The introduction of same-sex marriage also called marriage equality has varied by jurisdiction, and came about through legislative change to marriage law , court rulings based on constitutional guarantees of equality, recognition that it is allowed by existing marriage law,  or by direct popular vote via referendums and initiatives. The recognition of same-sex marriage is considered to be a human right and a civil right as well as a political, social, and religious issue.
Polls consistently show continually rising support for the recognition of same-sex marriage in all developed democracies and in some developing democracies. Scientific studies show that the financial, psychological, and physical well-being of gay people are enhanced by marriage, and that the children of same-sex parents benefit from being raised by married same-sex couples within a marital union that is recognized by law and supported by societal institutions.
Opposition to same-sex marriage is based on claims such as that homosexuality is unnatural and abnormal, that the recognition of same-sex unions will promote homosexuality in society, and that children are better off when raised by opposite-sex couples. A study of nationwide data from across the United States from January to December revealed that the establishment of same-sex marriage is associated with a significant reduction in the rate of attempted suicide among children, with the effect being concentrated among children of a minority sexual orientation, resulting in approximately , fewer children attempting suicide each year in the United States.
Some proponents of legal recognition of same-sex marriage, such as Freedom to Marry and Canadians for Equal Marriage , use the terms marriage equality and equal marriage to indicate that they seek the recognition of same-sex marriage on equal ground with opposite-sex marriage as opposed to special rights. The AP Stylebook recommends the usage of the phrase marriage for gays and lesbians or the term gay marriage in space-limited headlines.
The Associated Press warns that the construct gay marriage can imply that the marriages of same-sex couples are somehow different from the marriages of opposite-sex couples. Anthropologists have struggled to determine a definition of marriage that absorbs commonalities of the social construct across cultures around the world. With several countries revising their marriage laws to recognize same-sex couples in the 21st century, all major English dictionaries have revised their definition of the word marriage to either drop gender specifications or supplement them with secondary definitions to include gender-neutral language or explicit recognition of same-sex unions.
Opponents of same-sex marriage, who want marriage to be restricted to heterosexuals, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , the Catholic Church , and the Southern Baptist Convention , use the term traditional marriage to mean opposite-sex marriage. Prominent figures in the civil rights movement have expressed their support for same-sex marriage. Virginia in , in which the Supreme Court of the United States struck down all state bans on inter-racial marriage , issued a statement on the 40th anniversary of the ruling in which she expressed her support for same-sex marriage and described it as a civil right akin to inter-racial marriage, stating that "I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry".
Hodges in which the Supreme Court of the United States struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, stating that "races don't fall in love, genders don't fall in love—people fall in love". The NAACP , the leading African-American civil rights organization, has pledged its support for gay rights and same-sex marriage, stating that they "support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution", and has declared that same-sex marriage is a civil right.
The Human Rights Campaign , the largest LGBT rights organization in the United States, states that "many same-sex couples want the right to legally marry because they are in love—many, in fact, have spent the last 10, 20 or 50 years with that person—and they want to honor their relationship in the greatest way our society has to offer, by making a public commitment to stand together in good times and bad, through all the joys and challenges family life brings. Journalist Gail Mathabane likens prohibitions on same-sex marriage to past prohibitions on interracial marriage in the United States.
Some of the opponents of same-sex marriage are religious groups such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , the Catholic Church , and the Southern Baptist Convention , all of which desire for marriage to remain restricted to opposite-sex couples. The American Anthropological Association stated on 26 February The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.
Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies. The establishment of same-sex marriage is associated with a significant reduction in the rate of attempted suicide among children, with the effect being concentrated among children of a minority sexual orientation. The researchers took advantage of the gradual manner in which same-sex marriage was established in the United States expanding from one state in to all fifty states in to compare the rate of attempted suicide among children in each state over the time period studied.
Once same-sex marriage was established in a particular state, the reduction in the rate of attempted suicide among children in that state became permanent. No reduction in the rate of attempted suicide among children occurred in a particular state until that state recognized same-sex marriage.
The lead researcher of the study observed that "laws that have the greatest impact on gay adults may make gay kids feel more hopeful for the future". Professional organizations of psychologists have concluded that children stand to benefit from the well-being that results when their parents' relationship is recognized and supported by society's institutions, e. For example, the Canadian Psychological Association stated in that "parents' financial, psychological and physical well-being is enhanced by marriage and that children benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally-recognized union.
