Marriage equality applies marriage law equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The endeavors of civil rights organizations and medical and scientific communities have been the reason for its acceptance. As of 2022, marriage between same-sex couples is performed and legally recognized in 30 countries across the globe.
Marriage is a legal or culturally recognized union between two people—traditionally, a union between man and woman. For thousands of years, this remained the norm until changes arose in the legal system regarding marriages a few years ago. These changes have activated some interest in the question: Marriage Equality; What Is It & Does It Exist?
Although the recognition of same-sex marriage has become a human, civil, political, and social right, there has been a rising opposition from fundamental religious groups in this regard. Curious to know more? Journey with this author as we gain a deeper insight on marriage equality and the reasons for opposition.
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The Journey of Marriage Equality in the United States of America
The Human Rights Campaign has been at the forefront of lobbying for marriage equality for same-sex couples. The fight for marriage equality has been a long one. Rallying in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, they believe that every person, regardless of whom they love, should be recognized equally under the law.
Their efforts to legalize same-sex marriages started in the 1990s. The campaign started with many challenges. Although civil unions existed for same-sex marriages in many states, they did create a different standard than a legal marriage and did not offer the same rights or protections for the couple.
On the federal level, these couples were denied access to almost 1100 federal rights associated with the institution of marriage. In 1996, a Marriage Act was signed, highlighting that marriage was a union that only one man and one woman could only enjoy. This Act stated the clear mandate to deny same-sex marriage.
The first legal same-sex marriage in the U.S. took place in 2004, when Marcia Kadish, 56, and Tanya McCloskey, 52, of Malden, Massachusetts, were married at Cambridge City Hall, Massachusetts. However, in the case of federal law, there was a concerted effort to prevent marriage equality from becoming a reality and this union was only legally recognized within their own State at that time. Even President Bush was strongly opposed to marriage equality to the extent that he introduced a constitution highlighting that marriage was only acceptable if vows were exchanged between a man and a woman.
The Human Rights Campaign and its activists were not happy with its decision and saw this ruling taken to the lower court to overturn this decision. To win approval, the matter was presented to the Supreme Court.
A few years later, President Obama deemed this decision unconstitutional, which paved the way for marriage equality. On June 26th, 2015, the Human Rights Campaign and its activists enjoyed a tremendous victory as marriage equality became a reality. In all 50 States, same-sex couples who wished to be married were granted full equal recognition under the law.
After decades of championing equality amongst the same sexes, many countries now enjoy full marriage equality.
Countries That Support Marriage Equality
Due to the dedicated efforts of many of the human rights partners in other countries, marriage equality is now legal in the below countries.
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United States
- The United Kingdom
Religious Views on Same-Sex Marriage
While Human Rights activists have enjoyed their victory on marriage equality, the fundamental religious groups have long opposed this decision. Why is it that there is so much opposition from fundamental religious groups? What does religion have to say about same-sex marriage?
There have been numerous arguments for and against marriage equality, based on religious doctrine. Although many religions have opposed same-sex marriage, a growing number of denominations have been performing same-sex marriages.
Let’s explore some of these religions and their views.
Buddhism And Same-Sex Marriage
In 1997 the Dalai Lama was bold in his statement, “We have to distinguish between believers and unbelievers.” From a Buddhist point of view, their view on marriage equality is the same view they share on homosexuality. It is considered sexual misconduct to engage in a man-to-man or woman-to-woman relationship.
However, on 11 October 1995, some religious leaders changed their viewpoint and offered support for marriage equality. This argument was raised by Robert Aitken, a co-founder, and teacher of a Zen Buddhist Society; he confessed that he had nothing but compassion for same-sex couples and their decision to express their love in the form of a legal marriage.
Christianity and Same-Sex Marriage
Christianity has always taken a strong stance on the issue of marriage equality due to biblical principles. The Bible is specific about its teachings that the union of marriage only exists between man and woman.
According to Genesis 1 Verse 26 – 28, the sole purpose of creating man and woman was for them to multiply and procreate. This procreation can only be achieved through the union of male and female marriage. Same-sex marriage goes against this instruction and teaching.
However, other church denominations have indicated no mention of same-sex marriages in the Bible since there is no clear-cut indication. In the mid 00’s the Presbyterian Church of the USA indicated that same-sex marriages were not prohibited if they had their own unique ceremonies and could be performed according to the same marital vows exchanged between man and woman.
There are many denominations of Christianity that support the LGTB community and gay marriage. Some of the ones in North America include:
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Hinduism And Same-Sex Marriage
In Hinduism, there are both conservative and liberal views. According to their teachings, marriage is a union of spirits, and the soul is neither male nor female. Most of the opposition is from families with strong religious values. There has been an increase in suicide based on this disapproval.
There have, however, been some religious ceremonies that have been performed between same-sex couples, and the more westernized family members have been more accepting of this idea.
The swamis have expressed various opinions; some have been negative and some positive. According to one swami, there is no rule book in Hinduism, just a hundred million authorities. Since Hinduism has no leader or hierarchy, there is no clear-cut indication of the laws of the religion.
Islam And Same-Sex Marriage
According to Islamic teachings, same-sex marriage is not acceptable. In 2010 Keith Ellison, the first American Muslim in Congress, indicated that discrimination in this regard is wrong on all levels of humanity.
Full marriage equality may be acceptable legally in most countries; however, there is still conflict in the minds of many. This lack of acceptance stems from many individuals fearing change. While you can change the country’s law, it is the individual decision of acceptance that needs consideration.