There are records of marriage between men dating back to the first century. In the modern era, marriage equality for same-sex couples was first legally acknowledged in the Netherlands on 1 April 2001 The application of marriage law equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples (called marriage equality) has varied by jurisdiction and has come about through legislative change to marriage law, court rulings based on constitutional guarantees of equality, recognition that marriage of same-sex couples is allowed by existing marriage law, and by direct popular vote (via referendums and initiatives). The most prominent supporters of same-sex marriage are human rights and civil rights organizations as well as the medical and scientific communities, while the most prominent opponents are religious fundamentalist groups. Polls consistently show continually rising support for the recognition of same-sex marriage in all developed democracies and in some developing democracies.
Scientific studies show that the financial, psychological, and physical well-being of gay people is enhanced by marriage and that the children of same-sex parents benefit from being raised by married same-sex couples within a marital union that is recognized by law and supported by societal institutions. Social science research indicates that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage stigmatizes and invites public discrimination against gay and lesbian people, with research also repudiating the notion that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon restricting marriage to heterosexuals. Same-sex marriage can provide those in committed same-sex relationships with relevant government services and make financial demands on them comparable to that required of those in opposite-sex marriages, and also gives them legal protections such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights. Opposition to same-sex marriage is based on claims such as that homosexuality is unnatural and abnormal, that children are better off when raised by opposite-sex couples, that same-sex couples cannot procreate, and that the recognition of same-sex unions will promote homosexuality in society. The former two claims are refuted by scientific studies, which show that homosexuality is a natural and normal variation in human sexuality, and that sexual orientation is not a choice. Many studies have shown that children of same-sex couples fare just as well as the children of opposite-sex couples; some studies have shown benefits to being raised by same-sex couples.
Some proponents of the legal recognition of same-sex marriage—such as Marriage Equality USA (founded in 1998), Freedom to Marry (founded in 2003), and Canadians for Equal Marriage—have long used the terms marriage equality and equal marriage to signal that their goal was for same-sex marriage to be recognized on equal ground with opposite-sex marriage. The Associated Press recommends the use of same-sex marriage over gay marriage.
Use of the term marriage
Anthropologists have struggled to determine a definition of marriage that absorbs commonalities of the social construct across cultures around the world. Many proposed definitions have been criticized for failing to recognize the existence of same-sex marriage in some cultures, including in more than 30 African cultures, such as the Kikuyu and Nuer.
With several countries revising their marriage laws to recognize same-sex couples in the 21st century, all major English dictionaries have revised their definition of the word marriage to either drop gender specifications or supplement them with secondary definitions to include gender-neutral language or explicit recognition of same-sex unions. The Oxford English Dictionary has recognized same-sex marriage since 2000.
Opponents of same-sex marriage who want marriage to be restricted to pairings of a man and a woman, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Catholic Church, and the Southern Baptist Convention, use the term traditional marriage to mean opposite-sex marriage.
A reference to marriage between same-sex couples appears in the Sifra, which was written in the 3rd century CE. The Book of Leviticus prohibited homosexual relations, and the Hebrews were warned not to “follow the acts of the land of Egypt or the acts of the land of Canaan” (Lev. 18:22, 20:13). The Sifra clarifies what these ambiguous “acts” were and that they included a marriage between same-sex couples: “A man would marry a man and a woman a woman, a man would marry a woman and her daughter, and a woman would be married to two men.”
What is arguably the first historical mention of the performance of marriages between same-sex couples occurred during the early Roman Empire according to controversial historian John Boswell. These were usually reported in a critical or satirical manner.
Child emperor Elagabalus referred to his chariot driver, a blond slave from Caria named Hierocles, as his husband. He also married an athlete named Zoticus in a lavish public ceremony in Rome amidst the rejoicings of the citizens.
According to Craig A. Williams some Romans as early as the first century clearly did participate in formal ceremonies in which two males were married. These marriages were seen as atypical: Williams writes that “a marriage between two fully gendered ‘men’ was inconceivable; if two males were joined together, one of them had to be ‘the woman.’”
The first Roman emperor to have married a man was Nero, who is reported to have married two other males on different occasions. The first was with one of Nero’s own freedmen, Pythagoras, with whom Nero took the role of the bride. Later, as a groom, Nero married Sporus, a young boy, to replace his wife Poppaea Sabina following her death, and married him in a very public ceremony with all the solemnities of matrimony, after which Sporus was forced to pretend to be the female concubine that Nero had killed and act as though they were really married.A friend gave the “bride” away as required by law. The marriage was celebrated in both Greece and Rome in extravagant public ceremonies.
