Early in the Supreme Courts of two states— California and Connecticut —struck down state laws limiting marriage to the union between a man and a woman. In such societies, the possibility of arrest or institutionalization further reinforced taboos on same-sex intimacy and discussions thereof, typically driving such activities underground. Advocates of both perspectives cited various and conflicting sociological studies in defense of their claims. Interestingly—and perhaps as a reflection of tensions between the marriage-for-procreation and marriage-for-community-good positions discussed above—many European countries initially prevented same-sex couples from adoption and artificial insemination ; by , however, most of these restrictions had been removed. As the electorate in Maine simultaneously reversed its previous decision, the three states became the first in the country to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box. In , the parliament also granted same-sex partners the right to adopt children. Subsequently, several other states and Washington, D. In treating same-sex desire as a psychiatric illness, these cultures moved same-sex intimacy and marriage from the realm of civil regulations the domain of contract law to that of public safety the domain of criminal law.
Gay couples in Sweden had been allowed to register for civil unions since The legislation gave same-sex couples the right to marry, divorce and adopt children. Later in the voters in California passed a referendum, Proposition 8 , that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Constitution guaranteed the fundamental right to marry. Belgium Beginning in , the Belgian parliament offered limited rights to same-sex couples through registered partnerships. New Zealand On April 17, the New Zealand Parliament gave final approval to a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage, making the Pacific island nation the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to allow gays and lesbians to wed. Although same-sex marriage has been regulated through law, religion, and custom in most countries of the world, the legal and social responses have ranged from celebration on the one hand to criminalization on the other. Barack Obama , who during his initial years in office had endorsed only civil unions for same-sex couples, in May became the first sitting U. Bermuda thus became the first country to repeal same-sex marriage. United States Eleven years after same-sex marriage was first made legal in Massachusetts, the U. Once same-sex marriage was established in a particular state, the reduction in the rate of attempted suicide among children in that state became permanent. The day before, the measure had won final passage in the British Parliament after months of debate. Many of these jurisdictions, as well as those that actively criminalize same-sex unions, contended that homosexuality and lesbianism are mental disorders and built their public policies on this premise. Officials in some smaller jurisdictions, notably San Francisco, joined the controversy in early by issuing marriage licenses in defiance of local prohibitions; these licenses were later found to be invalid. In addition, such societies often allow close kin a variety of automatic privileges such as sponsoring immigration visas or making medical decisions for one another; for those with whom one shares no close kin relationship, these privileges typically require legal interventions. In Canada became the first country outside Europe to pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. It passed despite resistance from members of the Christian Democratic Party and the Progress Party, as well as a public controversy over state funding for fertility treatments for lesbian couples. See also footnote 2. But the Church of Norway changed course and began sanctioning same-sex weddings in early The long-dominant Christian Democratic Party, traditionally allied with the Catholic Church, was out of power when the parliament passed the measure. That the same act was evaluated so differently by various groups indicates its importance as a social issue in the early 21st century; it also demonstrates the extent to which cultural diversity persisted both within and among countries. Notably, however, by the beginning of the 21st century most countries opted for one of only three legal resolutions to these intersecting problems: Finland Same-sex marriage will become legal in Finland starting in In April , the Constitutional Court declared the law to be constitutionally valid. In others, the broad spectrum of notions about sexuality and the purpose of marriage is compounded by national pluralism and a tendency for secularism and religiosity to intersect in complex and unexpected ways. For yet another group of polities, such as Switzerland and many U. Many countries have yet to reach a consensus on these issues.
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