Same-sex marriage can be described as the union between two individuals of the same gender identity or biological sex. It is also referred to as gay marriage. The term equal marriage or marriage equality refers to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage or the possibility of to carry out same sex marriage. (Mulholland 2012). The proponents of same-sex marriage have characterized its legalization as “redefining marriage”. (Byrone 2012).
The first decade of the 21st century brought about the enactment of the first laws that allow same-sex marriage. As at the 19th of August 2013, about fifteen different countries in the world have enacted such laws. Amongst these countries are Uruguay, Sweden, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Norway, France, Brazil, Canada, Uruguay, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, and several sub-national jurisdictions in the United States. (BBC 2013)
In the United Kingdom, the Westminster Parliament has passed a law that would be effective in Wales and England as from the 29th of March 2014; a bill has also been passed by the Scottish parliament which would make same-sex marriage legal as from October 2014. In many western countries, statistics has shown that there is an increase in the support for legal recognition of same sex marriage. (BBC 2014).
In many countries around the world, the recognition of same sex marriage is not just a legal issue, it is a religious issues, civil and human rights issue, a social issue, as well as a political issue. A lot of debates keep arising as to whether the marriage of same sex couples be allowed or not, and if allowed, whether it should be seen as a marriage or should be given a different status e.g. civil union. There are a good number of faith communities in the world that are in support of gay and same sex marriage ceremonies. Among these faiths are: Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Unitarian Universalists, the Quakers, and the Wiccans.
Why are people in support of same sex marriage?
Those who are in support of same sex marriage are increasing exponentially. In a survey carried out in 2003 by the Public Religion Research Institute, more than 4500 Americans are in support of gay marriage which is an increment of about 32 percent relative to the poll conducted in 2003 when Massachusetts commenced the legalization of gay marriage. (Reuters 20).
Why are people against same sex marriage?
The proponents of gay and same sex marriage argue that marriages should be a covenant between a woman and a man which is by its nature aimed towards the procreation of offspring, the proper upbringing of the offspring, the unity and wellbeing of the children and spouses. They, therefore, argue that the union between two men and two women denies the self-evident psychological, physiological, and biological differences between women and men. They argue further that the complementarity in marriage can only be found in the union between two biologically opposite sex. Gay marriage violates natural law has it promotes the circumvention of the purpose of the sexual act, it denies the child the opportunity to be raised by a biological father and mother which is against the best interest of the child.
Homosexuality leads to a sterile union and does not create a family. They argue further that if same sex marriage becomes universally accepted as the next step towards sexual freedom, then what logical reasons can be used to stop the further steps that would follow which include; incest, bestiality, and sodomy.
Same-Sex Marriage in Canada
On the 20th of July 2005, Canada declared the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act which makes them the first country outside Europe and the fourth country in the world to declare a nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. This act provided a gender-neutral marriage definition. Though gay marriage has been legalized, starting from 2003, by the Court in eight out of Canada’s ten provinces and one out of Canada’s three territories whose residents consists about 90% of the whole Canadian population. Before the Act was passes in 2005, about 3,000 cases of gay marriages had already occurred in those area mentioned. It is noteworthy to mention that Canada has been giving legal benefits commonly associated with normal marriage to gay couples since 1999.
Prime Minister Paul Martin introduced The Civil Marriage Act on the 1st of February 2005 to the Canadian House as Bill C-38. On the 28th of June 2005, it was passed by the house of common and the senate on the 19th of July. On the 7th of December 2006, a vote was casted at the level of the House of Legislation, 175 casted their votes for while 123 casted their vote against the bill. With this result, the House of Commons effectively reaffirmed the legislation.
Same-Sex Marriage in Nigeria
In Nigeria, the most populous black nation, neither civil unions nor same-sex marriages are recognized. The practice of homosexuality would lead to capital punishment for areas under the Sharia Islamic law while a fourteen year jail term awaits any homosexuals caught in the Southern parts of the country. On the 18th of January 2007, a law known as Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2006 was approved by the federal executive council and forwarded to the senate for quick action. This bill calls for a five year imprisonment of anyone found abetting, aiding, or witnessing gay marriage. It also goes further to prohibit any form of gay display and rule against the adoption of children by gay men and women. The bill also calls for a 5 year punishment for anyone who advocate for gay rights in the country. It also proposes the ban of every form of relationship with a gay person. The bill received no opposition and has been passed to law by the senate and approved by President Goodluck Jonathan. The Nigerian law makers ignored the condemnation by the United States Department and a signed letter written by about 16 international human rights groups declaring the bill a violation of the International law and a hindrance to the strive against the spread of HIV and AIDS.
The History of Gay Marriage
About five decades ago, all the 50 states in the US criminalized same sex marriage and not even the American Civil Liberties raised any objection to it. Gays are not allowed to join the military and the federal government does not hire people who openly declare to be gay. Gay bars used to be raided regularly by the police. Only a very few number of gay rights organizations existed, but they have only a very few members. Back then most Americans considered gay marriage awkward.
Surprisingly today, polls conducted has shown that there has been an exponential increase in the number of Americans that endorses gay marriages, the level of endorsement is highest among those within the age bracket of 18 to 29 years where there is a support of about 70 percent. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, himself is in support of gay marriage. Several states have approved same sex marriage and a few has rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment which forbids it.
In the 1970s, many gay couples filed law suits requesting for same sex marriage licenses. The courts didn’t take them seriously and never gave them fair hearings. There was a case reported in which the trial judge made it compulsory on a lesbian plaintiff to exchange her pantsuit for a dress before she could be permitted into the court. The Supreme Court in Minnesota would not even ask a single question at oral arguments whenever the issue brought forward is about gay marriage. Back then, gay activists didn’t make gay marriage their priority but instead their focus was on the decriminalization of the consensual sex between same-sex couples and securing a legislation that would put a stop to the discrimination based on sexual orientation and, therefore, make it possible to elect the nation’s first openly gay public officials. At that time, the issue of marriage is somehow ambivalent among gays.
However, in the 1980s, activists commence to file for the recognition of gay relationship and went further to file for the recognition of the gay marriage. The advent of HIV/AIDS created a lot of havoc to the gay community as about 50,000 gay members were reportedly killed by the dreaded disease. This forced the whole young gay men to seek legal issues surrounding their relationships and the lesbian and gay baby boomers amongst which were parents filed for the legal recognition of their families.
Some Recent Happening Issues.
- On the 27th of February 2014, the state of Kentucky was ordered by the Judge to recognize gay marriages from other states. This order was made by Judge John G Heyburn II, stating that the State’s refusal to acknowledge gay marriages from other states violates the constitutional guarantee to equal protection under law. (The Guardian 2014)
- On the 20th of February 2014, the Attorney General of Oregon declared that the state is not willing to defend its ban on gay marriage that is the subject of federal litigation. (LA times 2014).
- On the 15th of January 2014, The Nigerian Government signed into law, the bill against same sex marriage.
- On the 21st of January 2014, The United States threatens to sanction Nigeria over her new Anti-gay law.
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Nytimes.com. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
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March 1, 2014 Retrieved 2 March 2014. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-oregon-gay-marriage 20140302,0,6705402.story#ixzz2uqEGMmn2
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