- Definition: Marriage between people of the same sex
- Statistics: 594,000 same-sex couples in the US in 2010
- States: Over half of US same-sex households are in California
- States: North Dakota has the fewest same-sex married couples
- History: 1st US gay marriage took place in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004
- Geography: Twice as many people in the South are against same-sex marriage
- Statistics: Lesbian couples account for 60% of same-sex marriages
- Supporters: Sally Field, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt
- Geography: Not recognized in Asia or Africa, except in South Africa and Israel
- Issues: Social, political, legal, religious, economic, health
The Netherlands Was the First Country to Allow Gay Marriage
Gay marriage facts reveal that gay rights activism in the USA started dramatically growing in popularity in the 1970s, and intensified during the 1980s and 1990s. However, the USA is far from being the first country in the world to allow gay marriages or registered gay partnerships. The first country to allow the latter was Denmark in 1989 (giving those living in same-sex relationships most of the same rights as those in heterosexual relationships, without the right to adopt or obtain joint custody of a child), but it took an additional 12 years for the first country to actually allow same-sex marriages – the Netherlands in 2001.
18 Countries Currently Support and Allow Same Sex Couples to Get Married
As of June 2015, 18 countries across the world support and allow same-sex marriages. The Netherlands was the first to do so in 2001, followed by Belgium in 2003, Spain and Canada in 2005, South Africa in 2006, Norway and Sweden in 2009, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina in 2010, Denmark in 2012, Brazil, France, Uruguay and New Zealand in 2013, the United Kingdom in 2014, and Luxembourg and the USA in 2015.
Slovenia and Ireland are scheduled to do the same by the end of 2015, and Finland by 2017. Same-sex marriages are also performed in some Mexican states and in Nepal, but are not yet legalized in legislation.
Same-Sex Marriage is Legal in All States of the US
Gay marriage facts show that same-sex marriages have been legal nationwide in the US since June 2015, following the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that the state-level bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional. According to the Supreme Court, the denial of same-sex marriage or refusal to recognize such marriages violates the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
But the legalization of gay marriage in some states started long before that – ever since 2003, various lower court rulings, state legislations and popular referendums partially legalized same-sex marriages in 38 out of 50 US states, Guam and the District of Columbia. The federal government recognized gay marriage after the Supreme Court ruling in US v. Windsor in June 2013. But 2015 finally brought the same recognition to gay couples at the state and federal levels.
There Is More than One Name for Same-Sex Marriage
Same-sex marriage is just one of the names for marriages between people of the same sex – others popular terms include marriage for gays and lesbians or simply gay marriage, although using any special term for same-sex marriages is sometimes viewed as controversial, since it hints that marriages of same-sex couples are somehow legally different from marriages of mixed-sex couples.
Some supporters of legalization of same-sex marriages use terms such as marriage equality or equal marriage to show that they only seek equal benefit and not special rights, and some opponents of legalization in the US call it redefining or redefined marriage.
Support for Same-Sex Marriage Is Increasing in the US
Gay marriage facts reveal that there has been a big shift in the way Americans perceive same-sex marriage in recent years. Notable support for same-sex marriage is found among Democrats, with 65% support; people without religious affiliations, with 85% support: and Millennials (also known as Generation Y), with 73% support. In general, polls from 2014 show that approximately 59% of Americans support legal recognition of gay marriage. But only a few years back, the level of support was much lower – for example, in 2005, only 28% of people supported legalization, 4% of people were unsure and 68% were opposed.
Public Debate on Same-Sex Marriage Has Been Quite Fierce
The heated debate about gay rights in general that eventually led also to the question of same-sex marriages, started many decades ago in the US, and is still quite fierce today, despite the fact that same-sex marriages are legalized at the federal and state levels.
The Democratic Party has traditionally been a supporter of gay marriage, and some Democratic presidents have publicly supported legalization of same-sex marriages, including the current US President, Barack Obama. Democrats are supported in this matter by various smaller political parties (Citizens Party, Green Party, Communist Party, Libertarian Party, Socialist Party and many others), plus numerous professional associations, non-profit organizations, labor organizations and even some religious organizations, such as Buddhist Churches of America, Presbyterian Church USA, Reformed Church of America, Wicca and many others.
On the other hand, the political party that still leads the opposition is the Republicans, although some notable members have expressed support for gay marriages in recent years. There are also various other organizations that oppose legalization, mostly of religious origin.
