|Same-sex marriage |
|Performed nationwide in: |
|Performed in some regions in: |
|Canada: BC, MB, NL, NS, ON, QC, SK, YT |
|United States: MA |
|Articles on other countries and regions: |
|Canada: AB, NB, NT, NU, PE |
|South Africa |
|United Kingdom |
|United States: CA |
|See also |
|Civil union |
|Domestic partnership |
|Edit this box (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=Template:SSM&action=edit) |
Same-sex marriage (also called gay marriage, and—less frequently—homosexual marriage) refers to marriage between partners of the same gender (for other forms of same-sex unions that are different from marriages, see the articles linked in that section).
The terms "gay marriage" and "homosexual marriage" may not be strictly accurate, in that one or both partners may not identify as gay or homosexual. "Homosexual" may also carry negative connotations. Supporters of same-sex marriage argue that the correct term is simply "marriage." In the context of same-sex marriages, and throughout this article, same-sex refers to two people of the same sex. In this context, same-sex is not synonymous with gay, lesbian, or homosexual, nor with bisexual, transgendered or transsexual, but "same-sex marriage" may, depending on the couple and the jurisdiction, refer to marriages between two adults from any of those groups.
Recently, the term "same-sex marriage" has been displacing "gay marriage," as the term is perceived as less value-laden and more inclusive of bisexuals and transsexual people - who in some states of the US and in other countries, are not allowed to change their assigned gender on their birth certificates following sex reassignment surgery.
In this article, the inclusive term "same-sex marriage" is used throughout. Where necessary for clarity, the terms "gay", "lesbian", "bisexual," and "transsexual" are used (there are a number of reasons for this; please see the talk page for more details).
The term "mixed marriage" usually does not refer to marriage of two persons of different genders, but to marriage of two persons of different religions, cultures or races.
History of same-sex unions
For detailed information, see History of homosexuality.
Same-gender romantic love or sexual desire has been recorded from ancient times in the east. Such desire often took the form of same-sex unions, usually between men, and often included some difference in age (there is far less information available on relationships among women in ancient times. There are a number of possible reasons for this: an attitude that women were not important enough to write about; or that same-sex attraction between women was not valued as it was between men; or that women were not afforded equal status with men, so that, while men were free to pursue sexual and romantic pleasure both within and without marriage, women often were not).
In China, especially in the southern province of Fujian where male love was especially cultivated, men would marry youths in elaborate ceremonies. The marriages would last a number of years, at the end of which the elder partner would help the younger find a (female) wife and settle down to raise a family.
- Homosexuality in China
- Homosexuality in Japan
There is a long history of same-sex unions in the western world. That many early western societies tolerated, and even celebrated, same sex relationships is well-known. Evidence of same-sex marriage, however, is less clear, but there exists some evidence, often controversial, of same-sex marriages in ancient Rome and Greece, and even in medieval Europe.
In ancient Rome, for example, the Emperor Nero is reported to have married, at different times, two other men in wedding ceremonies. Other Roman Emperors are reported to have done the same thing. The increasing influence of Christianity, which promoted marriage for procreative purposes, is linked with the increasing intolerance of homosexuality in Rome.
Finally, in Europe during Hellenic times, pederastic relationships between Greek men (erastes) and youths (eromenos) who had come of age were analogous to marriage in several aspects. The age of the youth was similar to the age at which women married (the mid-teens), and the relationship could only be undertaken with the consent of the father. This consent, just as in the case of a daughter's marriage, was contingent on the suitor's social standing. The relationship, just like a marriage, consisted of very specific social and religious responsibilities, and also had an erotic component.
Same-sex marriage has been documented in many societies that were not subject to Christian influence. In North America, among the Native American societies, it has taken the form of two-spirit-type relationships, in which some members of the tribe, from an early age, heed a calling to take on female gender with all its responsibilities. They are prized as wives by the other men in the tribe, who enter into formal marriages with these two-spirit men. They are also respected as being especially powerful shamans.
In Canada the issue of same-sex marriage has split the religious community with the United Church of Canada and some elements of the Anglican Church of Canada being supportive while Roman Catholics and most conservative denominations in opposition.