Conubium existed only between a civis Romanus and a civis Romana (that is, between a male Roman citizen and a female Roman citizen), so that a marriage between two Roman males (or with a slave) would have no legal standing in Roman law (apart, presumably, from the arbitrary will of the emperor in the two aforementioned cases). Furthermore, according to Susan Treggiari, “matrimonium was then an institution involving a mother, mater. The idea implicit in the word is that a man took a woman in marriage, in matrimonium ducere, so that he might have children by her.”
In 342 AD, Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans issued a law in the Theodosian Code (C. Th. 9.7.3) prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples in Rome and ordering execution for those so married.Professor Fontaine of Cornell University Classics Department has pointed out that there is no provision for marriage between same-sex couples in Roman Law, and the text from 342 CE is corrupt, “marries a woman” might be “goes to bed in a dishonorable manner with a man” as a condemnation of homosexual behavior between men. The Boxer Codex, dated 1590, records the normality and acceptance of same-sex marriage in the native cultures of the Philippines prior to colonization.
Newly married couple in Minnesota shortly after the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States
Historians variously trace the beginning of the modern movement in support of same-sex marriage to anywhere from around the 1980s to the 1990s. In United States of America same-sex marriage became an official request of gay rights movement after the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1987.
In 1989, Denmark became the first country to legally recognize a relationship for same-sex couples, establishing registered partnerships, which gave those in same-sex relationships “most rights of married heterosexuals, but not the right to adopt or obtain joint custody of a child”. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to broaden marriage laws to include same-sex couples. Since then, same-sex marriage has been established by law in 29 other countries, including most of the Americas and Western Europe. Yet its spread has been uneven — South Africa is the only country in Africa to take the step; Taiwan is the only one in Asia.
Dates are when marriages between same-sex couples began to be officially certified. Marriage between same-sex couples is still not performed locally in some polities that recognize it when performed in other jurisdictions (e.g. several Mexican states).
|2001||Netherlands (1 April)|
|2003||Belgium (1 June)Ontario (10 June)British Columbia (8 July)|
|2004||Quebec (19 March)Massachusetts (17 May)Yukon (14 July)Manitoba (16 September)Nova Scotia (24 September)Saskatchewan (5 November)Newfoundland and Labrador (21 December)|
|2005||New Brunswick (23 June) Spain (3 July) Canada [nationwide] (20 July)|
|2006||South Africa (30 November)|
|2008||California (June 16, repealed November 5)Connecticut (12 November)|
|2009||Norway (1 January)Iowa (27 April) Sweden (1 May)Coquille Indian Tribe (20 May)Vermont (1 September)|
|2010||New Hampshire (1 January)District of Columbia (3 March)Mexican Federal District (4 March)Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (29 April) Portugal (5 June) Iceland (27 June) Argentina (22 July)|
|2011||New York (24 July)Suquamish Tribe (1 August)|
|2012||Alagoas (6 January)Quintana Roo (3 May) Denmark (15 June)Sergipe (5 July) Santa Rita do Sapucaí, Minas Gerais (11 July)Espírito Santo (15 August)Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (10 October)Bahia (26 November)Brazilian Federal District (1 December)Washington (6 December)Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe (9 December)Piauí (15 December)Maine (29 December)|
|2013||Maryland (1 January)São Paulo (16 February)Ceará (15 March)Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (15 March)Paraná (26 March)Mato Grosso do Sul (2 April)Rondônia (26 April)Santa Catarina (29 April)Paraíba (29 April)Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians (8 May) Brazil [nationwide] (16 May) France (18 May)Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel (24 June)California (28 June)Delaware (1 July)Minnesota (1 August)Rhode Island (1 August)Grand Portage Band of Chippewa (1 August) Uruguay (5 August) New Zealand (19 August)Doña Ana County, New Mexico (21 August)Santa Fe County, New Mexico (23 August)Bernalillo County, New Mexico (26 August)San Miguel County, New Mexico (27 August)Valencia County, New Mexico (27 August)Taos County, New Mexico (28 August)Los Alamos County, New Mexico (4 September)Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (5 September)Grant County, New Mexico (9 September)Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes (18 October)New Jersey (21 October)Blue Lake Rancheria (1 November)Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (15 November)Hawaii (2 December)New Mexico [statewide] (19 December)|
