Homosexuality and bisexuality
Same-sex marriages (SSM), civil unions,
domestic partnerships & other human
issues affecting same-sex couples.
Currently, the most active U.S. religious conflict.
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage."
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
Disclaimer: Please read.
We recommend that visitors to this web site not make any personal decisions based on the following information -- including other essays linked to this menu -- without first checking accuracy with independent sources. The status of same-sex marriage in the 50 states is in extreme flux and can change daily.
A quotation concerning marriage:
Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980): A passage from his ruling for the majority in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Griswold v. Connecticut, dated 1965-JUN. This was the first ruling that guaranteed individual right to privacy, at least for married couples. It overturned a state law that criminalized the use of contraceptives. The law had been passed in 1879 and almost never enforced. This quotation is often incorporated into same-sex wedding ceremonies:
"We deal with a right to privacy older than the Bill of Rights — older than our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions."
Some current really "hot topics" about same-sex marriage (SSM):
SSM appears to be the most prominent religious conflict in the U.S. today, surpassing even abortion access.
Worldwide SSM status as of 2013-APR:
The redefinition of marriage to include loving, committed same-sex couples is a major decision being made by a growing and accelerating number states in the U.S. and by other countries.
As of 2014-MAR-01, 17 countries have legalized SSM. The latest is Scotland whose parliament modified its marriage law on 2014-FEB-04. That leaves Australia, Ireland, and Northern Ireland as the only two large English speaking areas that have not taken this step. Debate is active in both countries. In addition, two countries have attained marriage equality in some but not all states: the United States and Mexico.
California, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania are the most recent U.S. states to legalize SSM, bringing the total to 19 states and the District of Columbia. A number of federal District Courts have legalize SSM in their state or required their state to recognize marriages solemnized by same-sex couples in other states. However, these court decisions are all stayed pending appeals to Circuit Courts of Appeal. Stays currently prevent same-sex couples from marrying. See below. Dozens of lawsuits are active in other states.
The countries that do not yet allow same-sex marriages are outlined shown in gray, but are missing in some browsers. Sorry about that.
Since the map was made:
Aspects of same-sex marriage (SSM) discussed in this section:
SSM is very controversial. The central government in almost every other country is responsible for defining marriage eligibility. In the U.S. marriage is defined at the state level. This means a total of 52 separate battles -- one in each of 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government.
The status of SSM In the U.S. as of 2014-NOV-01 is:
- Marriage licenses are routinely available and marriages routinely registered for same-sex couples in 32 states and the District of Columbia. About 65% of Americans live in a political jurisdiction where same-sex couples can marry. The states are: AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV & WY. Adding the District of Columbia makes a total of 33 political jurisdictions with marriage equality.
- Same-sex marriage (SSM):
- Is still banned by constitutional amendments in two states [KS & SC] in spite of rulings by in the 4th or 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal that have legalized SSM in these states by legal precedence.
- Is still forbidden by state constitutional amendments in 16 other states [AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, OH, SD, TN, & TX]. In many of these states, courts have issued rulings overturning the constitutional bans. However, same-sex couples still cannot marry there because of judicial stays.
- Was once forbidden by state legislation in three states. None of these statutes remain active.
- Bans are being challenged by at least one lawsuit in federal or state courts in every state where bans are still active.
- Prohibiting same-sex marriage seems to have assumed greater importance recently among religious and social conservatives than even restricting women's access to abortion. Part of the opposition is due to beliefs promoted by some conservative faith groups about the nature of sexual orientation. Some common beliefs are:
- That everyone is born heterosexual but that some people choose to become gay or lesbian later in life;
- That homosexuality is an addiction similar to drug dependence or alcoholism. Once some people try same-gender sexual activity, they become "hooked"on it.
- That children who are sexually abused by adults of the same gender are much more likely to become gay or lesbian during their teen or early adult years.
- That adults who engage in same-gender sexual activity can become heterosexual through prayer and therapy;
- That abusive pedophilia -- adults sexually molesting pre-pubertal children -- is much more common among gays and lesbians than among heterosexuals.
- That children raised in families headed by a same-sex couple do not thrive as well as children raised by an opposite-sex couple.
All of the above are denied by numerous professional mental health organizations like the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, etc. and by human sexuality researchers. Unfortunately, little or no dialogue is occurring among these associations and faith groups to resolve their differences. They remain far apart on fundamental understanding of sexual orientation.
Additional religious beliefs commonly found among conservative faith groups are:
- That all persons who engage in same-gender sexual activity will spend eternity after death in Hell. This belief often causes great emotional pain to the LGBT community as well as parents of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals.
- That homosexual behavior is hated by God.
- That if same-sex marriage becomes more common in the U.S. that God will retaliate at some point by causing one or more horrendous natural disasters as he did at Sodom and Gomorrah, and later during the time of Noah, with great loss of life. 2 Fear of God's punishment is a main motivator among many religious conservatives which causes them to strongly oppose SSM.
