, it is just saying that this is a reality. Since same-sex couples can have children now, it makes sense for them to teach children what other families are like, and likely decreasing bullying while doing it. In addition, if a parent is so concerned about what their child is learning in school, they might want to consider using the other 17 hours in the day they see them to tell them how much they hate people who don't affect them.
There are moral objections to many aspects of jobs. However, that does not mean people should be excused from doing their jobs. A Hindu waiter can't refuse to serve meat at non-vegetarian restaurants without facing being fired. Doctors, judges, teachers, and adoption agencies shouldn't get a free pass, either.
Murder of African Christians
If the Church of England allows gay marriage, Africans could associate Christianity with homosexuality, then Africans could fear Christianity will turn them all gay. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby claimed there has been at least one mass murder of Christians due to this way of thinking. Later Welby amended what he said and claimed allowing such murders to affect Church of England policy would give in to terror.
Part of a Western agenda
As most of western Europe, North America, and the Anglosphere have legalized gay marriage, the fight for marriage equality has expanded all over the world. However, this has led to many conservative traditionalists arguing that same-sex marriage is a Western idea that has no place in their culture, and that the people who support it are promoting a Western agenda that will lead to the secularization/Americanization of their society. This ignores that many of these cultures have a long history of homosexuality and in many cases it was European colonialism that led to homosexuality being stigmatized, meaning that hating homosexuality is more of a Western invention. Just to name one example, the story of Pan Zhang and Wang Zhongxian is a story of a gay union that dates all the way back to the Zhou Dynasty in China.
"All of the above"
The "everything including the kitchen sink" approach is exemplified by a speech that Iowa State Senator Dennis Guth gave in April 2013 in which he accused gay people and homosexuality of breeding mental health problems, shortening people's lifespans, causing health problems for heterosexual Americans (by causing "more and more medical tests required before giving blood or giving birth", though what precautionary blood tests have to do with spreading disease is a mystery) and other phenomena, including the downfall of past civilizations due to the failure of traditional marriage. Unsurprisingly, Guth was a freshman Senator at the time, and the fact that he was up for election again in 2014 might explain the reasoning behind such a speech.
American legal arguments for same-sex marriage
Possible equal protection arguments
The easiest, most open-and-shut case for gay marriage goes like this: "prohibiting gay marriage classifies on the basis of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation discrimination is repugnant to the Constitution. Please allow gay marriage, or allow civil unions that confer the same benefits." This makes the most sense, and is the easiest formulation to state. However, the issue is a little harder…
The preceding argument is an equal protection argument. However gay rights have, thus far, only been advocated on substantive due process grounds (building from the due process clause), as in Lawrence v. Texas.[note 17] The same case ardently refused to address gay rights as an equal protection issue, and refused especially to suggest that gay rights deserve any special protection under the equal protection clause.[note 18] Without this special protection (strict scrutiny, hopefully at some point) such rights can be removed or abridged with a merely pretextual reason, effectively preventing an equal protection argument for gay marriage from succeeding.
Some hope was to be had, though; by way of implication in Romer v. Evans the Supreme Court intimated that homosexuality may be entitled to a higher form of protection, noting that "animus laid bare" is not enough to justify discrimination. This suggestion at least left the door open for an equal protection argument.
Substantive due process and the race analogy
The Supreme Court has once before tackled the right to marry. In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court invalidated a Virginia statute that voided and forbade any marriage between members of different races (miscegenation). The aptly named Lovings successfully sued Virginia to invalidate the law, although it required appealing to the Supreme Court to win a favorable verdict.
In the opinion, the Supreme Court struck down the statute largely based on equal protection grounds, finding that the statute improperly set up a racial hierarchy and perpetuated repression and discrimination against African Americans. Virginia had defended against this argument on the basis that the statute was "formally equal"; it did not hurt African Americans any more than Caucasians. Neither could marry the other. This formal equality, Virginia argued, was dispositive of any discrimination claim. In finding against Virginia, the Supreme Court employed its rarely used "Get Real!" technique; regardless of formal equality, said the Court, everyone knew the real impetus behind the law, and couching its defense in legal formalities would not allow the court to overlook this great inequity. This case was a great victory for the civil rights movement.
