Sunday, September 2, 2007

Netherlands (2001) Belgium (2003) Spain (2005) Canada (2005) South Africa (2006)
Israel (2006) Aruba (2007) Netherlands Antilles (2007)
Argentina Australia Austria China Estonia France Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania New Zealand Norway Portugal Romania Sweden Taiwan United Kingdom United States Civil union Registered partnership Domestic partnership Timeline of same-sex marriage Listings by country
Same-sex marriage is a term for a governmentally, socially, or religiously recognized marriage in which two people of the same sex live together as a family. Other terms for this type of relationship include "gay marriage", "gender-neutral marriage," "equal marriage," "lesbian marriage," "homosexual marriage," "single-sex marriage," and "same-gender marriage".

Debates over terminology

Main article: History of same-sex unions History

Main article: Status of same-sex marriage Current status

Main article: Civil union Civil unions
The terms of employment of the staff of international organizations (not businesses) are not, in most cases, governed by the laws of the country in which their offices are located. Agreements with the host country safeguard these organizations' impartiality with regard to the host and member countries. Hiring and firing practices, working hours and environment, holiday time, pension plans, health insurance and life insurance, salaries, expatriation benefits and general conditions of employment are managed according to rules and regulations proper to each organization. The independence of these organizations gives them the freedom to implement human resource policies which are even contrary to the laws of their host and member countries. A person who is otherwise eligible for employment in Belgium may not become an employee of NATO unless he or she is a citizen of a NATO member state.

International organizations
In the United Kingdom, the government is reported to have anticipated demand for same sex civil partnerships as being around 11,000 to 22,000 by 2010. However, as of December 2006 some 15,657 such partnerships had been registered in around 9 months.

Anticipated demand in the United Kingdom
When sex is defined legally, it may be defined by any one of several criteria: the XY sex-determination system, the type of gonads, or the type of external sexual features. By all of these definitions both transsexuals and intersexed individuals are legally categorized into confusing gray areas, and could be prohibited from marrying partners of the "opposite" sex or permitted to marry partners of the "same" sex due to arbitrary legal distinctions. This could result in long-term marriages, as well as recent same-sex marriages, being overturned.
An example of the problem with chromosomal definition would be a woman with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (CAIS), who would have a 46,XY karyotype, which is typically male. Although she may have been legally registered as female on her birth certificate, been raised as a female her entire life, have engaged in typical heterosexual female relationships, and may even have married before the status of her condition was known, using the chromosomal definition of sex could prevent or annul the marriage of a woman with this condition to a man, and similarly allow her to legally marry another woman. These same issues were faced by the IOC to determine who qualified as a female for the women's competitions.
In any legal jurisdiction where marriages are defined without distinction of a requirement of a male and female, these complications do not occur, and some legal jurisdictions may recognize a legal and official change of gender, which would allow one to satisfy the requirement of either "male" or "female" according to their gender-identity within their legal definition of marriage. Although some legal jurisdictions continue to only recognize the "immutable traits determined at birth". (Linda Kantaras vs. Michael Kantaras)

Main article: Legal aspects of transsexualism Transsexual and Intersex persons
In 2004, the American Anthropological Association released this statement:
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 legitimacy of marriage between two people depends on how the authoritative definition of marriage is derived. Gay rights advocates assert that marriage is a civil right since they believe marriage is a fundamentally legal agreement on the governmental level which should not be restricted to opposite-sex couples. Their opponents assert that marriage is a right, but it is a natural right based on the biological need to procreate. In this view, "marriage" between same-sex couples is not itself a right and can be allowed or disallowed as law decides. Further opponents argue that a change in the definition of marriage to include same gender couples could lead to the breakdown in understanding of what marriage actually is. Most of the controversy centers around governmental definitions of marriage, rather than the blessing of same-sex unions by individual religious organizations, which may or may not be recognized as civil marriages. Opponents counter that the very definition of traditional marriage itself has changed drastically over time; polygamy, formerly a common practice, is illegal in the United States and few people would openly espouse the idea of "wife as chattel." Moreover, the "traditional" view of "love marriages" has only been in existence since the latter 18th century.
Some who are in favour of same-sex marriage argue that homosexuals contribute as much as heterosexuals to the funding for private and public family coverage even when they have no access to it, and that discrimination decreases productivity. They support the equalization of male-male, female-female, and male-female relationships, and being able to marry any consenting adult one chooses is seen as a civil right that should not be abridged by the government.
Opponents answer that this view of marriage reduces marriage to little more than a means test for social benefits. They also see same-sex and male-female arrangements as inherently unequal, stating that nothing less than perpetuation of humanity itself relies fully on the latter and not at all on the former, and trying to "equalize" such arrangements through force of law will only create gross social distortions to accommodate the gulf between such law and the observable facts of human nature. However, none to date have argued that there should be a legal requirement to have children in a male-female relationship to be recognized as a marriage or that sterile male-female couples should be denied a marriage license. Furthermore, no concrete evidence has been offered affirming that non-procreative same-sex marriages and procreative opposite-sex marriages are mutually incompatible.
Some disagree with the idea of government involvement in the institution of marriage at all but especially the benefits received from becoming married that are largely seen as a "reward". Within this interpretation, giving benefits to married couples, regardless of sexual preference is a problem in and of itself. The government's only function is to uphold the legal agreement between the partners, regardless of sexual orientation. This view can be found with individuals that align themselves with the Libertarian Party and fits well within their small government ideals.