In 2002, the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia (which includes Greater Vancouver) began allowing its churches to bless same sex unions in marriage-like ceremonies. In response, bishops from Africa, Asia and Latin America, representing more than one-third of Anglican Communion members worldwide, cut their relations with the diocese.
Reform Judaism, the largest branch of Judaism outside Israel allows religious weddings for same-sex couples within their synagogues provided they are both adherents of the Jewish faith.
In Africa, among the Azande of the Congo, men would marry youths for whom they had to pay a bride-price to the father. These marriages likewise were understood to be of a temporary nature.
Current status of same-sex civil marriage
Map showing variances in laws on homosexuality
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, there has been a growing movement in a number of countries to regard marriage as a right which should be extended to same-sex couples. Legal recognition of a marital union opens up a wide range of entitlements, including social security, taxation, inheritance and other benefits unavailable to couples unmarried in the eyes of the law. Restricting legal recognition to opposite-sex couples excludes same-sex couples from gaining legal access to these benefits, and while opposite-sex unmarried couples without other legal impediments have the option of marrying in law and so gaining access to these rights, that option is unavailable to same-sex couples. Similarly, though certain rights extending from marriage can be replicated by legal means (for example, by drawing up contracts), many cannot; thus, despite the presence of legal contracts, same-sex couples may still face insecurity in areas such as inheritance, hospital visitation and immigration. Lack of legal recognition also makes it more difficult for same-sex couples to adopt children.
At present, same-sex marriages are legal in only a few countries (see table, right). In Belgium and the Netherlands, same-sex marriage is fully legal. In Canada, same-sex marriage is currently legal in over half of the provinces and territories, covering approximately eighty-five percent of the population, and Bill C-38, a federal bill to formally legalize same-sex marriage across Canada, is before Parliament. (see Same-sex marriage in Canada).
In the United States as of February 2005, only the state of Massachusetts recognizes same-sex marriages, while the states of Vermont, Maine, Hawaii, California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia offer same-sex partners benefits similar to those of legally married couples. Seventeen other States have constitutional provisions that limit marriages to one man and one woman, while twenty-five States have statutes containing similar definitions. In the United States, the debate over whether or not to make same sex marriages legally binding remains one of the most polarizing and divisive political debates of the early 21st century and it is discussed with great passion all over the world. During 2004, 13 US States amended their constitutions to define marriage as being only between one man and one woman. Some people, including many gay rights advocates and some heterosexual same-sex marriage advocates, view restrictions such as these as being an example of the tyranny of the majority in action.
Currently no other country recognizes same-sex marriages as legally valid.
Same-sex civil marriages currently are legally recognized nationwide only in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The Swedish government is similarly preparing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage across the country  (http://www.365gay.com/newscon04/03/030304swedenMarr.htm).
Shortly after his election in June 2004 the Spanish Prime Minister confirmed his intention to push for legalization of same-sex marriage  (http://www.dailynews.com/Stories/0,1413,200~20954~2151089,00.html). On 1 October 2004, the Spanish Government approved a bill to legalise same-sex marriage. The bill now needs parliamentary approval, and is expected to come into force in 2005. For more information see Same-sex marriage in Spain.
On 18 November 2004 the United Kingdom Parliament passed the Civil Partnership Act, which will come into force during 2005 and will allow same-sex couples to register their partnership. The Government stressed during the passage of the Bill that it is not same-sex marriage, and some gay activists have criticised the Act for not using the terminology of marriage. However, the rights and duties of partners under this legislation will be almost exactly the same as for married couples. An amendment proposing similar rights for family members living together was rejected. See Civil Union.
In May 2004, the largest opposition party in France, the French Socialist Party, announced its support for same-sex marriage. A poll by ELLE found that 64% of France supports same-sex marriage.  (http://www.liberation.fr/page.php?Article=204455&AG)
In Canada, court rulings in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland as well as the Yukon Territory, have found the prohibition of same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, thus legalizing it in those jurisdictions. According to Statistics Canada (http://www.statcan.ca/english/Pgdb/demo02.htm) this amounts to roughly 87% of the country by population. Canada is also the only country without a residency requirement for same-sex marriage. The Canadian federal government has introduced amendments to the Canadian Marriage Act that would legalize same-sex marriage nationally.