This was the holding of the case — or, its primary legal significance. Importantly, though, as an afterthought, the Court tossed in one comment at the very end of the opinion, saying that the Court had no need to reach the argument that the due process clause could protect, as fundamental to the American way of life, the right to marry. Although merely one line of dicta,[note 19] this line suggests that the Court at one point recognized a fundamental right to marry.
A theoretical argument for same-sex marriage could make use of this dicta, defining marriage as a "fundamental right" which is "deeply rooted" in the nation's history, implicit in the concept of "ordered liberty," and the restriction of this right should be struck down upon strict scrutiny unless it is "narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest."[note 20] The Supreme Court has consistently held that such rights are due protection.[note 20]Opponents will rebut, exclaiming that gay marriage is not a fundamental right — and therefore should be subject to the comparatively lighter form of judicial review, rational basis review. The dicta in Loving v. Virginia, proponents can argue, suggests otherwise.
Even if evaluating gay marriage under substantive due process triggers only rational basis review, though, restrictions on gay marriage arguably fail even this moderate test. Persuasive authority, found in Goodridge v. Dep’t of Public Health,[note 21] suggests that restrictions on gay marriage do fail rational basis review, finding such restrictions are arbitrary and capricious, since:
- There is no showing that restricting marriage to heterosexual couples will further any state interest: no state actor can prove damage to heterosexual marriages if gays are allowed to marry,
- Discrimination based on immorality fails, since this is impermissible in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas, and,
- The state (here, Massachusetts) conceded that gay parents are good parents.
However, any substantive due process argument for same-sex marriage would have to establish, as a predicate, that same-sex marriage is a type of conduct, since substantive due process generally protects only conduct.
Objections to the race analogy
Conservatives object strongly to any attempt to analogize between racism and homophobia, and discrimination against gays and discrimination against non-white races. The objection is based upon the assumption by said conservatives that sexual preference, unlike race, is not inborn (immutable). The obvious objection is that, in fact, sexual preference is immutable, although debate goes on, or, if not immutable, is so highly correlative with environmental factors and/or personal identity that it defies classification as a "choice," and should still be legally protected. A more appropriate analogy than race, in this case, would be religion — religion is a choice, although a deeply personal choice — and therefore, the law protects (and should protect) individuals from discrimination on the basis of such deep choices (and it does, in the case of religion).
On the other side of the political spectrum, some adherents of racial identity politics also maintain that analogies between racism and homophobia are false, their specific beef being the gay campaign against "don't ask, don't tell". Activist Sharon Martinas put it this way, "Some queer activists, whose movement was started by queers of color at Stonewall, focus their struggle on the right to become equal opportunity murderers of peoples of color in the U.S. military. And we use false analogies between homophobic and racial oppression to justify demands for these 'equal rights.'":5
These objections are, at least in the context of American constitutional law, spurious: Loving v. Virginia did not rely on race as a unique distinguishing category but on its conclusion (for which reason it was instrumental in developing substantive due process) that no state interest whatsoever benefited from excluding particular people from marriage. The decision in that case pointed out that marriage is a critically significant (and private) individual choice (outside the opinion, it's notable that even convicted murderers on death row are accorded the right to marry) and weighed restrictions on marriage as being presumptively unconstitutional and requiring the state to individually justify any limitations on it.
- Andorra legalized civil unions in 2014 and eventually legalized gay civil marriage in 2022, with all existing civil unions being converted to marriages.
- Argentina legalized same-sex marriage on July 15th, 2010.
- Australia has passed legislation legalizing gay marriage, which received assent from the Governor-General on 8th December 2017, coming into force the following day.
- Austria allowed civil unions ("registered partnerships") since January 1st, 2010. Benefits were mostly equal to full marriages but excluded adoption rights. Austria fully legalized gay marriage in 2019 due to a court ruling.
- Belgium was the second nation, after the Netherlands, to legalize same-sex marriage on January 30th 2003, in an at the time controversial move.
