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Religious Tolerance logo

Lesbian, gay, & bisexual topics

Part 1 of 2 parts.

All about gay marriages (aka. same-sex
marriages & SSM), and civil unions and
domestic partnerships).

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The two solitudes:

same-sex marriage symbol

Marriage Project's symbol 1

Family Research Council's marriage symbol 2

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This essay in two parts gives background material about gay marriage (SSM) in the USA and worldwide
You might find it helpful before you proceed to our massive section that describes SSM in great detail.

In this web site, the acronym "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage.' These terms are preferable to
others because it is inclusive of same-sex marriages that include one or two bisexuals.
However, we reluctantly use the term "gay marriage" to improve search engines 'access to this web site.

In addition, "LGBT" refers to the
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community.

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Two contrasting quotes to consider, two photographs to look at, and a You Tube video to watch. Each shows the great gulf that still exists over gay marriage:

  • + "A loving man and woman in a committed relationship can marry. Dogs, no matter what their relationship, are not allowed to marry. How should society treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships? As dogs or as humans?" From an anonymous posting to an Internet mailing list.

  • - "It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man." Pope John Paul II, referring to same-sex marriage. 6

  • Consider whether either of the following photographs upset you, and why.

Picture of love; picture of hunger

  • This is a ten minute video from You Tube. It was published on 2012-MAY-06, and has been viewed over 5 million times! It had an important message to couples in same-sex relationships who remain unmarried for whatever reason. They should attempt to legally protect themselves and their relationship as much as possible.

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Past and present restrictions on marriage:

For some years, during the 2010's, same-sex marriage (SSM) was at or near the top of any list of leading religious/secular/political controversies in North America. It appeared to have eclipsed even concerns over abortion access. Like abortion access, it is a complex topic. It is divisive, and not readily amenable to compromise. However a state, territory or district decides to define marriage, a particular couple is either qualified to marry or excluded from marriage. No middle ground exists that is acceptable to the LGBT community; they seek equality with opposite-sex couples.

The U.S. Constitution does not mention marriage. This means that, automatically, the definition and regulation of marriage is left either:

  • to the individual states, territories, or district, or

  • to the public.

It is not practical to leave it to the public. If it were, then some couples who are brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, etc. would marry. Such couples would be consanguineous. -- they are closely related because they share a close common ancestor. Marriage would result in genetic problems among their children. For example, when first cousins marry, their children have twice the rate of genetic defects than do second cousins.

Even though the definition of marriage is left up to the states, etc., the U.S. Constitution places limits on whom that definition can exclude. The Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution requires federal, state, territorial, district, and local governments to treat people equally. Thus, they must treat couples equally as well, unless there is a very good reason why some couples should be treated differently. Among the 50 states, couples are -- or have been -- prohibited from marrying on various grounds:

  • Consanguinity -- being too closely related -- is one valid reason.

  • Being too young is another.

  • In 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Loving v. Virginia, inter-racial marriages were not allowed in 16 contiguous states. All were in the south-east quadrant of the country. The Court overturned the bans in all 16 states. The Justices reached this conclusion even though the vast majority (72%) of U.S. adults were opposed to legalizing interracial marriage at the time. At the time, a near majority of adults (48%) even favored criminal punishments for interracial couples who did marry.

  • Until 2011, most U.S. adults believed that same-sex couples should also be banned from marriage.

  • Until mid-2013, the federal government ignored legal same-sex marriages because of sections of its Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and withheld federal benefits that were routinely given to opposite-sex couples. On 2013-JUN-26, Section 3 of that act was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in a famous lawsuit Windsor v. United States. Overnight, legally married same-sex couples whose marriages were recognized where they lived suddenly were recognized by the federal government. They gained access to 1,138 federal programs, benefits, and protections that had previously been denied them. Perhaps of even greater importance, the majority ruling in Windsor contained arguments that other federal courts and state courts could use to justify the legalization of marriage equality. Within months, there was at least one lawsuit seeking marriage equality in every state where gay marriages were banned.

  • On 2015-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court issued their decision in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. Marriage became immediately legal for same-sex couples throughout the U.S., at least in principle if not in practice!

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This topic continues in Part 2 and then on to a truly
massive section covering gay marriage in great detail.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. National Freedom to Marry Day logos are available at:
  2. From the Family Research Council's Washington Update mailing list of 2003-OCT-8.
  3. Nima Reza, "Vermont Gay Marriage Begins Tuesday," CitizenLink daily update e-mail, 2009-AUG-31.
  4. Bob Livingston, "Gay marriage divides GOP," Personal Liberty Digest, 2009-JUN-03, at:
  5. John McCain, CNN newsroom transcript, 2007-FEB-11, at:
  6. Philip Pullella, "Gay marriage, abortion new forms of evil: Pope," The Toronto Star, 2005-FEB-23, Page A14.
  7. "The day that had to come: New York helps lead the way toward equality with vote on gay marriage," Buffalo News, 2011-JUN-28, at:

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > here

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Religious impact > here

Home > Religious conflicts > N.A. examples > here

or directly from,,,,,, or

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Copyright © 1997 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2017-JAN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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