The American Academy of Pediatrics concluded in , in an analysis published in the journal Pediatrics:. There is ample evidence to show that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents. More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents.
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The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families. In , a Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study examining the effects of institutional discrimination on the psychiatric health of lesbian, gay and bisexual LGB individuals found an increase in psychiatric disorders, including a more than doubling of anxiety disorders , among the LGB population living in states that instituted bans on same-sex marriage.
According to the author, the study highlighted the importance of abolishing institutional forms of discrimination, including those leading to disparities in the mental health and well-being of LGB individuals. Institutional discrimination is characterized by societal-level conditions that limit the opportunities and access to resources by socially disadvantaged groups.
Author and journalist Jonathan Rauch has argued that marriage is good for all men, whether homosexual or heterosexual, because engaging in its social roles reduces men's aggression and promiscuity. Same-sex parents and carers and their children are likely to benefit in numerous ways from legal recognition of their families, and providing such recognition through marriage will bestow greater benefit than civil unions or domestic partnerships. The American Psychological Association stated in In , a pair of economists at Emory University tied the passage of state bans on same-sex marriage in the United States to an increase in the rates of HIV infection.
Numerous polls and studies on the issue have been conducted, including those that were completed throughout the first decade of the 21st century. A consistent trend of increasing support for same-sex marriage has been revealed across the world, often driven in large part by a significant generational gap in support.
Polling that that been conducted in developed democracies in the first decade of the 21st century shows a majority of people in support of same-sex marriage. Support for legal same-sex marriage has increased across every age group, political ideology, religion, gender, race and region of various developed countries in the world. In the United States , continual polling by Gallup over the course of more than two decades has shown that support for same-sex marriage has grown rapidly, while opposition has simultaneously collapsed.
Various detailed polls and studies on same-sex marriage that were conducted in several countries show that support for same-sex marriage significantly increases with higher levels of education and is also significantly stronger among younger generations, with a clear trend of continually increasing support.
A reference to same-sex marriage by the Egyptians and Canaanites exists in the Talmud. The Book of Leviticus prohibited homosexual relations Lev. The sages explicitly state: A man would marry a man and a woman [marry] a woman.
What is arguably the first historical mention of the performance of same-sex marriages occurred during the early Roman Empire according to controversial  historian John Boswell. Child emperor Elagabalus referred to his chariot driver, a blond slave from Caria named Hierocles , as his husband. The first Roman emperor to have married a man was Nero , who is reported to have married two other males on different occasions. The first was with one of Nero's own freedmen , Pythagoras , with whom Nero took the role of the bride. The marriage was celebrated in both Greece and Rome in extravagant public ceremonies.
It should be noted, however, that conubium existed only between a civis Romanus and a civis Romana that is, between a male Roman citizen and a female Roman citizen , so that a marriage between two Roman males or with a slave would have no legal standing in Roman law apart, presumably, from the arbitrary will of the emperor in the two aforementioned cases. The idea implicit in the word is that a man took a woman in marriage, in matrimonium ducere , so that he might have children by her. Historians typically trace the beginning of the modern movement in support of same-sex marriage to the Sexual revolution in the United States in the s.
In , Denmark became the first country to recognize a legal relationship for same-sex couples, establishing registered partnerships , which gave those in same-sex relationships "most rights of married heterosexuals, but not the right to adopt or obtain joint custody of a child". In Mexico , same-sex marriage is performed in several states and recognized in all thirty-one states. In May , the Judicial Yuan of Taiwan ruled that the right of same-sex couples to marry is guaranteed by the Constitution of Taiwan and that the Legislative Yuan of Taiwan has a grace period of two years to amend the marriage law to align with the Constitution after which same-sex marriage will automatically become established by law in Taiwan.
In August , the Supreme Court of Justice of Costa Rica ruled that the right of same-sex couples to marry is guaranteed by the American Convention on Human Rights , in line with a January ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights , and that the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica has a grace period of eighteen months to amend the marriage law to align with the Convention after which same-sex marriage will automatically become established by law in Costa Rica.