- Brazil has had civil unions since 2004. The situation was complex but a number of these unions had been recognized as marriages. Same-sex marriage was legal as of December 2012 in the state of São Paulo. In May 14, 2013, a Federal Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
- Canada legalized gay marriage in the province of Ontario in 2003.[note 22] Other provinces soon followed suit, and it was legalized across the country on July 20 2005, later surviving a second vote called by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper in 2006, who following the vote declared that the he "[doesn't] see reopening this question in the future."
- Chile has recognized civil unions since 2015. In December 2021, the legislature passed a bill legalizing gay marriage, with it coming into effect in March 2022.
- Colombia became the fourth South American country to legalize gay marriage in 2016 as a result of a court ruling.
- Costa Rica recognized same-sex civil partnerships since 2013. After a binding ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights legalizing same-sex marriage, the government announced its intention to comply by 2018.
- Cuba proposed a new family bill that would not only legalize gay marriage but also allow for adoptions and surrogacy in September 2021 after an earlier attempt to legalize same-sex marriage in the constitution failed due to opposition from hardline Catholic groups. A referendum on the bill was held one year later, and it passed with two thirds of voters in favor.
- Denmark was the first country to establish registered partnerships in 1989. The relevant rights have since been steadily expanded and covered adoptions since July 2010, with full marriage since June 2012. Greenland, a dependency of Denmark, legalized gay marriage in 2015, as did the Faroe Islands in 2017.
- Ecuador legalized gay marriage by court ruling in 2019.
- Estonia has allowed civil unions since 2015, but progress had been slowed and had even come close to outright reverting due to the rise of the far right. While Estonia has a reputation for being a liberal country, outside of Tallinn this isn't really the case. An attempt in 2020 to constitutionally ban gay marriage failed with the collapse of the coalition that pushed for it, but the following coalition wasn't much more friendly to gay rights. However, in June 2023, the Parliament finally passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, making them the first ex-Soviet Union country to do so.
- Finland has allowed civil unions since 2002, including the right to adopt a partner's own children. Attempts to introduce a gender neutral marriage law failed in 2012 after a 9 to 8 decision by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Finnish Parliament. However, on March 19th, 2013, a citizens' initiative managed to collect the 50,000 signatures required to override the Committee's decision in just a single day, putting the bill before Parliament. Finland would ultimately legalize gay marriage in 2017.
- France established civil unions in the form of private contracts in 1999. They were open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples and equal to marriages as far as taxation was concerned, but lacked some joint property and adoption rights. Same-sex marriage was legalized on May 18th, 2013.
- Germany introduced civil unions (called "registered partnerships") for same-sex couples in 2001. Gay marriage has been legalized by a vote of the German Parliament in 2017.
- Iceland legalized same-sex marriage in June 2010 by a unanimous 49-0 vote.
- Ireland approved a bill establishing civil unions with privileges equal to opposite-sex cohabitation (but not marriages, notably excluding joint adoption) in July 2010. The law came into effect on January 1st, 2011. Civil unions could not be classed as 'marriages' due to the constitution's definition, but following a referendum on May 22nd, 2015, the constitution was amended with a 62% majority to explicitly include same-sex couples.
- Luxembourg established civil unions without joint adoption rights in 2004. The government introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in July 2010. Ultimately, a bill legalizing gay marriage was passed in June 2014 and took effect at the beginning of 2015.
- Malta went from being one of the most socially conservative countries in Europe to legalizing gay marriage in September 2017. They now have the best LGBTQ rights in all of Europe.
- Mexico's same-sex marriage ban was struck down in December 2012. Different Mexican states legalized same-sex marriage at different times, but on 27 October 2022, Tamaulipas became the final state to recognize same-sex marriage, finally legalizing it nationwide.
- In 2023, the Supreme Court of Nepal ordered the Parliament to legalize same-sex marriage. The first same-sex marriage was performed on 29 November 2023.
