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The topic of gay marriage has only recently become a widely-debated issue. Gay couples began to demand equal civil rights, including the right to the legal protections of marriage, in the early 1970s. But public comment against gay marriage didn't begin until material moves toward legalizing the act were made. As a consequence, anti-gay marriage arguments have been mostly reactionary, with groups protesting any step made toward legalizing gay marriage.
The first legally recognized same-sex partnership was in Denmark in 1989, but the first legal gay marriage wasn't until 2001, in the Netherlands. Since then, countries and states within countries have reacted to gay marriages conducted in other countries by passing laws that prevent foreign gay marriages from being recognized.
It was only recently that homosexuality has been decriminalized in many countries.
Publicity surrounding the issue has forced churches to take a public stand on gay marriage. Normally a tolerant church, the Anglican Church held a convention to discuss gay marriage and tolerance toward homosexuality. The church ruled that gay marriages were against its teachings and distanced itself from church members who support gay rights.