|2014||Cook County, Illinois (21 February) England and Wales (13 March)South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (13 March)Oregon (19 May)Pennsylvania (20 May)Illinois [statewide] (1 June)Akrotiri and Dhekelia (3 June)British Indian Ocean Territory (3 June)Puyallup Tribe of Indians (9 July)Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (16 July)Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians (10 August)Coahuila (17 September)Oklahoma (6 October)Virginia (6 October)Utah (6 October)Indiana (6 October)Wisconsin (6 October)Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (6 October)Colorado (7 October)West Virginia (9 October)Nevada (9 October)Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribes (9 October)North Carolina (10 October)Alaska (12 October)Idaho (15 October)Arizona (17 October)Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation (17 October)Pascua Yaqui Tribe (17 October)Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (17 October)San Carlos Apache Tribe (17 October)Yavapai-Apache Nation (17 October)Wyoming (21 October)St. Louis, Missouri (5 November)St. Louis County, Missouri (6 November)Jackson County, Missouri (7 November)Douglas County, Kansas (12 November)Sedgwick County, Kansas (12 November)Eastern Shoshone Tribe (14 November)Northern Arapaho Tribe (14 November)Montana (19 November)Blackfeet Nation (19 November)South Carolina (20 November)Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (13 December) Scotland (16 December)|
|2015||Luxembourg (1 January)Miami-Dade County, Florida (5 January)Florida [statewide] (6 January)Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (24 February)Pitcairn Islands (14 May)Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (15 May)Guam (9 June)Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin (10 June)Chihuahua (12 June) the United States [nationwide] (26 June)Northern Mariana Islands (30 June)Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (7 July)United States Virgin Islands (9 July)Puerto Rico (13 July)Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro (21 July)White Mountain Apache Tribe (9 September) Ireland (16 November)Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (18 November)Nayarit (23 December)|
|2016||Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians (2 February) Greenland (1 April) Colombia (28 April)Tulalip Tribes of Washington (6 May)Jalisco [statewide] (12 May)Campeche (20 May)Colima (12 June)Michoacán (23 June)Morelos (5 July)Isle of Man (22 July)San Pedro Cholula, Puebla (18 September)British Antarctic Territory (13 October)Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin (3 November)Cherokee Nation (9 December)Gibraltar (15 December)|
|2017||Ascension Island (1 January)Amealco de Bonfil, Querétaro (4 January)Cadereyta de Montes, Querétaro (4 January)Ezequiel Montes, Querétaro (4 January)Huimilpan, Querétaro (4 January)Pedro Escobedo, Querétaro (4 January)San Joaquín, Querétaro (4 January)Tolimán, Querétaro (4 January) Finland (1 March)Osage Nation (20 March)Prairie Island Indian Community (22 March)Falkland Islands (29 April)Guernsey (2 May)Bermuda (5 May, repealed 1 June 2018)Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin (5 June) Faroe Islands (1 July)Tristan da Cunha (4 August) Malta (1 September) Germany (1 October)Ak-Chin Indian Community (25 October)Baja California (3 November) Australia (9 December)Saint Helena (20 December)|
|2018||Puebla [statewide] (16 February)Chiapas (11 May)Alderney (14 June)Jersey (1 July)Oaxaca (26 August)Ponca Tribe of Nebraska (27 August)Bermuda (23 November, repealed 14 March 2022)|
|2019||Austria (1 January)Zacatecas, Zacatecas (14 February)Cuauhtémoc, Zacatecas (1 March)Villanueva, Zacatecas (20 May)San Luis Potosí (21 May) Taiwan (24 May)Nuevo León (31 May)Hidalgo (11 June)Baja California Sur (29 June)Miguel Auza, Zacatecas (by 5 July) Ecuador (8 July)Oglala Sioux Tribe (8 July)Bay Mills Indian Community (8 July)Colorado River Indian Tribes (8 August)Aguascalientes (16 August)|
|2020||Northern Ireland [final jurisdiction in the United Kingdom] (13 January)Sark (23 April) Costa Rica (26 May)Fresnillo, Zacatecas (3 July)Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (6 August)Tlaxcala (25 December)|
|2021||Sinaloa (30 June)Sonora (22 October)Querétaro [statewide] (13 November)Guanajuato (20 December)Zacatecas [statewide] (30 December)|
|2022||Yucatán (4 March) Chile (10 March) Switzerland (1 July)|