Countries and territories in which same-sex marriage laws have been repealed are not included on the table. British Judge Sir Nicolas Bratza , then head of the European Court of Human Rights, delivered a speech in that signaled the court was ready to declare same-sex marriage a "human right", as soon as enough countries fell into line.
Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that: However, the ECHR stated in Schalk and Kopf v Austria that this provision was intended to limit marriage to heterosexual relationships, as it used the term "men and women" instead of "everyone". On 12 March , the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution encouraging EU institutions and member states to "[reflect] on the recognition of same-sex marriage or same-sex civil union as a political, social and human and civil rights issue".
On 5 June , the European Court of Justice ruled, in a case from Romania , that, under the specific conditions of the couple in question, married same-sex couples have the same residency rights as other married couples in an EU country, even if that country does not permit or recognize same-sex marriage. After a motion lodged by Costa Rica, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a landmark advisory ruling in favour of same-sex marriage on 9 January , which is expected to facilitate legalisation in several countries in the Americas.
The Court said that governments "must recognise and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex". They also said that it was inadmissible and discriminatory for a separate legal provision to be established such as civil unions instead of same-sex marriage. The Court demanded that governments "guarantee access to all existing forms of domestic legal systems, including the right to marriage, in order to ensure the protection of all the rights of families formed by same-sex couples without discrimination".
Recognising the difficulty in passing such laws in countries where there is strong opposition to same-sex marriage, it recommended that governments pass temporary decrees until new legislation is brought in. The Court issued its ruling in response to a motion brought by Costa Rica in The Costa Rican Government asked the Court to give its opinion on whether it had an obligation to extend property rights to same-sex couples, and the Court ruled that it did.
The Costa Rican Government also wanted to know whether it should allow transgender people to change their name and gender on their identity documents. Again, the Court ruled that it must. On 29 June , two family judges in Cuenca, Ecuador ruled that the Civil Registry must issue same-sex marriage licenses on request, stating that the decision of the IACHR trumped the Ecuadorian Constitution 's definition of marriage. The Registry has appealed, but the Constitutional Court has indicated that it is likely to rule in favor of same-sex marriage. On 8 August , the Costa Rican Supreme Court declared Costa Rica's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, and gave the Legislative Assembly 18 months to reform the law accordingly, otherwise the ban would be abolished automatically.
Besides Ecuador and Costa Rica, lawsuits regarding same-sex marriage have been filed in El Salvador halting a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage ,  Honduras,  Panama,  Paraguay to recognize marriages performed abroad ,  and Peru,  all of which are under the jurisdiction of the IACHR. As of 2 April , same-sex marriage is legally performed and recognized nationwide or in some parts in the following countries: Same-sex marriage is also due to soon become legally performed and recognized in Costa Rica , and Taiwan.
Legal cases have been filed in a number of other countries. On 15 July , the Argentine Senate approved a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.
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Australia became the second nation in Oceania to legalise same-sex marriage when the Australian Parliament passed a bill on 7 December Since 1 January , same-sex couples have been allowed to enter registered partnerships Eingetragene Partnerschaft. On 20 November , the Greens introduced a bill in the Austrian Parliament that would legalise same-sex marriage. In December , the Vienna Administrative Court dismissed a case challenging the same-sex marriage ban. The plaintiffs appealed to the Constitutional Court. Thus, same-sex couples have been allowed to marry since 1 January The Court also decided that civil unions will be open for both same-sex and different-sex couples from that date onwards.
Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize same-sex marriages when a bill passed by the Belgian Federal Parliament took effect on 1 June A statute legalized adoption by same-sex spouses. It included almost all of the rights available to married couples in Brazil.
Between mid and May , same-sex couples had their cohabitation issues converted into marriages in several Brazil states with the approval of a state judge. All legal Brazilian marriages were always recognized all over Brazil. In November , the Court of Bahia equalized marriage in the state of Bahia. In Rio de Janeiro, the State Court facilitated its realization by district judges in agreement with the equalization instead of ordering notaries to accept same-sex marriages in demand as all others.
On 14 May , the Justice's National Council of Brazil issued a ruling requiring all civil registers of the country to perform same-sex marriages by a 14—1 vote, thus legalizing same-sex marriage in the entire country.
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