Why does change happen so slowly? Older folks tend to adopt their positions on social matters while young, and retain them throughout their life. Young people appear to be more accepting -- in this case of racial differences -- and gradually shift the culture's opinion as they mature and enter into positions of authority. They in turn are followed by other young people who are even more accepting. Thus, it takes decades to effect change.
Brief history of same-sex marriages and civil unions:
Same-sex marriages became available first to residents of the Netherlands. The Dutch lawmakers simply re-wrote their marriage laws so that couples of all sexual orientations can marry. This was followed by similar action in other countries, and in individual provinces, states, and cities around the world: North America, South America, Europe, and Africa.
As of 2011-FEB, about 40% of loving committed same-sex couples in the U.S. can have their relationships formally recognized by their state government, either by marrying, by entering into a civil union or by entering into a domestic partnership. Six political jurisdictions (District of Columbia and five states) permit same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships. However, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages -- even those legally solemnized in the District of Columbia and six or so states that allow SSM.
A battle has been in progress for years over whether equal rights and equal protection protection against discrimination and violent hate crimes should be extended to same-sex couples. Recently, this has expanded into the area of same-sex marriage. The core conflict is whether:
The number of people who oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians is far greater than the number of homosexuals. Few politicians are willing to alienate 50% of the population in order to extend equal rights to, say, 5%. Most of the change will probably have to come through the courts.
As of early 2011:
[Author's note: History has shown that once a discriminated-against group organizes and brings their demands for equal rights before the public, that equal rights are eventually granted. This has happened in the past with respect to slavery, racial segregation, women's suffrage, equal opportunities for women, inter-racial marriage, etc. Somehow society has adapted to the changes. It is likely that SSMs will follow this same path, eventually.
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