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled, on a reference question (Re: Same-Sex Marriage, 2004) that the government has the authority to amend the definition of marriage, but did not rule on whether or not such a change is required by the equality provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court stated that such a ruling is not necessary because the federal government had accepted the rulings of lower courts. The Court also ruled that religious institutions could not be required to perform same-sex marriages.
The government introduced Bill C-38 in the Canadian House of Commons on February 1, 2005.
As of November 11th, 2004 the Canadian federal government's immigration department considers same-sex marriages valid for the purposes of sponsoring a spouse to immigrate. See also CIC (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/sponsor/index.html) and Same-sex marriage in Canada
Same-sex marriage is legal in the U.S. state of Massachusetts, following the November 18, 2003 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/supremejudicialcourt/goodridge.html) (.pdf version (http://www.glad.org/marriage/goodridge_decision.pdf)). The court stayed its ruling until May 17, 2004. Beginning on that date, hundreds of same-sex couples were legally married in Massachusetts. In the state of Washington, a Superior Court declared banning same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional; that case, Andersen v. Sims, is currently before the state Supreme Court.  (http://www.metrokc.gov/kcsc/docs/Andersen%20v.%20Sims.pdf) Several local government bodies in the United States are also performing same-sex marriages, on various degrees of legal footing. However, in 2004, 13 states passed referendums prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Given the federal system in the United States, issues could arise if a same-sex couple legally married in one state were to move to a state where same-sex marriage is illegal. In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, meant to prevent the courts from using the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit clause to bring same-sex marriage to states that have rejected it. In Loving v. Virginia (1967), the Supreme Court cited the Fourteenth Amendment's "due process" and "equal protection" clauses to strike down laws prohibiting interracial marriage, and in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) cited the same passages to strike down anti-sodomy laws.
On Feb. 24, 2004 President George W. Bush called for a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit same-sex marriages at the federal level.
King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia announced in February 2004 that he believed his country ought to legalize same-sex marriage.
Other forms of same-sex partnership
The movement towards the legal recognition of same-sex marriages has resulted in changes in the law in many jurisdictions, though the extent of the changes have varied:
- Civil unions provide most of the rights and responsibilities of same-sex marriage, but use a different name for the arrangement. They exist in several European countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland) as well as in the U.S. state of Vermont, the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia, (although marriage is legal in both provinces), the Australian states of New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania, and the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- Domestic partnerships or registered partnerships provide varying degrees of privileges and responsibilities, usually far fewer than those found in civil unions. Their purpose is not limited to same-sex arrangements and they exist in many jurisdictions.
Even in jurisdictions where they are not legally recognized, many gay and lesbian couples choose to have weddings (also called "commitment ceremonies" in this context) to celebrate and affirm their relationship, fulfilling the social aspect of a marriage. Such ceremonies have no legal validity, however, and as such do not deal with issues such as inheritance, property rights or social security.
Some writers have advanced the idea that the term "marriage" should be restricted to a religious context and that state and federal governments should not be involved in a religious rite. Some regard this as a governmental intrusion into religion; they believe that all statutes involving domestic contracts should replace the word "marriage" with "domestic partnership" and thus bypass the controversy of gender. This would then allow a domestic contract between any two individuals who have attained their majority.
The moral legitimacy of marriage between two people of the same sex hinges on how the authoritative definition of marriage is derived. If marriage is to have a religious foundation, the interpretation of religious texts and traditions will be key; if marriage is a social institution or even a purely economic coupling, pragmatic arguments will have more force, though moral issues will no doubt still arise. Gay rights advocates assert that marriage is a right which should not be limited to opposite-sex couples. Their opponents assert that same-sex marriage cannot be allowed on moral and/or religious grounds, or on the grounds that it will lead to a breakdown of society.