- Defining eligibility for marriage in the U.S. is done on a state-by-state basis. However, many recent court rulings have determined that those states that have banned same-sex marriage through legislation and/or by amending their constitution have violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. These states can expect to have same-sex marriage eventually legalized by rulings of one of their federal District Courts because of these violations.
- Since 2011, national polls have regularly showed that most Americans favor legalizing SSM. Support is increasing, and opposition is dropping, each by 1 to 2 percentage points/year.
- Previous to 2012, referendums in two states terminated SSMs: California in 2008 and Maine in 2009. These votes temporarily prevented new SSMs. They were passed with about a 6 percentage point margin. The most recent referendums on SSM were held on 2012-NOV-06 to restore SSM in Maine, and legalize SSM in Maryland, and Washington State. All three states legalized SSM with about a 5 percentage point margin. Overall gain in margin over four years was about 11 percentage points.
- The movement towards equal rights and benefits for same-sex couples appears to be accelerating. It is at least partly caused by a generational shift: The vast majority of teens support marriage equality. Most senior citizens still oppose marriage equality, but are leaving the voter pool because of disability or death.
- A large and growing percentage of the adult population believes that marriage equality is inevitable.
- An increasing number of religious and social conservatives are diverting their energy away from preventing same-sex marriage. They are working harder to establish the right of individuals, companies and churches to actively discriminate against the LGBT community without running afoul of state human rights legislation. They promote this in the name of religious freedom. But it is not religious freedom in the historical meaning of the term, which includes the freedom of belief, freedom to assemble, freedom of religious speech, freedom to proselytize, etc. It is a recently emerged meaning for religious freedom: the religiously-based freedom to oppress and discriminate against others. Few seem to realize that the ethic of reciprocity -- a.k.a. Golden Rule -- requires Christians and followers of other religions to do the exact opposite.
Elsewhere in the world, the most recent governments to pass SSM legislation were England and Wales, France, New Zealand, and Scotland. That leaves Australia, Ireland, and Northern Ireland as the only large, predominately English speaking countries that do not allow same-sex marriage. Debate is active in all three countries.
Topics covered in this section:
Background material: <<< Please read some of these essays first!
History and current status of SSM and civil unions:
||Harms resulting from:
||Health benefits resulting from SSM
||Quotations showing the diversity of beliefs
||Affects of Religion and race on attitudes towards SSM:
||Laws in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world:
||Public opinion polls:
||Legal developments affecting SSM, civil unions, etc. in the U.S.:
||LGBT news items 1996 to 2010
||The status of governments' recognition of same-sex relationships as of mid-2005 with links to later developments
Recognition that same-sex relationship seems to have reached a tipping point on 2011-FEB-23
||Within Native American Nations:
On 2014-OCT-01, inter-faith, interracial, inter-nationality marriages were, and remain, recognized everywhere in the U.S. However, same-sex marriages are treated very differently. By this date, they had been legalized in only 19 states and the District of Columbia, as a result of voter plebiscites, legislative activities, or court rulings. Same-sex marriage had been approved by recent court decisions in some additional states, but many had been stayed pending appeals to higher courts. See above.
On 2014-OCT-06, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to not review four rulings that dealt with marriage equality that were issued by three U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal . This quickly added five new states to the places where marriage licenses are available to same-sex couples. It also set up six additional states where marriages should have been made available. These are states that are under the jurisdiction of these same three U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. Kansas and South Carolina are in this group. They initially resisted this precedent but were forced to comply by late November.
In those states where same-sex marriage is not allowed, there are many lawsuits active -- including at least one in every state -- attempting to attain marriage equality. Unless same-sex marriage becomes available everywhere in the U.S., married same-sex couples have to be very careful where they live and to where they travel. A medical emergency can become a life-or-death matter very quickly if they are in one of the states shown below as dark or light blue state at the time.
As of 2014-NOV-21, the most recent changes in marriage status have involved three states that have changed from red (SSM banned) to black (SSM legal):
- Kansas was 34th state to attain marriage equality on 2014-NOV-13. However, only some counties allow same-sex marriage.
- Montana was 35th state to attain marriage equality on 2014-NOV-19.
- South Carolina was 36th state to attain marriage equality on 2014-NOV-20.
That leaves 14 states that still have not attained marriage equality. This differs by one from the graphic above because we count the state of Missouri as attaining marriage equality even though same-sex marriage licenses are only available in some counties.
Past history and current status of same-sex marriage (SSM) and civil unions in various states:
The following list is believed to be accurate as of 2014-NOV-01 following a major ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on 2014-OCT-06.
As of OCT-21, same-sex couples can routinely marry in 32 states and in the District of Columbia. Two very conservative states are resisting the implications of the high-court ruling: Kansas and South Carolina. Federal courts are forced marriage equality in these states by late November.
