From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Same-sex marriage, also known as gay marriage or equal marriage, is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex and/or gender identity. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage is sometimes referred to as marriage equality, particularly by supporters.
The first laws in modern times recognizing same-sex marriage were enacted during the first decade of the 21st century. As of March 2013, eleven countries (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden), and several sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Brazil, Mexico, and the United States), allow same-sex couples to marry. Bills allowing legal recognition of same-sex marriage have been proposed, are pending, or have passed at least one legislative house in Andorra, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Nepal, New Zealand, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay as well as in the legislatures of several sub-national jurisdictions (in Scotland as well as parts of Australia, Mexico, and the United States).
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, 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, be required to hold a different status (a civil union), or be denied recognition of such rights. Allowing same-gender couples to legally marry is considered to be one of the most important of all LGBT rights.
Same-sex marriages can be performed in a secular civil ceremony or in a religious setting. Various religious groups around the world conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies; for example: Quakers, Episcopalians, the Metropolitan Community Church, the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Canada, Reform and Conservative Jews, Wiccans, Druids, Unitarian Universalists and Native American religions with a two-spirit tradition.
Studies conducted in several countries indicate that support for the legal recognition of same-sex marriage increases with higher levels of education and that support is strong among younger people. Additionally, polls show that there is rising support for legally recognizing same-sex marriage globally across all races, ethnicities, ages, religions, political affiliations, socioeconomic statuses, etc.
Eleven countries (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden) allow same-sex couples to marry nationwide. Same-sex marriages are also performed and recognized in Mexico City, Quintana Roo, and parts of the United States; in Brazil, civil unions may be converted into marriage. Some jurisdictions that do not perform same-sex marriages but recognize it being performed elsewhere include: Israel, Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, Rhode Island in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, and, in at least one case, Uruguay.Australia recognizes same-sex marriages only if one partner has had gender reassignment therapy.
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.
Some organizations have described same-sex marriage as a universal human rights issue, equality before the law, and of normalizing LGBT relationships. Several authors attribute opposition to same-sex marriage as coming from homophobia or heterosexism and liken prohibitions on same-sex marriage to past prohibitions on interracial marriage between blacks and whites.
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