In this article we will be discussing the history and legislation that evolved regarding same-sex marriage in the United States of America. In addition to which, we will be learning about landmark case laws that changed the way regulations and perspective evolved on the same. We will also be briefing for comparison purposes about the outlook of same-sex marriage in other countries.
Numerous organizations in the United States have cited scientific research that supports the following conclusion: “homosexuality is a natural and normal human sexuality, sexual orientation is not a choice, gay people form stable and committed relationships that are essentially equivalent to the relationships of heterosexuals, same-sex parents are no less capable than opposite-sex parents to raise children, no civilization or viable social order depends on restricting marriage to heterosexuals, and the children of same-sex couples fare just as well or even better than the children of opposite-sex couples.”
Even before same-sex marriage was recognized and was out in the open and up for debate. There have been various instances where couples did live together and their relation pretty much functioned as a full-fledged marriage. Although, the same was not legally sanctioned or sanctified as such. The early 70’s can be dated as the historical beginning of legalization of same-sex marriage. Various movement took place, organization that voiced their support and the landmark case of Baehr Vs. Miike, that paved the way in trying to seek legal recognition and gained public attention for the same. However, marriage wasn’t a request for the LGBTQ movement until the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Washington (1987). Both the federal and state level to restrict marriage to male-female couples, notably the enactment at the federal level of the Defense of Marriage Act.
- In a landmark 1967 civil rights case of, Loving Vs. Virginia, the Supreme Court held that “laws banning interracial marriage violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” One of the Plaintiff Mildred Loving issues a statement “I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry”.
- In 2009, Julian Bond, a leader of the civil rights movement and a chairman of the NAACP, expressed his support for same-sex marriage and stated that “gay rights are civil rights”. “In 2015, John Lewis, a leader of the civil rights movement and a chairman of the SNCC, welcomed the outcome of the landmark civil rights case of Obergefell v. Hodgesin 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 June 2013 decision of the S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor striking down the law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage gave significant impetus to the progress of lawsuits that challenged state bans on same-sex marriage in federal court.
- Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, “is a landmark Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case in which the Court held that the Massachusetts Constitution requires the state to legally recognize same-sex marriage. The November 18, 2003, decision was the first by a S. state’s highest court to find that same-sex couples had the right to marry. Despite numerous attempts to delay the ruling, and to reverse it, the first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples on May 17, 2004, and the ruling has been in full effect since that date.”
Regardless of various Supreme Court rulings, “a debate continues in the United States between advocates of legal equality and individuals and institutions that object to marriage equality on the basis of religious belief. In June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs, violating the state’s civil rights law. However, the court chose not to issue a broader ruling on whether businesses have a right to deny goods or services to LGBTQ+ people for religious reasons. In June 2020, the court ruled that a 1964 civil rights law prohibiting sex discrimination in the workplace also applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The ruling protected LGBTQ+ employees from being fired in more than half of states where no such legal protections previously existed.”
There are currently 32 countries where same-sex marriage is legal: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Uruguay.
On July 8th, 2022, Slovenia was one such country that legalized same-sex marriage: “The Constitutional Court of Slovenia ruled that the ban on same-sex marriages violated the constitution of Slovenia and gave the Slovenian parliament 6 months to pass legislation accordingly, which it did on October 4. The ruling took effect immediately after the court decision.”
As such two other countries that legalized same-sex marriage was Chile and Switzerland. What was their take on it? Stated as following:
Chile: “On December 9 the president of Chile signed into law a marriage equality bill that passed in the Senate on December 7 and the lower house on Nov. 23. Same sex civil unions had been legal since 2015. Slovenia: On July 8th, 2022, a ruling from the constitutional court of Slovenia decided that the ban on same-sex marriages violated the constitution of Slovenia.”
Switzerland: “On December 16, 2020, the Swiss Parliament overwhelmingly passed legislation extending marriage to same-sex couples. A public referendum held in September 2021 overwhelmingly confirmed support for marriage equality by 64%.”
From the history to the current scenario, we have come a long way. Initially people had to travel across states or different countries and or become citizens of other countries in order to get married. More than half states in the United States legalized same-sex marriage. These came either in the form of enforcing new legislations or landmark judgements. Many of which have been judgements from Federal Courts. However, there are still many countries that bans same-sex marriage, for example Saudi Arabia. Out of the 53 countries in the Commonwealth – a loose association of countries most of them former British colonies – 36 have laws that criminalize homosexuality. In the international circuit many resolutions have been passed on the same. Sadly, resolutions do not have the same binding effect as a treaty or convention.
 Andy Coghlan (June 16, 2008). "Gay brains structured like those of the opposite sex". New Scientist. Retrieved April 5, 2018. Also refer: "Statement on Marriage and the Family". American Anthropological Association. Retrieved June 9, 2015.  Gumbel, Andrew (20 June 2009). "The Great Undoing?". The Advocate. Archived from the original on April 29, 2019.  History of same-sex marriage in the United States - Wikipedia  Loving v. Virginia - Wikipedia  Same-sex marriage in the United States - Wikipedia  Ibid.  "UNITED STATES v. WINDSOR" (PDF). supremecourt.gov. October 2012.  Goodridge v. Department of Public Health - Wikipedia  Marriage Equality: Global Comparisons | Council on Foreign Relations (cfr.org)  Marriage Equality Around the World - Human Rights Campaign (hrc.org)  Ibid.  Supra 10.  Supra 10.  Homosexuality: The countries where it is illegal to be gay - BBC News