The debate is often perceived as being same sex marriage advocates vs. religious (especially fundamentalist) or moral opponents. However, corporations and other fiscally concerned parties sometimes oppose same-sex marriages not on any religious or moral grounds but instead with the aim of preserving the status quo to avoid extending benefits, such as insurance coverage, to the same-sex spouses of their employees. Those in favour of same-sex marriage argue that gays and lesbians contribute as much as heterosexual people to the funding for private and public family coverage even when they have no access to it.
Competing definitions of "marriage"
Nearly all people at all times have defined "marriage" in such a way that at least one male and one female were involved. Some societies have from ancient times permitted a man to have multiple wives, but those wives had congress only with the man -- not each other. But some rare variations have existed, such as polyandry (one woman with multiple husbands) and "group marriage".
Though religions perform marriages based on their own doctrinal definitions, these may or may not be recognized by the government depending on local laws. Governments will often provide opportunity for state-sanctioned legal marriages that are entirely secular and without religious influence (commonly called 'civil marriages'). They may or may not be recognized by certain religions. Some countries require all marriages to be civil, and any religious ceremony is purely symbolic. Generally, it is the government's definition of marriage that the same-sex marriage debate centers around (see marriage).
A typical definition of marriage proposed by those who support same-sex marriage is as follows:
- A socially sanctioned, voluntary, committed, legally contracted union, of two adult people, which the government and/or society recognizes by conferring certain rights, privileges and responsibilities, such as finances, taxes, and inheritance, child-raising, adoption, visitation, and medical decision-making.
For same-sex marriage proponents, the above achieves equalization of male-male, female-female, and male-female relationships. Being able to marry whomever one chooses is seen as a civil right that should not be abridged by the government.
Some countries and states/provinces have judicial rulings that set precedence for the above definition. However, popular majorities in some places continue to assert that the traditional concept of marriage cannot exist outside of a heterosexual relationship. To them, the male-female relationship has unique capacities and qualities that marriage was meant to recognize and foster that are not adequately acknowledged by the above definition.
Defenders of so-called "traditional marriage," that is, the union of one man and one woman, argue that only a heterosexual union can provide the procreative foundation of the family unit that they see as the chief social building block of civilization. They argue that the definition proposed by same-sex marriage advocates changes the social importance of marriage from morality to custom. As any customary relationship may be considered "marriage" some argue that this then leads to undue legislative burden and an affront to the social value and responsibility of parenting one's own children.
Some same-sex marriage proponents, such as Andrew Sullivan, argue that their definition retains enough moral underpinning to support the familial role marriage plays in society despite the absence of a direct (that is, unassisted by medical or social agencies) procreative element. Others argue that marriage no longer retains a procreative interest to the government, and that the other measures should replace marriage in ensuring parental responsibility.
The fact that changes in the customs and protocols of marriage often occur gives rise to the argument that marriage is dynamic, and same-gender acceptance is only the latest evolution of the institution. Some societies have from ancient times permitted spouses to have multiple concurrent marriages while many societies discourage this practice today. When a man legally takes more than one wife, it is called polygamy; when a woman marries multiple men, it is called polyandry. In polygamous and polyandrous marriages one person, a man or a woman, takes many spouses; these spouses are not married to each other, but are all married to the same person. Bigamy is the unlawful concurrent taking of more than one spouse. Marriages in which three or more people all marry each other are called "group marriages," and are very rare.
There have been many ritual homosexual unions practiced historically that provide many of the same benefits entitled traditionally to marriages. Some cultures have considered a set of strictly defined and regulated homosexual qualities to denote a gender that transcended both male and female. As possesors of a third gender, such people could marry either men or women. Some people in the position to write the law for their country indulged themselves in calling some of their same-gender relationships a marriage, though they assumed no familial attachment. Calling a heterosexual union the same legal term as a homosexual union for a whole state or society is only a recent occurrence.
One fundamental problem for any law banning same-sex marriage is defining the terms "man" and "woman". If defined genetically, both transsexuals and intersexed individuals would be probibited from marrying partners of the "opposite" sex and therefore from heterosexual marriage. Just as recent same-sex marriages have been quickly overturned as null and void, so too could extant, long term marriages. More than one in one hundred newborns are to some degree physically aberrant from their genetic sex, with most of them undergoing some degree of surgical alteration. Making allowances for "medical circumstances" would prove difficult, as homosexuality is certainly to some extent biological and probably genetically influenced. In the United Kingdom, recent legislation allows transsexual persons to be officially recognized in their new gender, but this has the effect of annulling any previous marriage. However the couple will now be able to register a civil partnership, to come into force immedediately on the dissolution of their marriage.
