Same-sex marriage (also known as gay marriage) is marriage between two people of the same sex. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage or the possibility to perform a same-sex marriage is sometimes referred to as marriage equality or equal marriage, particularly by supporters. The legalization of same-sex marriage is characterized as "redefining marriage" by many opponents.
Same-sex unions have been recorded in the history of a number of cultures, but marriages or socially-accepted unions between same-sex partners were rare or nonexistent in other cultures. The first laws enabling same-sex marriage in modern times were enacted during the first decade of the 21st century. As of 1 January 2015, seventeen countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark,[nb 1] France, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands,[nb 2] New Zealand,[nb 3] Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom[nb 4] and Uruguay) and certain sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Mexico and most states of the United States) allow same-sex couples to marry. The laws in Slovenia and Finland are expected to take effect in 2015 and on 1 March 2017, respectively. Polls show rising support for legally recognizing same-sex marriage in the Americas, most of Europe and East Asia.[not in citation given]
Marriage open to same-sex couples
Recognized when performed in certain other jurisdictions
Government/court legalized or announced intention to legalize marriage
Federal recognition of marriages at the state level
Government/court legalized or announced intention to legalize civil unions
Same-sex unions not legally recognized
Colors higher in the list override those lower down.
rings = individual cases
Introduction of same-sex marriage laws has varied by jurisdiction, being variously accomplished through a legislative change to marriage laws, a court ruling based on constitutional guarantees of equality, or by direct popular vote (via a ballot initiative or a referendum). The recognition of same-sex marriage is a political, social, human rights and civil rights issue, as well as a religious issue in many nations and around the world, and debates continue to arise over whether same-sex couples should be allowed marriage, or instead be allowed to hold a different status (a civil union), or be denied such rights. Same-sex marriage can provide same-sex couples who pay their taxes with government services and make financial demands on them comparable to those afforded to and required of opposite-sex married couples. Same-sex marriage also gives them legal protections such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights.
Some analysts state that financial, psychological and physical well-being are enhanced by marriage, and that children of same-sex couples benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally recognized union supported by society's institutions. Court documents filed by American scientific associations also state that singling out gay men and women as ineligible for marriage both stigmatizes and invites public discrimination against them. The American Anthropological Association avers that social science research does not support the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon not recognizing same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriages can be performed in a secular civil ceremony or in a religious setting. Various faith communities around the world support allowing same-sex couples to marry or conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies; for example: Buddhism in Australia, Church of Sweden, U.S. Episcopalians, Native American religions with a two-spirit tradition, Druids, the Metropolitan Community Church, Quakers, some branches of Judaism,[nb 5] Unitarian Universalists, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, and Wiccans.
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