By NOV-20, same-sex marriage is expected to remain unavailable in 16 states, mostly in the Deep South and Midwest as shown above. At least one lawsuit is active in each of these states to attain marriage equality. This is very similar to the situation regarding interracial marriages prior to a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize such marriages in across the entire U.S. in 1957.
The vast majority of Americans now believe that marriage equality is inevitable across the U.S. in the near future. Non-profit groups who are either promoting or resisting marriage for same-sex couples are now beginning to shift their emphasis away from preventing marriage equality in the remaining states where it is not available. They are now promoting and resisting the gutting of state and local human rights legislation so that individuals and public accommodations who have religious freedom objections to marriage equality will be able to actively discriminate against same-sex couples with immunity from such legislation. Such discrimination violates one of the main tenets of their faith -- the Golden Rule. However, this conflict is generally ignored and rarely discussed.
* As of 2014-NOV-22, same-sex couple can marry in 36 states and Washington DC.
Most Americans live in a location that has attained marriage equality.
** In addition, in 7 states, federal District Courts or state courts have legalized SSM but those decisions are stayed pending appeals to a higher court:
- In 3 states -- Arkansas, Michigan, Texas -- state or federal courts have legalized same-sex marriage, but their rulings have been stayed, pending appeals to higher courts.
- In two states -- Kentucky and Tennessee -- District Court rulings have required their state to recognize same-sex marriages made in other states.
- In two states:
- In Ohio, a District Court ruled that a person who married a spouse of the same sex in an out-of-state marriage can have their married state acknowledged, but only on her or his Ohio death certificate.
- In Indiana a District Court released a temporary restraining order requiring the state to recognize the marriage of a single specified couple who were married out of state. This was issued on compassionate grounds because one spouse is terminally ill.
We believe that these two states are the only place in the world where the act of dying causes one's marriage to be recognized.
++ In four states, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, federal District Courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality, but the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals reversed their rulings. All four cases have been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court!
In five states, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin, three-judge panels from the 4th, 7th and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal had upheld District Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage. All four lawsuits were appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On 2014-OCT-06, the Supreme Court refused to accept these appeals. That means that same-sex marriage became legal in all of these five states. Marriage equality was also attained in six additional states over which the three Circuit Courts have jurisdiction. Four of the six states complied and started to issue marriage licenses quickly. In two states, same-sex marriage should be legal because of the Supreme Court's decision. However, the governor and/or attorney general resisted marriage equality. These were: Kansas and South Carolina, These two states were forced to comply with their Circuit Court's ruling, raising the total number of political jurisdictions where same-sex couples are be able to freely marry to 37 (36 states and the District of Columbia).
Status of SSM elsewhere in the world:
As of 2013-JUN-01, seventeen countries have legalized SSM everywhere within their borders, including: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England and Wales, France, Iceland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Scotland, Sweden, and Uruguay. Also, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States have legalized SSM in some states, but not in others.
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The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Gay marriage: MPs back legislation ," BBC News, 2013-FEB-05, at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/
- See the Bible, Genesis 19, in which God is said to have killed the elderly, adults, youth, children, and infants of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the unsuccessful attempt by men to rape male angels who were visiting Sodom.
- "Of Marriage and Divorce," Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 26, Section 6.135, at: http://www.ccel.org/ or http://www.sacred-texts.com
- Philip Pullella, "Gay marriage, abortion new forms of evil: Pope," The Toronto Star, 2005-FEB-23, Page A14.
- "Stew" posting a response to "Dispatches from the Culture Wars" bulletin board on the topic "Canada paves the way for gay marriage,"
on 2004-DEC-09. See: http://www.stcynic.com/
- "Spanish pro-family leader decries government policies,"
Catholic World News, 2005-JUN-20, at: http://www.cwnews.com/
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Ministry to
persons with a homosexual inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care,"
2006-NOV-14, at: http://www.usccb.org/ This is a PDF file.
- Cynthia Needham, "Hearing revives R.I.'s gay-marriage debate,"
Rhode Island News, 2009-MAY-13, at: http://www.projo.com/
- Jim Burroway, "About Us: The Tale of the Box Turtle." Box Turtle
Bulletin, 2007-JAN-09, at: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/
- Nathan Black, "Christians need to prepare for same-sex marriage," Christian Post, 2011-FEB-26, at: http://www.christianpost.com
- Michael Pearson, "Maryland Senate approves same-sex marriage bill," CNN, 2012-FEB-23, at: http://www.cnn.com/
- Elizabeth Chuck, "Where Same-Sex Marriage Stands in the 50 States," NBC News, 2914-MAY-20, at: http://www.nbcnews.com/
- Copied from the Wikipedia web site from an original uploaded by Lokal_Profil. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attributio-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/
Copyright © 1997 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-NOV-20
Author: B.A. Robinson