Arguments in opposition to same-sex marriage
Some opponents object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, arguing that extending marriage to same-sex couples undercuts the conventional meaning of marriage in various traditions or goes against the word of God, does not fulfill any procreational role, or sanctions a partnership centered around "abberrant" or "immoral" sexual acts. Many religious conservatives also believe that gays and lesbians are sinners who are undeserving of certain rights including legal recognition of their unions.
In countries with monogamous marriages only, some opponents also claim that allowing same-sex marriage will blur other common law precedents and lead to the legalization of polyamorous marriage, or to marriage between family members (incest), marriages of convenience contracted for tax or other reasons, or marriages between humans and non-humans. Some object on the grounds that same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt or raise children or to have access to reproductive technologies, and that same-sex marriage would make such adoptions easier. Others simply do not recognize any pressing need for same-sex marriages.
A fundamental concern is that the legalization of same-sex marriage will lead to a direct attack via lawsuits against religions to force them to perform marriage ceremonies of which they do not approve, and additionally that established churches could be bankrupted by these types of lawsuits. This is a realistic fear only in jurisdictions which fail to recognise freedom of religion.
Some libertarians object to same-sex marriage because they are opposed to any form of state-sanctioned marriage, including opposite-sex unions. They are not necessarily opposed to the idea of a same-sex wedding itself, only that the government should not have any role in the event, nor for that matter should government approval be sought for opposite-sex marriages.
Some other people object to same-sex marriage on the grounds that the purpose of marriage is a procreative partnership and that the same-sex partnership is inherently sterile. Some who hold this view see marriage as the social codification of an evolved long-term mating strategy, with economic and legal benefits to facilitate family growth and stability. These people generally do not carry over their objections to sterile heterosexual couples.
Many other people, while tolerant towards the sexual behaviour of others, see no reason to alter their society or government's traditional attitudes towards marriage and family.
Arguments in support of same-sex marriage
Proponents of same-sex marriage point out that so-called "traditional" concepts of marriage in actuality have already undergone significant change (see History of Civil Marriage in the U.S.). In most modern socieities, for example, married women are no longer considered the property of their husbands (see the legal rights of women), divorce is legal, contraception within wedlock is allowed (Griswold v. Connecticut in U.S.), and anti-miscegenation laws forbidding interracial marriage have been eliminated.
Proponents suggest that, under the principles of religious pluralism and the separation of church and state, conservative religious arguments should not be used to constitute the law. Religious same-sex marriages are already performed in Unitarian Universalist churches, some Reform synagogues, Quaker (Friends General Conference) congregations, and by the Metropolitan Community Church. In Canada, for example, the United Church of Canada, the country's largest Protestant denomination, has supported the legalization of same-sex marriage.
In the United States, proponents of marriage equality point out that there are over 1,049 federal laws in which "rights, benefits, and priviledges are contingent on marital status" (States General Accounting Office (http://www.gao.gov/archive/1997/og97016.pdf|United) pdf). Some of the rights conferred in marrage include:
- family visitation rights for the spouse and non-biological children, such as to visit a spouse in a hospital
- next-of-kin status for emergency medical decisions or filing wrongful death claims
- survivor benefits, social security, and bereavement leave after a spouse's death
- spousal health insurance, life insurance, and veteran's benefits
- marital tax breaks and the tax-free transfer of property between spouses
- custodial rights to children, shared property, child support, and alimony after divorce
- joint parenting rights, such as access to children's school records
- adoption rights
- domestic violence intervention
- immigration and residency priority for spouses from other countries
- access to "family only" services, such as reduced rate memberships to clubs & organizations or residency in certain neighborhoods
A legal denial of rights or benefits without substantive due process, proponents of marriage equality say, directly contradicts the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution which provides for equal protection of all citizen across classes.