- The Netherlands became the first nation to grant same-sex marriages in April 2001. They are not granted, however, in the other constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (i.e. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten), though these countries must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
- New Zealand legalized same-sex marriage on April 17, 2013, with the first marriages being performed on August 19, 2013. The legislation bill that legalized same-sex marriage also granted adoption rights to same-sex couples.
- Norway legalized same-sex marriage on June 12, 2008 (effective January 1, 2009). They also made adoption easier for same-sex couples, and made lesbian couples eligible for state-funded fertility drugs.
- Portugal legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, with the relevant bill coming into effect on June 5th.
- In Slovenia, a law that would legalize gay adoption and even out hetero- and homosexual partnerships was put to a referendum in 2015 that failed by a margin of 63%-37%. In 2016, however, a law recognizing civil unions was passed. Later, a 2022 court ruling made them the first eastern European country to legalize gay marriage.
- South Africa legalized same-sex marriages in 2006 following an earlier ruling by the country's constitutional court. Also, in 2020, a law banned marriage officers from refusing to conduct same-sex marriage.
- Spain allowed full marriage rights for same-sex couples in June 2005, despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.
- Sweden legalized gay marriages on May 1, 2009.
- Switzerland established civil unions on January 1st, 2007. A referendum on full marriage equality passed on September 26, 2021 and came into effect starting on July 1, 2022.
- The top court in Taiwan ruled on May 24, 2017 that same-sex marriage being banned was unconstitutional, and that if not legalized within two years of the ruling, it would become legal automatically.
- The United Kingdom instituted "civil partnerships", restricted to same-sex couples, on 5 December 2005, which had identical rights and responsibilities to civil marriage under all Marriage Acts since 1836, except that you were not allowed to call them "marriages", or have them solemnized in a religious ceremony. The law was further changed for England and Wales in July 2013 so that same sex couples could have marriages, though religious organizations will not be forced to perform or recognize them. The first such weddings were legal from 29 March 2014 in the England and Wales. Scotland legalized gay marriage by the end of the same year. On 13 January 2020, Northern Ireland legalized gay marriage as well. Additionally, it has been legalized in the Crown Dependencies of Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Guernsey, and Jersey since 2016, 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively.
- Uruguay's president signed a law permitting same-sex marriages on May 3, 2013, and it took effect on August 5 of that year.
The United States
In a little more than five years, the United States of America went from being a nation where same-sex marriage was unthinkable to one in which it was the law of the land. In 2009 five states and the District of Columbia legalized same-sex marriage. Gradually, more states passed laws allowing marriage equality, and while some legal challenges to the movement were successful, it became obvious that the tide was turning in favor of same-sex marriage. On 26 June 2015, the Supreme Court laid the issue to rest in a 5-4 ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. According to a 2021 Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who support same sex marriage has been growing and is higher than ever before! Roughly 70% of Americans now favor same sex marriage (including over half of Republicans). However, gay marriage is still banned in American Samoa and a handful of Native American reservations.
|Timeline for the U.S.|
- China has typically been very conservative on this issue and refused to recognize gay marriage, however, by 2020 there have been a few signs that the government may be reconsidering its stance on the issue, including publicly acknowledging a petition to legalize same-sex marriage and allowing a lesbian kiss in the movie Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to be shown in theaters when usually any traces of homosexuality are censored. Currently, they have "mutual guardianship appointments", which can provide limited rights to gay couples.
- Greece started recognizing same-sex civil unions in December of 2015.
- Hungary began to recognize same-sex registration on July 1, 2009. However, the new constitution passed under the Orbán government explicitly bans same-sex marriage.
- In India, marriage laws can be quite confusing, as Indian law allows citizens to choose which customs apply to them and none of the federal laws explicitly define marriage as being between a man and a woman, but nevertheless, these laws are almost always enforced in a heteronormative way. Only a single same-sex marriage has been fully recognized by the Indian government, when they were able to prove that their marriage fit all the legal requirements for one. A number of federal court cases have been held over the issue in recent years, but progress has been slow.
- Israel has recognized marriages granted in other countries since 2006. However, a bill to legalize same sex marriage inside of Israel failed in May 2012. The main reason gay marriages are not legally performed in Israel is that the Supreme Court claim that it is not a fundamental human right. A 2018 poll claimed that the majority of Israeli citizens support same-sex marriage.
