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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage in the United States: 1990 to 2015.

Part 2 of 2
An overview of the major events
leading towards marriage equality in
North America & the rest of the world.

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In this web site, LGBT refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender
persons and transsexuals. SSM refers to same-sex marriage

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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  • 2015-MAR: Webmaster's speculation about the future of SSM in the U.S.:

    I speculated that of all the possible decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court during late June or early July, the following four are the most likely. I have listed them in order of my estimate of decreasing probability:

    • Make marriage available to same-sex couples across the entire United States in the same way that marriages are available to opposite-sex couples. This would be similar to the precedent set by the high court in Loving v. Virginia during 1967 when it overturned bans against interracial marriage in 16 states. This was the option actually taken by the High Court by a 5 to 4 majority on 2015-JUN-26.

    • Allow states to legalize or ban same-sex marriages as they wish, but require all jurisdictions to recognize marriages solemnized out-of-state. This would make marriage available to same-sex couples just like marriage is available to opposite-sex couples who are first cousins: the latter are allowed to marry in some states but not in others. But once legally married in a state, their marriages are generally recognized everywhere.

    • Give individual states the options of providing or banning same-sex marriage within their borders, and refusing to recognize or recognizing same-sex marriages solemnized out-of-state.

    • Make same-sex marriages unavailable anywhere within the United States and forcibly divorce existing same-sex married couples.

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  • 2015-JUN-26: Trailing Canada by almost exactly a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court announced their decision in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. The court gave same-sex couples access to marriage on the same basis as opposite-sex couples across all 50 states. The Justices based their decision on the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
    • Religious, social, and constitutional liberals and moderates generally agreed with the majority on the court: That the 10th Amendment requires federal, state, district, territorial, and local governments to treat people equally. Since qualified opposite-sex couples are universally able to marry, the court concluded that qualified same-sex couples must be also permitted to marry. This is exactly the same justification as the High Court provided in 1967 when it decided that such governments must allow qualified interracial couples to marry.

    • Religious, social, and constitutional conservatives generally accused the U.S. Supreme Court of contradicting God's Laws, violating the U.S. Constitution, and substituting their own personal liberal ideology. They often refer to the Supreme Court's decision granting same-sex couples equality with opposite-sex couples in marriage as "judicial tyranny."

      Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court criticized the High Court ruling for elevating an "infamous crime" to a civil right. He said:

      "How do they come out now and say that marriage, which is ordained by God, doesn’t mean what it’s always meant, between a man and woman? Not between two men, two women, or three women and one man. See, they don’t have a definition. They’ve just destroyed the institution of God." 4

      Chief Justice Moore may not be aware of the many men who are mentioned in the Bible who practiced polygyny. This is one of types of polygamy in which a man marries two or more women. A literal translation is that the men "become the master of the woman" as often as he desired and could afford. In Genesis 4:19, Lamech became the first known polygamist when he took two wives. Subsequent men who took multiple wives included: Esau with 3 wives; Jacob: 2; Ashur: 2; Gideon: many; Elkanah: 2; David: many; Solomon: 700 wives of royal birth; Rehaboam: 3; and Abijah: 14. Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar also had multiple wives.

    Many in the American South felt that the High Court''s ruling in Loving v. Virginia in 1967 also violated God's intention for marriage. That ruling legalized interracial marriage in the 16 contiguous states of the American Southeast from Texas to Florida to Virginia where such marriages were still banned . Many in these states felt that God had created different races of humans, had placed them in different regions of Earth, and expected them to remain separate. The fight against marriage equality by race continued for a few years.

    Meanwhile, many individuals and groups who oppose marriage equality are concerned about being considered bigots in the future. This is what happened after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriages. It will probably occur again if opposition to same-sex marriages continues.

  • 2015-SEP: There are 3,144 counties and county equivalents in the United States. Within three months of the High Court's decision, qualified U.S. same-sex couples were generally able to pick up marriage licenses from their local county clerk with the following exceptions:

    • In Rowan County, KY, Clerk Kim Davis was still not authorizing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. However, several deputy clerks in her office are routinely issued them.

    • Also in Kentucky, clerks in Casey and Whitley counties were refusing to issue marriage licenses to all couples -- whether same-sex or opposite-sex. This is a minor inconvenience to couples trying to obtain a marriage license; they can simply drive to one of the remaining counties in Kentucky where clerks are obeying the High Court's ruling.

    • In about seven counties of Alabama, employees are refusing to issue licenses to all couples. Again most applicants can easily drive to an adjoining county and obtain their licenses there.

In the remaining 99.7% of counties in the U.S., qualified same-sex couples can routinely obtain marriage licenses from their local county clerk. That is a very significant victory for equal rights for persons of all sexual orientation who wish to marry. The remaining approximately nine clerks who continue to refuse to issue licenses may well change their mind if they are sued by couples and are assessed with massive fines.

Due to the special status of the population of American Samoa -- one of three U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean -- citizens may or may not be entitled to obtain licenses to marry otherwise qualified same-sex persons. The Government of the Territory has been trying to clarify the situation since early July.

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2008 until now: Same-sex marriage (SSM) in U.S. tribal jurisdictions:

The oral history of many Native American tribes describe persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation very positively. 1

Some Native American jurisdictions that have been formally recognized by the U.S. Government have decided that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. These include the:

  • Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma,
  • Coquille Tribe in Oregon,
  • Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington State,
  • Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan,
  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota,
  • Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan,
  • Mashantucket Pequot in Connecticut,
  • Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan,
  • Puyallup in Washington state,
  • Santa Ysabel Tribe in California,
  • Suquamish tribe in Washington State, and
  • Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. 2

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Same-sex marriage outside of North America:

Countries around the world treat relationships by same-sex couples very differently. 3

  • Laws in some countries around the world respond negatively to same-gender sexual behavior:
    • The BBC News World reported in early 2014 that homosexual behavior is still punishable by the death penalty "in five countries and in parts of two others." All appear to be predominately Muslim countries.

    • An additional 70 countries punish such couples with prison sentences of various durations, and/or physical beatings.

    • Some more countries are only mildly intrusive. For example, they might impose a different age of consent for same-gender and opposite-gender sexual activity.

  • At the other extreme about 18 countries have legalized marriage by same-sex couples. This includes most of the states in the United States, Canada's 10 provinces and 3 territories, many states in Mexico, most of South America, as well as most of Western Europe and almost all the major English-speaking countries in the world including England and Wales, New Zealand, and Scotland, Major debates are continuing in Australia, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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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. To Giago, "Native Americans and Homosexuality," Huffington Post, 2012-DEC-10, at:
  2. "Same-sex marriage under United States tribal jurisdictions," Wikipedia, as on 2015-FEB-24, at:
  3. "Where is it illegal to be gay?" BBC News World, 2014-FEB-10, at:
  4. Bob Unruh, "Supremes 'destroyed institution of God," WND, 2015-JUL-14, at:
  5. "County (United States)

Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > here

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Copyright © 2005  to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2005-MAR-09
Latest update: 2015-OCT-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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