Homosexuality and bisexuality
2013-JUN: Current status & recent developments
marriage (SSM), mainly in North America
We maintain a section on this website describing more detailed
by-month SSM developments from 2011-FEB until now.
We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
Current status as of 2013-JUN in the U.S.:
- Twelve states and the District of Columbia issue licenses to loving, committed same-sex couples and register their marriages. The states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State.
- California: Proposition 8 which terminated same-sex marriages in 2008 has been found unconstitutional by the 9th U.S. Cirucuit Court of Appeals. This case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court whose ruling is expected late in June.
- Illinois: A bill legalizing same-sex marriage has been passed by the Senate and is expected to be voted upon in 2013-NOV by the House when the next session of the Legislature begins. The governor is anxious to sign the bill into law.
- Nevada: The Legislature has begun the long process to legalize SSM. It would take until 2016 because the state constitution must be changed first.
- New Jersey: During 2012-JAN, the legislature approved a bill legalizing SSM, but Governor Chris Christie (R) vetoed it against the wishes of the Senate, the House and the majority of adults in the state. The legislature has until 2014-JAN to try to overrule the veto. Governor Christie has suggested a referendum to let the public decide the issue. It would probably pass because a significant majority of voters in the state support SSM.
United States: Major developments over the past six months:
- 2012-NOV-06, Election Day: In an unprecidented move, voters in four states authorized major changes in SSM laws through referendums. Three states legalized SSM: Maine, Maryland, and Washington state. Minnesota rejected a discriminatory amendment to its constitution aimed to preserve marriage inequality. These were the first times that the public had authorized same-sex marriage. It was also the first time that a constitutional amendment banning SSM was rejected by public vote. These probably won't be the last of their types.
- Maine had legalized SSM in 2009. However, a referendum had repealed the law later that year. A new referendum was voted upon in 2012-NOV. It has repealed the previous plebiscite and made SSMs available. More details.
- Maryland's legislature legalized SSMs. It was later opposed by a citizen initiative. The referendum was rejected by a popular vote in 2012-NOV. More details.
- Minnesota: Religious and social conservatives had placed a plebiscite on the ballot to write discrimination into their state constitution. It would have prohibited the legislature or state courts from legalizing SSM. It is titled: "Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples." The ballot question asked: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"
There have been more than 30 similar constitutional amendments in other states prior to this one. All passed -- some with large margins. This one was the very first to fail.
The existing marriage law in the state still prohibited same-sex marriage. However, this was overturned in 2013-MAY by an act of the legislature. More details.
- Washington State: The legislature had legalized SSM earlier in 2012. However, social and religious conservatives launched a plebiscite to repeal the law. It failed on election day in 2012. More details.
- By 2013-JAN, nine states and the District of Columbia were issuing licenses to loving, committed same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The states were: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington State.
- California: Proposition 8 had terminated new same-sex marriages in 2008-NOV. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier federal District Court ruling that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional because it violates multiple clauses in the U.S. Constitution. Its proponents appealed the ruling to a larger panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who again upheld the lower court's ruling. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court who has accepted the case. Oral arguments were held in late 2013-MAR. The court ruling expected in late 2013-JUN. More details
- About a dozen states allow loving, committed same-sex couples to enter into civil unions or registered partnerships with some or all of the state rights, privileges and obligations given to married opposite-sex couples. However, the privileges obtained in this way do not include what many couples regard as the most important right of all: to call their relationship a marriage. 10
- In those states without SSM, civil unions, or registered partnerships, loving, committed same-sex couples are generally considered by their state government as "legal strangers" to each other -- as mere roommates -- without protections for themselves and their children.
- The resulting recognition of loving, committed same-sex relationships is in utter chaos across the country. As same-sex married couples travel from state to state, their rights are increased, reduced or instantly vaporized as they cross various state lines. Meanwhile, the marriages of all opposite-sex married couples are recognized in every state and territory.
- During 2013-MAY:
- The Delaware Legislature passed a SSM bill and the governor signed it into law. Minnesota and Rhode Island also achieved marriage equality by the same path. This makes a total of 12 states and the District of Columbia which have legalized SSM by mid-2013.
Other U.S. developments regarding SSMs, civil unions, etc.:
- Lawsuits in about 10 other states are underway to legalize SSM. A similar number of lawsuits are active to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages solemnized in the District of Columbia and a growing number of states.
Same-sex marriages (SSMs) were made available in nine of the ten provinces and all three territories in mid-2005 by a federal law. SSMs have since become a non-issue in the country, as marriages between one man and one woman, two women, or two men have become routine and unremarkable.
There have been only three significant developments in Canada since 2005-JUL:
- The one province that refused to implement the federal law was Prince Edward Island. The government couldn't figure out how to marry same-sex couples. It may have been because the standard license application form had headings for "Bride" and "Groom." Faced with a lawsuit from a lesbian couple, the provincial government had a flash of insight and quickly figured out a way to adapt the forms. SSMs then became available everywhere in Canada, for the first time, from sea onto sea onto sea.
- During 2006-DEC, the conservative-led federal government attempted to reopen debate on SSM with the goal of repealing the law. The attempt failed. More details.
- During 2012-JAN, the conservative-led federal government reopened an attack on SSM by victimizing a same-sex couple from Florida and the UK. They had married in Canada and returned years later to obtain a divorce. A government lawyer argued that their marriage in Canada was not valid. This is because SSMs were not available at the time in either of their countries of origin. The government considers them to be "legal strangers" to each other with only the rights of roommates. There was an immediate and intense outcry from LGBT, civil liberty groups, religious and social liberals, etc. The Government has promised legislation to remove the uncertainty and guarantee the validity of this couple's marriage and the marriages of other same-sex couples who had come -- and continue to come -- to Canada to marry. More details.
Elsewhere in the world:
- Current status: There is no uniformity from country to country. In some states, the relationships of loving committed same-sex couples are celebrated in marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. In other states, it can bring the couple to the gallows.
- 15 states have legalized SSM: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Uruguay, have attained marriage equality. In addition, Mexico City allows same-sex couples to marry as do 12 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S.
- In most of the remaining states, loving committed same-sex couples are treated as roommates.
- In some countries, mainly those that are predominately Muslim, criminalize same-gender sexual behavior; in six of them, the penalty can be execution.
- In a few islands in Oceania. same-gender sexual behavor by men is punishable with up a 14 year jail sentence -- sometimes with corporal punishment -- while same-gender sexual behavior among women is legal.
Major news items regarding SSM:
- Australia: Bills to legalize SSM were introduced into the federal Parliament. The House of Representatives rejected the Labour Party's SSM bill on 2012-SEP-19 by a vote of 98 to 42. The Senate also rejected the bill on SEP-20 by a vote of 41 to 26. The ruling Liberal party forced some of its members to vote against their conscience. They were required to vote against the bill or face the possibility of expulsion from the party. More details.
- Spain: When a conservative party took over control of the Spanish government, they launched a lawsuit to terminate same-sex marriages in the country. It was rejected by the courts in 2012-NOV.
- New Zealand legalized same-sex marriage in 2003-APR. More details.
- France legalized same-sex marriage in 2003-JUN. More details.
- United Kingdom: Legislation to legalize SSM in England and Wales has been passed by the House of Commons, and has completed second reading in the House of Lords. More details.
- More details on SSM outside of North America.
Amazon.com lists the following books on
same-sex marriage that you can safely order from their online bookstore.
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Copyright © 2012 and 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-MAR-17
Latest update: 2013-JUN-08
Author: B.A. Robinson