- Italy is the last major holdout of recognizing same-sex marriage in Western Europe, though civil unions have been legal since 2016.
- Japan conferred all rights of married couples to gay couples married outside of Japan, if one of the partners is a legal citizen or resident of that foreign country on March 27, 2009. So a Japanese couple can't go to Sweden just to get married, but if one of them is a Swede, Japan will recognize the marriage and give them the legal status of marriage for all government-related issues. Some jurisdictions (e.g. Ōsaka) issue "partnership certificates" which allow for shared renting and hospital visitation rights but lack inheritance and parental rights. A court ruling in 2021 ruled Japan's ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional, however a 2022 ruling overturned this.
- A 2023 court ruling in Namibia determined that they must recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad.
- Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death, has one of the most unusual systems around gay marriage. Same-sex marriage is of course illegal, but going through gender reassignment surgery is not and is even partially paid for by the government, and a marriage between a trans woman and a cis man would be legal. For this reason, homosexuals have often been pressured to change their gender in Iran, even when they're not trans.
- In Nigeria, same-sex marriage is banned by the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act that was passed in 2013, although the law is so incoherent that it has proven difficult to enforce. Still, with Nigeria's harsh laws against LGBT people and prevailing social attitudes, it will likely be a while before any real progress is made.
- In Pakistan, gay marriage is illegal. The first two people who tried (allegedly as a joke) were immediately arrested.
- In the Philippines, gay marriage is banned despite a majority of the population being supportive of homosexuality. At first there was some hope that Rodrigo Duterte of all people might help liberalize the country's laws on gay rights, as he had supported gay marriage on the campaign trail, but of course he quickly backtracked. A 2019 Supreme Court ruling reaffirmed the country's ban on same-sex marriage.
- Poland has in recent years become one of the most fervent opponents of gay marriage, with it and Hungary being the main reasons why the European Union can't really do anything to push for LGBTQ+ rights.
- In Russia, thanks to a certain homophobe, gay marriage is constitutionally banned.
- Saudi Arabia still does not recognize same-sex marriage. Actually, same-sex sex is a capital crime there.
- South Korea still doesn't recognize gay marriage or even civil unions, and there are currently few signs of improvement in that regard, with an expanded definition of families passed in 2021 even explicitly excluding homosexuals.
- In Ukraine, same-sex marriage is explicitly banned by the constitution, which defines marriage as a union of a woman and a man, since its adoption in 1996. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he couldn't change the constitution in the middle of an ongoing war, but his government will look into recognizing same-sex civil partnerships.
- Vietnam allows people to hold same-sex weddings, but they receive no recognition from the federal government.
Same-sex marriage resistance
Same-sex marriage resistance is when a civil servant refuses to execute his or her duties regarding same-sex marriage.
Since the instigation of same-sex marriage in 2001, civil servants have been able to refuse to marry same-sex couples in the Netherlands, but every municipality was required to guarantee that same-sex couples were able to marry. In 2012 there were a total of 88 servants working in 48 counties who refused to issue licenses.
This has always been a controversial issue and heated debate flared up in 2007 and 2009. Since November 1st, 2014, all new civil servants are required to marry same-sex couples, although civil servants hired before this date can still refuse.
Kim Davis was the county clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky (population: 23,655+) She became a martyr for the Christian right for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the US Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
Davis decided she simply could not sleep with herself at night if she allowed the local homos to get married. After a court order, a lawsuit, and being jailed for five days in contempt of court, she was released after her deputies agreed to begin issuing marriage licenses to all eligible couples, in compliance with the Supreme Court's decision, on the condition that she not interfere with the issuance of such licenses. Davis subsequently removed all mention of her county, her name, and the signature line from forms issued only to homosexual couples, thus interfering with the issuing of valid marriage licenses.