Some opponents object to same-sex marriage on purely religious grounds. Opponents often claim that extending marriage to same-sex couples will undercut the conventional purpose of marriage as interpreted by cultural, religious, and traditional understanding. Furthermore, opponents argue that same-sex marriage cannot fulfill common procreational roles, and/or sanctions a partnership that is centered around sexual acts that their respective religion prohibits. For example, James Dobson, in Marriage Under Fire and elsewhere, states that legalization or even tolerance of same-sex marriage would redefine the family, damage traditional family unions, and lead to an increase in the number of homosexual couples.
Conservatives and some moderate Christians further claim that same-sex marriage goes against biblical teaching. As an example, there is the Bible verse Genesis 19:5 which refers to the behavior which biblically contributed to the destruction of the ancient cities Sodom and Gomorrah.

Religious arguments
Those who advocate that marriage should be defined exclusively as the union of one man and one woman argue that heterosexual unions provide the procreative foundation of the family unit that is the chief social building block of civilization. Libertarians and others may see marriage not as a legal construct of the state, but as a naturally occurring "pre-political institution" that the state must recognize as it recognizes other natural institutions such as jobs and families. "Government does not create marriage any more than government creates jobs." that no one can choose, nor change, their sexual orientation, and that forbidding marriage between two people of the same sex is like forbidding marriage between two people of the same eye color, skin color, or nose length. Some even go as far as to say that sexual orientation is a gene just like these traits, and thus should not be treated as a basis for discrimination.

Social arguments
Proponents of same-sex marriage point out that "traditional" concepts of marriage in actuality have already undergone significant change.
Polygamy has been prohibited, married women are no longer considered the property of their husbands, divorce is legal, contraception within wedlock is allowed, and anti-miscegenation laws forbidding interracial marriage have been eliminated in most modern societies.
The fact that changes in the customs and protocols of marriage often occur gives rise to the argument that marriage is dynamic, and same-sex marriage is only the latest evolution of the institution.

Arguments about tradition

Main article: LGBT parenting Arguments concerning children
Over three years have passed now since same sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, and data from all of 2004 and 2005 are now available. Emergent trends in Massachusetts amount to a stark indictment of claims about same-sex marriage having a negative impact on traditional marriages.
Divorce rates are commonly used as a key measure of marital and family health.
US states, including Massachusetts, submit monthly summaries of vital statistics on births, deaths, marriages, and divorces to the US Center For Disease Control's National Center For Health Statistics (NCHS). The NCHS then compiles publicly available monthly and yearly reports of this data. The following statistics are based on that NCHS material.
Divorce rates in the US have been declining steadily since the early 1980s. Massachusetts has shared in the trend and traditionally has had a divorce rate considerably lower than the national average.
In fact, for several years now the Commonwealth has had the lowest divorce rate of any state in the union.
In 2004 the Massachusetts divorce rate, at 2.2 per 1,000 residents per year, was considerably lower than the US national average rate for that year, 3.8 per 1,000. The divorce rate in Massachusetts was lower than the national average rate of 2.6 per 1,000 in 1950, and even approached the national rate of 2 per 1,000 in 1940.
In the first two years of legal same sex marriage in the Bay State, Massachusetts showed a more rapid decline and will very likely hold on to its title as the US state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation.
The institution of marriage in Massachusetts since same-sex Marriage was legalized, as measured by the rate of divorce, has not been healthier in at least half a century regardless of dire predictions of Christian Right leaders and Catholic Bishops.
The conservative "red states" that have taken aggressive action against same sex marriage, have not done nearly as well during the two year period of legal same sex marriage in Massachusetts.
The preliminary data from 2004 and 2005—from the 17 US states which have provided data on divorce for 2004 and 2005 and whose voters also passed state constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage—presents a striking picture: the group of US states arguably most hostile to divorce, those which have passed both state laws and also state constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage, lag dramatically in terms of divorce rate improvement when compared to same sex marriage friendly states.
Among those US states that are most opposed to same sex marriage which have also provided divorce data for the time period — AR, KS, KY, MI, MS, MO, NE, NV, ND, OH, OK, OR, UT, TX — the average divorce rate ( unadjusted for population changes ) for 2004 and 2005 increased 1.75%. This group contains 4 of the 5 states with the highest divorce rate increases in the US during 2004 and the first 11 months of 2005.
The one state in the United States of America that has legal same sex marriage, Massachusetts, will be among the top ten states - or better - with the largest drop in divorce rates in America during 2004 and 2005.