Social Media Is an Important Platform for Same-Sex Marriage Debates
Social media platforms are an important tool for any kind of marketing activities and have also been used with great success by both LGBT groups and those who oppose them. But those who advocate same-sex marriage have been more successful in general and many experts believe that social media has played a key role in the gay rights movements in the last decade. One such successful media campaign was the Red Equal Sign project that was started by the Human Rights Campaign in 2013 on Facebook; the campaign went viral and it is estimated that approximately 2.5 million Facebook users set their profile images to the red equals sign during the high-profile gay marriage hearings at the Supreme Court.
President Obama Changed His Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage Quite a Lot
Although President Obama is at the moment known as a big supporter of same-sex marriage, gay marriage facts reveal that he has changed his mind on the matter quite a lot in recent years. In the 1990s, while campaigning for the Illinois Senate seat, he supported same-sex marriage, but in 2008, during his first presidential campaign, he stated that he believes that marriage is the union between a man and a woman and that marriage is a secret union for him as a Christian. In 2009, he was against two legislative proposals for federal regulation of same-sex marriages, opposing the one that would ban same-sex marriages nationwide as well as the one that would legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, believing that each single state should decide on the issue by itself.
But late 2010 apparently brought a fresh wind to his principles, since he expressed support for the equalization of gay union rights and opposite-sex union rights and even for a nationwide (federal) recognition of same-sex relationships and marriages. In 2012, he made history by becoming the first US President in the office who openly said that same-sex marriages should be made legal.
Some Former US Presidents Supported Same-Sex Marriage
In addition to the current US President, Obama, who is a supporter of same-sex marriage, there have been various other presidents who supported equal rights in this matter – Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and even the Republican Gerald Ford, although all of them stated their support after their time in the office. George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, is also considered to be a supporter; he did not actually state his support, but served as a witness at a same-sex wedding in 2013.
George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, openly opposed same-sex marriage during his presidency, but later seemingly changed his mind and refused to take a clear position after his presidency was done.
Same-Sex Marriage Is Also an Important Economic Issue
Prior to same-sex marriages being legalized at both federal and state levels in the US, those living in same-sex relationships had to face several limitations. According to a General Accounting Office study from 1997, more than 1,000 federal laws and regulations included references to marital status, and according to a Congressional Budget Office study from 2004, the US had 1,138 statutory provisions in which marital status was a determining factor in receiving certain benefits.
This clearly put people involved in same-sex relationships at an economic disadvantage – among numerous limitations were also: high cost of obtaining certain legal documents that are automatically granted by legal marriage, including power of attorney, the right to health-related decisions and inheritance; the inability to file taxes jointly as a married couple and thus having lower taxes in cases in which partners had significantly different incomes; additional tax on employer-provided health insurance for a partner in a same-sex relationship, inability of a gay U.S. citizens to sponsor their partners for citizenship; and many more…
Same-Sex Marriage Is Surprisingly Also an Important Health Issue
Gay marriage facts also reveal a shocking truth that the discrimination of gays, lesbians and bisexuals sometimes leads to psychological health issues. For example, a study has shown a higher risk of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety disorder for gays, lesbians and bisexuals due to their status in society. Some studies also show that marriage decreases men’s aggression and promiscuity (since the position of a husband brings certain social norms and roles), but homosexual men are deprived of having that possibility where same-sex marriages are not legalized. A study from the Emory University in Atlanta that analyzed data from the past four decades even established that the rate of HIV infections increased with the passage of state bans on gay marriage.
Some Countries in Africa have a Concept of Non-Sexual Gay Marriage
Gay marriage facts reveal a surprising truth that some very traditional societies in Africa allow non sexual same-sex marriages between two women, but this is really only a legal arrangement where one woman takes the role of a man in order to secure the inheritance of the other or similar. In Kenya, about 5-10% of women live in such marriages, but these relationships are not seen as homosexual. Men, however, are not allowed to live in such arrangements, since they usually have no trouble securing their inheritance as sons.
In Nigeria, the situation was similar, with two women marrying each other being allowed, but two men marrying each other considered illegal. But things changed in 2006, when the Nigerian president Obasanjo signed legislation that prohibits all same-sex marriages and criminalizes anyone involved in such activities.
There Are Other Forms of Legally Recognized Same-Sex Unions Apart from Gay Marriage
Same-sex couples that live in countries where same-sex marriage is not legalized (yet), have other options of legally recognizing their relationships. Civil unions, civil partnerships, domestic partnerships, registered partnerships or unregistered cohabitation statuses offer at least some of the legal benefits of marriage and are available in various countries in Europe (Andorra, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greenland, Hungary, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Northern Ireland, San Marino, Slovenia and Switzerland), in South and Middle Americas (Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela) and in Australia.
Although these unions grant certain rights otherwise unavailable to same-sex partners, they are still considered inferior by many to actual marriage.
