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As traditional marriage has been between a man and a woman, there are not many laws actively prohibiting same-sex marriages. People who wish to marry must satisfy the requirements for the legal act, which includes getting approval from the government, or nearest source of legal decision, and generally requires one man and one woman.
However, gay couples have challenged the flexibility of existing marriage laws by getting married and petitioning the court to admit their marriage's legality. In court, couples are able to argue that existing legislation does not specifically state that marriage must be between one man and one woman, or, if it does, that this is a discriminatory law.
Most of these cases have failed. When the couples have succeeded, local authorities are forced to allow same-sex marriage within their jurisdiction to avoid discrimination, and this is the way that many of the 10 applicable states came to allow same-sex civil unions.Countries and states have recently focused on passing laws that ban same-sex marriages conducted in other places from being recognized in their area.
For example, Australia recently passed the Marriage Legislation Bill 2004, which prevents gay marriages conducted in another country from being recognized in Australia. In the US, 19 states have banned gay marriage, and 43 have passed legislation defining marriage as between one man and one woman.