Arguments concerning divorce rates
In the United States, there are at least 1,138 federal laws "in which marital status is a factor." (See Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States for a partial list) A denial of rights or benefits without substantive due process, assert the proponents of same-sex marriage, directly contradicts the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which provides for equal protection of all citizens. For instance, a heterosexual US citizen who marries a foreign partner immediately qualifies to bring that person to the United States, while long-term gay and lesbian binational partners who have spent decades together are denied the same rights, forcing foreign gay partners to seek expensive temporary employer or school-sponsored visas or face separation. See Immigration Equality and Human Rights Watch report on this and other forms of discrimination against same-sex couples.
In a 2003 case titled Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court held that the right to private consensual sexual conduct was protected under the Fourteenth Amendment. The court noted "moral disapproval does not constitute a legitimate governmental interest under the Equal Protection Clause." Both supporters and detractors of same-sex marriage have noted that this ruling paved the way for subsequent decisions invalidating state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia noted as such in his dissenting opinion to Lawrence.
Some opponents of extending marriage to same-sex couples claim that equality can be achieved with civil unions or other forms of legal recognition that don't go as far as to use the word "marriage" that's used for opposite-sex couples. An opposing argument, used by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, is the following: "the dissimilitude between the terms "civil marriage" and "civil union" is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status" and also that "The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal." For instance, in matters under federal purview such as immigration, a bi-national same-sex couple committed under civil union do not have the same rights as their married heterosexual counterparts in sponsoring their alien partner for permanent residency. There is however, a bill pending in the United States Congress since 2000, called Uniting American Families Act pertaining to this discrimination.

Same-sex marriageSame-sex marriage Parallels to interracial marriage
Economic arguments on the impact of same-sex marriage focus on the effects on same-sex couples, businesses, employers, and governments. UCLA Law School economist and policy researcher Dr. M. V. Lee Badgett has studied the impact of same-sex legal marriage on all four of these groups.
Impact on Same-sex Couples: Badgett finds that exclusion from legal marriage has an economic impact on same-sex couples. According to a 1997 General Accounting Office study requested by Rep. Henry Hyde (R), at least 1,049 US Federal laws and regulations grant rights and responsibilities to legally married couples. A later 2004 study by the Congressional Budget Office finds 1,138 statutes related to marriage benefits.

potential loss of couple's home from medical expenses of one partner caring for another gravely ill one
costs of supporting two households, travel, or emigration out of the US for an American citizen unable to legally marry a non-US citizen
higher cost of purchasing private insurance for partner and children if company is not one of 18% that offer domestic partner benefits
higher taxes: unlike a company's contribution to an employee's spouse's health insurance, domestic partner benefits are taxed as additional compensation
legal costs associated with obtaining domestic partner documents to gain some of the power of attorney, health care decision-making, and inheritance rights granted through legal marriage
higher health costs associated with lack of insurance and preventative care: 20% of same-sex couples have a member who is uninsured compared to 10% of married opposite-sex couples
current tax law allows a spouse to inherit an unlimited amount from the deceased without incurring an estate tax but an unmarried partner would have to pay the estate tax on the inheritance from her/his partner
same-sex couples are not eligible to file jointly or separately as a married couple and thus cannot take the advantages of lower taxes via the marriage bonus Economic arguments
The Weekly Standard, commentator Stanley Kurtz argues allowing same-sex marriage blurs other common law precedents and will lead to the legalization of a variety of non-traditional relationships.
Incestuous marriages. The natural aversion most people feel toward incestuous relationships does not vary depending on sexual orientation.
Marriages of convenience for tax or other reasons. This however, seems to be more of an argument against government-sanctioned marriage in general, not just same-sex marriage.
Human-animal marriage. Non-human animals, however, do not have the legal standing to consent into a marriage contract. Etiquette

A Union in Wait
Blessing of same-sex unions in Christian churches
Adoption by same-sex couples
Marriage gap
Marriage rights and obligations
Marriage, unions and partnerships by country
Religion and sexuality
Timeline of same-sex marriage
Traditional marriage movement
Uniting American Families Act
List of LGBT couples

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