The Majority of the World’s Largest Religions Are Opposed to Gay Marriage
The major religions of the world usually follow traditional beliefs that deem a sexual union between a woman and a man the only appropriate one, so it is no surprise that most world religions oppose the legalization of same-sex marriages. The Roman Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriages, and so do the majority of Muslim and Orthodox Jew groups, and some Protestant groups. Buddhism is mostly considered to be ambivalent on the matter, although Buddhist organizations in various countries (including Australia and the USA) support legalization.
But several other religious organizations are ready to offer a more modern view and accept same-sex marriages as equal, among them the Church of Sweden, the Church of Denmark, US Episcopalians, Anglicans of Canada, various divisions of Judaism, Protestants of France, Belgium and Netherlands, and many others…
Most Countries that Allow Gay Marriage Also Allow Adoption
Gay marriage facts reveal that countries which legalized same-sex marriages also legalized adoptions in same-sex relationships for the most part. Portugal and some Mexican states (Chihuahua, Guerrero and Quintana Roo) are the exceptions, but, on the other hand, we have countries which do not allow same-sex marriages, but still permit joint adoption by (unmarried) same-sex couples – Andorra, Israel, Malta, various Australian territories, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, and others. There are also some countries which allow the adoption of a step-child in same-sex relationships – Colombia, Germany, Estonia, Slovenia and the Philippines.
Same-Sex Marriage is a Popular Subject in Popular Culture
Gay marriage facts show that same-sex marriages have been a frequent part of popular culture, including TV series such as the Simpsons, Family Guy, Modern Family, Brothers and Sisters, Queer as Folk, Glee, The Fosters, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The New Normal, Marry Me and others. The subject has also been covered in games such as The Sims 3, Fable II, Fallout 2 and The Elder Scrolls V; and in comics via Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in the Archie Comics Universe, and the superhero Jean-Paul Beaubier in the Astonishing X-Men comics who married his partner Kyle.
11 Native American Tribes Recognize Same-Sex Marriage
According to gay marriage facts, 11 Native American tribes recognize gay marriage and did so before the federal government and the states they reside in legalized it, since they have the right to form their own laws regarding certain aspects of life, including marriage. Tribes including Cheyenne, Arapaho, Coquille, Mashantucket Pequot, Puyallup and many others all recognize same-sex marriages. In 2013 the Lipay Nation of Santa Ysabel became the first tribe in California to do so.
Same-Sex Marriage Is Not New; It Has Been Around since Ancient Times
Gay marriage facts reveal that the first time same-sex marriages are mentioned in history is the early era of the Roman Empire, but the marriages are usually mentioned in a critical or satirical manner. The infamous Roman emperor Nero himself is believed to have married two other men (on two separate occasions). But the marriage between two Roman males (or a Roman male and a slave) was not legally a marriage under Roman law, since it was presumed that marriage, or “matrimonium”, involved a mother and a man who joined this mother in matrimony to produce children with her.
South Africa was the First Country in Africa to Recognize Gay Marriage
The Constitutional Court of South Africa made a ruling on December 1, 2005 in the case of the Minister of Home Affairs v. Fourie that the then existing laws on marriage violated the equality clause in the Bill Of Rights, since they discriminated people based on their sexual orientation. This began the process that eventually made South Africa the first country in Africa, the second outside Europe and the fifth overall in the world, to legalize same-sex marriage. The Civil Union Act that followed in November 2006 confirmed this and made it official.
Same-Sex Couples Get Divorced About as Often as Different-Sex Couples Do
There is a myth involving gay marriage facts that states same-sex couples divorce more often than heterosexual couples, but that is simply not true. If anything, the opposite might be true, since some European studies show that gay marriages have a lower divorce rate than heterosexual marriages. This is the case in Denmark, for example, where the divorce rate in same-sex marriages (14% for male marriages and 23% for female marriages) is significantly lower than the national average. What about the USA? The available statistics, although sometimes unreliable due to the short time period covered, show that the divorce rate is almost equal among same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
Gay Marriage Facts — Facts about Same Sex Marriage Summary
As of June 2015, gay marriage is legalized in 18 countries of the world, with a few additional countries which intend to legalize it in the near future, and many other countries that offer other forms of legal same-sex union. Same-sex marriage is also legal at both federal and state levels in the USA as of 2015, and public support for homosexual and bisexual communities has been growing in recent years. A few former US Presidents (both Democrats and Republicans) have expressed their support for gay marriages too, but Obama became the first US President to do so while still in office, in 2012. Same-sex marriages are not a new thing as they have existed for centuries – in the ancient Roman Empire, among Native American Tribes and various African nations, too.