In an ironic twist, David Ernold, the gay man who was denied a marriage license by her, took it upon himself to run against her in the then-upcoming election. She was voted out of office in favor of Elwood Caudill Jr. (Democrat) on 6 November, 2018, after David Ermold lost the primary to him in May 2018.
Another instance of this happening was in Alabama. Couples needed marriage licenses in order to be married, but the law only said that probate judges "may" give out marriage licenses, which resulted in many probate judges refusing to hand out marriage licenses at all just so they didn't have to give out licenses to same-sex couples. In 2019, Alabama finally abolished this loophole.
Many major religious denominations are opposed to gay marriage, but some have decided that God's love includes LGBT people. This has particular relevance for LGBT+ people of religion wishing to marry in church/temple/etc, but can have an influence on wider society. This lists those which offer genuine marriage equality, while shitty compromises are in a separate section.
- US Episcopal Church, a branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion; after varying permissions across states, it allowed same-sex marriage across the church in 2018.
- Scottish Episcopal Church, a branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, since 2017.
- Church of Scotland, but only those ministers who approve, since 2022.
- The Methodist Church in England and Wales decided in favor in 2021.
- Liberal Judaism in the UK supports marriage regardless of gender.
- Among members of the Religious Society of Friends, both Friends of Britain Yearly Meeting and Ireland Yearly Meeting support same-sex marriage. In fact, both Yearly Meetings campaigned for legalisation of same sex marriage in both the UK and Ireland. 
- Roman Catholicism. It has also rejected attempts by liberal clergy to bless same-sex civil unions.
- Russian Orthodox church.
- Church of England and many other sub-churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
- Southern Baptist Convention.
- Most branches of Orthodox Judaism are firmly opposed. However, some Orthodox rabbis differ.
- The Church in Wales, a branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, will not marry LGBT people but will bless civil marriages and civil unions.
- In Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis accepts civil same-sex marriage but won't perform religious same-sex marriage.
- Note that the term "gay marriage" is technically less accurate, because the participants in a same-sex marriage are not necessarily gay: one or both could be bisexual, pansexual etc.
- Ironic, considering the Oxford English Fucking Dictionary did exactly that.
- Bryan Fischer even calls it sodomy-based marriage.
- Namely Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the UK (performed in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as the Crown Dependencies of Isle of Man, Gibraltar and the Channel Islands), the United States, and Uruguay.
- Prior to the beginning of legalization of gay marriage in the US (Massachusetts in 2004), about 30% of Americans supported legalization. By the time the Supreme Court got around to ruling gay marriage as a Constitutional right in 2015, 55% of Americans agreed that it should be legal. By 2018, the percentage had risen to 67%. Thus, a clear majority of Americans support gay marriage.
- Remember the First Amendment?
- Some excellent examples can be found in the comments of The Punch's article "Give the Coalition time and they’ll vote for gay marriage"
- And it actually happens — though it is doubtful that these are legally recognized in any meaningful way.
- It doesn't help that there are people who would answer "yes" to that.
- Such as this 30-year analysis by the American Academy of Pediatrics, with the slight caveat that studies regarding same-sex parenting are observational (because ethics) and tend to be small (because smaller number of same-sex parents).
- This can be proved with extremely bad statistics; There's a lot of lesbian porn out there, there are lots of homophobes out there. Ergo, the two groups must overlap somewhere.
- There have been cases where anti-gay/homophobic t-shirt slogans were prohibited in schools, but the action was fought on grounds of religious expression.
- And then the religious people will go back to the claim that same-sex marriage hurts people, and the cycle goes ad infinitum.
- "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious beliefs and opinions, they may with practices." From the Supreme Court's decision in Reynolds v. United States, 1878.
- See, e.g., Gooding v. Wilson (405 U.S. 518) (applying the First Amendment to strike down statutes that prohibit "abusive" language, and protecting such language so long as it does not present a clear and present danger).
- And this is coming from the people who decry playing God.
- In Romer v. Evans, the Supreme Court did address discrimination against homosexuals, and struck it down on equal protection grounds… however, this did not add any new rights to couples, or remove existing barriers. Instead, it merely prevented the state of Colorado from erecting new barriers.
