Definitions, Quotes, Photos, You Tube
video, Two quotations about marriage,
and Present Restrictions
The acronym "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage.' We prefer this term over
others because it includes all marriages involving two persons of the same-sex whether the participants have a sexual orientation that is homosexual or bisexual.
However, search engines give preference to the term "gay marriage," even though often being "gay" excludes persons with a bisexual orientation. We reluctantly use the term "gay marriage" frequently to improve search engines' rating of this web site.
"LGBT" refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community:
"Lesbian" refers to women whose sexual orientation is homosexual. They are sexually attracted to other women.
"Gay" often refers to men whose sexual orientation is homosexual. They are sexually attracted to other men. However, sometimes "gay" is used to refer to the entire homosexual community.
"Transgender" is an adjective referring to transgender individuals: persons whose current gender identification differs from their birth-identified gender recorded on their birth certificate as a newborm. Most identify their gender as opposite to their birth-identified gender; some switch between male and female over time; some identify as being neither female nor male. We identify transgender persons by their current gender identification and use their preferred first names and personal pronouns. Occasonally, we use the pronoun "co" in place of "her," "she," "his" or "he" for those transgender persons who change their gender identity from time to time, or who do not currently identify as either male or female.
"Transsexual" is a noun that sometimes used in place of "Transgender individual." Sometimes it refers to transgender persons who regularly presents themselves in public as a gender different from their birth-identified gender, and who may have undergone gender-confirmation surgery.
Two contrasting SSM quotes to consider:
Each shows the great gulf that still exists over gay marriage in much of the world:
+ "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
Two photographs to look at:
Consider whether either of the following photographs upset you, and why.
A You Tube video to watch.
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.
Two general quotations concerning the nature of marriage:
Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980): He wrote the 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 was almost never enforced in modern times. This quotation is often incorporated into same-sex wedding ceremonies by same-sex couples or their allies:
"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 [Court's] prior decisions." 17
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (1936-): A passage from his majority ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on 2015-JUN-26 that legalized gay marriages across the U.S.:
"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The [U.S.] Constitution grants them that right.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered." 18
The reference to love that endures past death referred to the marriage of John Obergefell and John Arthur who flew to Maryland in 2013 and were married on the airport tarmac. Arthur was dying of ALS at the time. John launched a lawsuit to have himself recognized as the surviving spouse on Arthur's death certificate by the state of Ohio. Surrounded by reporters after the ruling was issued, he said:
""I'm looking forward to a quiet night, to just let it sink in, and just quietly revel in the fact that I fought for my love, and we won."
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 sometimes seemed to have eclipsed even concerns over abortion access. Like abortion, it is a complex topic. It is divisive, and not readily amenable to compromise. In the U.S., a state, territory or district decides the definition of 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 married 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 often 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, also valid.
In 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Loving v. Virginia, inter-racial marriages were not allowed in sixteen contiguous states -- 32% of the states. All were in the south-east quadrant of the country. The Court overturned these bans. 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. Support is now about 63% in favor of marriage equality.
Until mid-2013, the federal government ignored existing legal same-sex marriages because of sections of its Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). They withheld federal benefits that were routinely given to opposite-sex married 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 were suddenly recognized also by the federal government. They instantly gained access to 1,138 federal programs, benefits, and protections that they had previously been denied. 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 still banned.
The U.S. Supreme Court consolidated appeals of state marriage laws from four states. On 2015-JUN-26, the Justices 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! The only exception was the Territory of American Samoa. The territorial population is normally considered American Residents and not American Citizens. Thus, the rulings of the High Court are not necessarily recognized there.
As of 2017-DEC, about 25 out of the 195 countries in the world had legalized gay marriages. By late 2020, this had grown to 29 to 31 countries. (sources differ). The first countries to take this step were: