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Lesbian, gay, & bisexual topics

Gay Marriages, worldwide:

Part 2

U.S.: Predictions of when gay marriages would be legal.
Public opinion. Final battles leading to marriage equality.

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This essay is a continuation from Part 1.

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Earlier predictions of the future of same-sex marriage:

In 1967, the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court issued their ruling in Loving v. Virginia. They redefined marriage nationally to allow interracial couples to marry. This involved one couple, the Lovings, who launched a lawsuit and fought their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many assumed that the attainment of marriage equality for same-sex couples across the entire U.S. would be next. This turned out to be a more complex task. By mid-2015, there were active lawsuits in dozens of states that attempted to overcome gay marriage bans.

Some commentators predicted that if and when:

  • Public opinion polls regularly showed that more than 60% of voters support SSM, and

  • Over 50% of the states allowed SSM, and

  • Over 50% of American adults lived in states where SSM is legal.

then a lawsuit to legalize same-sex marriage that started at a federal District Court would probably reach the U.S. Supreme Court and result in a decision by the High Court in favor of marriage equality.

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Public opinion about same-sex marriage:

Many people find any change -- or threat of change -- to the culture to be distressing. A change to the structure of the fundamental building block of society -- the family -- can be particularly upsetting. Also, any change related to human sexuality can be profoundly disorienting.

In 2008, the web site followed the debate over Proposition 8 in California. Prop 8 -- by a very narrow margin -- terminated gay marriages in that state during 2008-NOV. LivingVote's visitors posted three arguments for and three against SSM which seem to still reflect voters' main concerns nationally:

Arguments for SSM Arguments against SSM
Dignity & respect: "The institution of marriage conveys dignity and respect towards a couple that make a lifetime commitment to support each other. "Same-sex couples deserve this dignity and respect."

Religious freedom:
For most Americans, marriage is a religious sacrament or ceremony. If the definition of marriage is changed to allow SSM, some people fear that their faith group's clergy be forced to marry same-sex couples. [This is a needless fear because the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution erects a "wall of separation" between church and state. Churches and individual members of the clergy are able to deny marriage to any couple on any grounds]

There is also a concern that companies in the wedding industry (wedding cake bakers, wedding photographers, etc) will be forced by human rights laws to provide wedding goods and services to same-sex couples against their religious beliefs, or suffer fines and/or jail sentences.

Equal rights: Denying marriage to same-sex couples removes from one group a fundamental, important human right -- the right to marry the person that one loves and to whom one has made a commitment. That is unfair and unjust in a democracy.
Children benefit:
Many religiously conservative researchers believe that children thrive best when reared in a home with a married mother and father. They feel that boys and girls have needs that are met only by parents of the opposite gender.

Financial & security:
Denying one group the right to marry has many adverse emotional and financial consequences. Examples are Social Security, Medicare, medical leave, and other benefits; and property inheritance. They have no permission to make medical decisions for their partner if they are incapacitated. There are other factors that negatively affect the security of the couple and of their children.

Teaching about SSM: The role of marriage in society is a major topic taught in public schools. If SSM is legalized, schools would be required to teach that same-sex marriage is equivalent to opposite-sex marriage, starting as early as Kindergarten. That would violate the beliefs of many parents.

In 2009, the majority of U.S. adults opposed SSM, except in about six states and the District of Columbia. However, the trend was towards increasing acceptance. By 2011, the national level of support and opposition were approximately equal. By mid-2011, a major public opinion poll showed that about 53% of American adults favor SSM while about 45% were opposed for a margin of error about ±4 percentage points. That result was statistically significant.

Also in 2011, the Obama Administration recognized that a major part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was clearly unconstitutional. This is because it was a federal law that attempted to define marriage, which is a state responsibility. Although they continued to enforce the law, they stopped defending its constitutionality in the courts. Some commentators suggested that this decision would create a "tipping point" that would speed up the trends towards marriage equality in the U.S. This web site monitored such trends on an monthly basis. It would seem that a tipping point did actually occur.

By 2015, about 61% of U.S. adults favored SSM. Opinion about SSM was split the U.S. by:

  • Age: Youths and young adults are generally strongly for SSM; the elderly are either against SSM or evenly split.

  • Political affiliation: Most Democrats are in are favor, Independents slightly less so, Republicans are almost all opposed.

  • Religion: Religious conservatives are very strongly opposed. Religious liberals, progressives, non-theists, and NOTAs (those adults who are NOT-Affiliated with a faith group) are generally in favor. Members of mainline denominations are split.

  • Geography: Voters in the northeast and west coast are generally supportive; in the south and midwest they are mainly against.

Now that gay marriage has been legalized across the entire U.S. except for the territory of American Samoa, support was expected to increase rapidly. A Gallup Poll of 2017-MAY-3-7 showed that 64% felt that:

"... marriages between same-sex couples should ... be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages."

34% were opposed; 2% had no opinion. Sometime in 2018, we expect that polls will show that two in three U.S. adults will favor marriage equality.

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The final battles to attain marriage equality in the U.S.:

In early 2013, the Center for American Progress posted a graphic titled: "Marriage equality is now a mainstream value." It shows that 83% of registered voters expect that marriage equality would be attained across the U.S. during the next 5 to 10 years -- that is, between 2018 and 2023.

As of mid-2015, the above three criteria were met: Same-sex marriage had been legalized in 37 states, the District of Columbia and parts of Missouri. Over 70% of the U.S. population lived in areas where same-sex couples could marry. National polls indicated that slightly over 60% of U.S. adults favored marriage equality.

In mid-2015-JAN, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the appeal of four consolidated lawsuits, one each from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The name of the case is "Obergefell v. Hodges." The high court held hearings in late 2015-APR and issued its ruling on JUN-26. Their ruling defined marriage as a fundamental right for same-sex couples. Gay marriages were then theoretically legal throughout the U.S. in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in four of the five inhabited U.S. territories.

The High Court's ruling was not necessarily valid in the Territory of American Samoa. Alone among the territories, people born there are considered U.S. nationals, not U.S. citizens. As nationals, they only receive some constitutional rights. As of early 2017, the government there was still deciding whether marriage is a fundamental right for same-sex couples. They were apparently still undecided by late 2020. It will probably take a lawsuit to resolve the matter. Perhaps a same-sex couple living in American Samoa could travel to Hawaii or any other location where same-sex marriages are legal, get married, return home and launch a lawsuit to have their marriage recognized.

At the end of 2017, elsewhere in the world, same-sex marriage had been legalized in over two dozen countries, including the Netherlands in 2001, Canada in 2005, Ireland in 2013, and Northern Ireland in early 2020. This includes all of the other large predominately English speaking countries, with the exception of Belize, where only same-sex marriages made outside the country are recognized.

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star Mid-2016: Availability of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in North America:

Eleven years have passed since the Government of Canada legalized gay marriages. Initially, a tiny province, Prince Edward Island, objected. But when threatened with a lawsuit, they quickly found a way to conform to the law. Since then, same-sex couples have been routinely marrying in all ten provinces and three territories of Canada.

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, on the U.S. mainland:

  • Some Native American jurisdictions, where tribes have powers over cultural matters like marriage, also refuse licenses to same-sex couples.

  • Clerks in 11 counties in Alabama still refused to issue marriage licenses to all couples. They are all in the southern part of the state.

  • Clerks in one county in Alabama and Irion counties in Texas issue licenses to opposite-sex couples, but not to same-sex couples.

In all cases, an engaged couple can simply check with their local office that issues marriage licenses. If the clerk won't issue them a license, then they can phone around and find an adjoining county clerk within their state who will comply with the constitution.

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About terminology:

Originally, same-sex marriage was referred to as "gay marriage." This was confusing for three reasons:

  • Some might interpret "gay marriage" as involving only a marriage of two male gays.

  • Most include also the marriage of two lesbians.

  • Some same-sex marriages include one or two bisexuals -- persons who are attracted to both men and women, although usually not to the same degree.

To further confuse the situation, some religious and social conservatives placed quotation marks around "marriage" in order to emphasize their belief that same-sex marriage really isn't a legitimate form of marriage. They also began to refer to the marriages of opposite-sex couples as "natural marriages, to imply that marriages of same-sex couples are "unnatural."

And so, the term "same-sex marriage," and its acronym "SSM" came into widespread use. We feel that these terms are much better because they include all same-sex couples whether they involve gays, lesbians and/or bisexuals. But even SSM is not that great as an acronym. That is because much of the LGBT community had sought "marriage" not "same-sex marriage." That is, they were not seeking some new form of recognition of their relationships. They were seeking to be part of the existing community of married couples. Perhaps some term like "Marriage of same-sex couple" or "MSSC" will become widely used in the future. In the meantime, we will continue using "SSM." In Canada, SSM has been available for over 11 years and is simply referred to as "marriage."

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Our next essay on same-sex marriage is quite large for two reasons:

  1. It was the most actively debated religious topic in the U.S. between 1990 and 2015, having surpassed even abortion access in importance to some people.

  2. Eligibility for marriage is a responsibility of the individual states. Thus, the conflict for same-sex marriage was really 56 separate battles -- one in the District of Columbia, and one in each of the 50 states and five territories.
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This topic continues in Part 3 (It is BIG)

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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. National Freedom to Marry Day logos are available at:
  2. From the Family Research Council's Washington Update mailing list of 2003-OCT-8.
  3. Nima Reza, "Vermont Gay Marriage Begins Tuesday," CitizenLink daily update e-mail, 2009-AUG-31.
  4. Bob Livingston, "Gay marriage divides GOP," Personal Liberty Digest, 2009-JUN-03, at:
  5. John McCain, CNN newsroom transcript, 2007-FEB-11, at:
  6. Philip Pullella, "Gay marriage, abortion new forms of evil: Pope," The Toronto Star, 2005-FEB-23, Page A14.
  7. "The day that had to come: New York helps lead the way toward equality with vote on gay marriage," Buffalo News, 2011-JUN-28, at:

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > Gay Marriage > here

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Gay Marriage > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Religious impact > Gay Marriage > here

Home > Religious conflicts > N.A. examples > Gay Marriage > here

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Copyright © 1997 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Rewritten: 2009-MAY-10
Latest update: 2017-DEC-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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