In the 2003 case before the Supreme Court titled Lawrence v. Texas, the court held that the right to private consensual sexual conduct was protected under the Fourteenth Amendment. Both supporters and detractors of same-sex marriage have noted that this ruling paved the way for subsequent decisions (ie. Goodridge v. Department of Health) invalidating state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia noted as much in his dissenting opinion to Lawrence.
Some conservative proponents of equal marriage also say that the institution of marriage would be strengthened by making it available to more people, and argue further that same-sex marriage would encourage gays and lesbians to settle down with one partner and raise families.
Supporters of same-sex marriage counter slippery slope arguments that allowing such marriages will not alter the legalization of other, perceived undesirable marriages that are currently not allowed including:
- incestuous marriages, because allowing same-sex couples to marry does not alter the restriction on consanguinous relationships.
- marriages of convenience as these are already legal (between people of the opposite sex).
- marriages between humans and non-humans (Note: this argument is not taken seriously by most commentators), since non-humans do not have the legal standing to consent into a marriage contract.
- polygamous/group marriages, because allowing same-sex couples to marry not only does not change the restriction on the number of people who may contract a marriage. Furthermore, because of the reciprocal nature of many spousal rights and responsibilities, it would not be possible to give three-person groups equal rights and responsibilities as two-person groups. For example, if a government gives medical coverage to spouses of service members, then a service member with thirty spouses would either receive benefits far more valuable than one with only one spouse would or not all that service member's spouses would receive coverage.
Finally, supporters state that, in the jurisdictions that have afforded legal recognition of same-sex unions, the dire consequences foretold by opponents have not come to pass.
Arguments that gays and lesbians are sinners and thus are undeserving of recognition of their unions, proposed by conservatives, neglects the consideration that very rarely is anyone completely without sin, which is reinforced in Christian theology "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and thus by extension, no one should deserve the right of legal recognition of their unions. Moreover, in many places, it is legal for mixed-sex criminals to be married (see Turner v. Safley).
Same-sex Marriage & Gay Families
With the advent of recent medical breakthroughs that have opened a wide array of choices available to same-sex couples to have biological children or adopt, the denial of marriages to same-sex couples can have detrimental effects not only on the adults within these families but children as well. Hospital visitation issues, end-of-life decision making and access/barriers to health care can all be attributed to the denial of marriage.
The Main Procedures Used For Lesbians & Gay Men To Reproduce Are:
Gay men in long term relationships are now increasingly opting to raise families. Many methods have been devised to allow them to have biological children. Some couples elect to have a close relative (sometimes a sister), good friend, or contract an individual to either obtain an egg for a surrogate or give birth through in vitro fertilization. In the cases of a good friend or a contracted entity the child is only biologically related to one partner. However in the cases of a blood relative such as a sister of one partner who donates an egg that is fertilized with the other partner's sperm and placed into a surrogate the child is biologically related to both partners.
Lesbian couples can also produce biological children through similar manners. Some elect to have one partner donate an egg which is fertilized with a blood relative of the other partner, sometimes a brother. The egg is then placed into the partner who did not donate the egg. In essence one partner gives birth to her partner's and sometimes brother's biological child. This is not to be confused with incest since the child is not a biological offspring of a brother and sister, rather it is a biological offsrping of the brother and the sister's partner. The sister only acts as a vehicle of the birth.
These procedures can be costly. And many same-sex couples choose adoption instead. However adoption does not produce a child that is biologically related in any manner.
Publicly noted same-sex unions
- April 1 - Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf, first same-sex couple to marry in Quebec
Notable events timeline
A timeline of significant steps towards legal recognition of same-sex couples worldwide
- February 1: Canada: Bill_C-38, which would extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples across all of Canada, introduced.
- December 9: Canada: Acting on a reference from Parliament, the Canadian Supreme Court states that a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Canada would be constitutional. Prime Minister Paul Martin says his government will introduce same-sex marriage legislation in January.
- December 8: Israel: The Israeli government indicates that it will recognize same-sex partnerships for certain benefits, and will introduce legislation formalizing this status.
- December 8: New Zealand: Parliament passes civil union legislation by 65 votes to 55. The new law provides a way for de facto couples, including same-sex couples,