- A concurring opinion by Sandra Day O'Connor did argue the law in question should be struck down under the Equal Protection Clause, though it rejected the Due Process argument and would have upheld any anti-sodomy law that applied equally to heterosexual and homosexual couples. The other eight justices rejected this claim, however.
- "Dicta" is by-the-way argumentation presented in an opinion, not necessary to the underlying holding or the critical legal issue being resolved. An example would be, in an opinion holding a defendant liable for tort damages, the court discussing a theory of tort recovery not relied upon in the case. Dicta don't provide precedent; they are, however, illuminating and can be used to form a persuasive case, if not relied upon as the entirety of that case.
- Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (defining the standard for substantive due process claims, and stating that fundamental rights are due strict scrutiny).
- 400 Mass. 309 (Marshall, Chief Justice, for the Court).
- Canada has not yet been destroyed by God as an example unto others.
- Doré, Louis (June 3, 2015). "Presenting one of the worst arguments ever against same-sex marriage. Seriously". The Independent.
- McCormick, Joseph (June 2, 2015). "Australian commentator: We shouldn’t approve gay marriage because Irish people "can't grow potatoes"". PinkNews.
- Marriage Equality Act Governor's Office of New York (archived from June 15, 2011).
- Oxford Dictionary says marriage definition will change to include gay people (24 Jul 2013) Gay Star News.
- Editorial: Kennedy vs. Catholicism (November 25, 2009) The Washington Times.
- Fischer: Sodomy Is ‘An Ugly Word Because It Describes Ugly Behavior’ by Kyle Mantyla (August 12, 2013 10:44 am) Right Wing Watch.
- Ford, Dana. Presbyterians vote to allow same-sex marriage. CNN, June 19, 2014.
- Rabbi Powers, Amber. Same-Sex Marriage. My Jewish Learning.
- Statement on Marriage and the Family. American Anthropological Association.
- Ancient Greek Lessons About Gay Marriage, Emily Wilson, Slate 22 September 2019
- Annals, Tacitus
- Callón, Carlos. Callón gaña o Vicente Risco de Ciencias Sociais cun ensaio sobre a homosexualidade na Idade Media (in Galician). Archived from the original at galiciae.com.
- "Elisa Sánchez Loriga". Archived from the original at unless-women.eu.
- Genetics, Ecology, and the Origins of Incest and Exogamy by Frank B. Livingstone (1969) Current Anthropology 10(1):45-61.
- Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Health Care Use and Expenditures in Sexual Minority Men: A Quasi-Natural Experiment by Mark L. Hatzenbuehler et al. (2012) American Journal of Public Health 102(2):285-291. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300382.
- Another reason to celebrate the legalisation of gay marriage in Sweden and Denmark: the drop in suicide rates (November 19, 2019)
- Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts by Julia Raifman et al. (2017) JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(4):350-356. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.4529
- David Cameron's Conservative party conference speech in full (5 Oct 2011 12.22 EDT) The Guardian.
- Catholic cardinal criticises gay marriages plan (March 4, 2012) BBC.
- How Many Gay Marriages End In Divorce? (February 10th, 2021) Pride Legal.
- Think Tank Reveals Gay Divorce Statistics & Same Sex Marriage Facts Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny.
- California Prop 8 Ruling (August 2010) Scribd.
- Law and Civil Rights PollingReport.com (archived from April 1, 2004).
- Law and Civil Rights PollingReport.com (archived from December 12, 2015).
- Law and Civil Rights PollingReport.com (archived from December 21, 2021).
- Give the Coalition time and they’ll vote for gay marriage by Alex Greenwich (January 3, 2012) The Punch (archived from January 8, 2012).
- 5 People Married to Inanimate Objects by Evann Gastaldo (Mar 12, 2010 11:26 AM CST) Newser.
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- Guernsey passes same-sex marriage law, Nick Duffy, PinkNews 21 September 2016
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- United States v. Windsor, 507 U.S. -- (2013)
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- Voorlichting Raad van State inzake gewetensbezwaarde trouwambtenaren. Rijksoverheid (archived).
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