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Though many arguments against gay marriage are based in homophobia, even people who otherwise support the rights of gays and lesbians have advanced arguments against gay marriage. One main concern is that allowing two people of the same sex to marry will devalue the concept of marriage. Those against gay marriage argue that marriage is between one man and one woman and allowing gay marriage would destroy the traditional family, which defenders of this idea value.
Others argue that marriages are for procreation. This argument is related to the idea that same-sex couples are not appropriate parents and shouldn't be allowed to assume a family structure. Those against gay marriage often bring up the above points, although their arguments are based on an idea that homosexuality is morally wrong.
Homosexuality is still illegal in many countries around the world, including
Australia passed the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill in 2004, amending the Marriage Act of 1961 so that it specifically stated marriage was for one man and one woman only. A similar law was proposed by the Republican party in the US in 2006, but it wasn't passed.
The religious and moral beliefs of a country tend to inform that country's stand on gay marriage. Although many religions allow gay members, very few will conduct gay marriage ceremonies. Anti-discrimination laws further complicate the matter, as a government's failure to allow gay marriage is not considered discrimination in most courts.
The opposition to gay marriage varies from county to county in each state, but repeated legal battles have shown that the strength to ban or approve gay marriage ultimately lies with each state's government.
Nineteen states - Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama - have explicitly banned the recognition of same-sex marriage, defining marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman only. In Texas, Florida, Ohio and Kansas, marriages where one partner was a post-operative transsexual have been voided by the ban on same-sex marriage
It is possible for gay marriage to be banned altogether in the US via federal law. In May 2006, Republicans put forward a Federal Marriage Amendment, an amendment that would prevent states from recognizing gay marriages. The amendment was ultimately defeated in the United States Senate, but without federal legislation supporting gay marriage, a similar law may be introduced in the future.
There are many points brought up in arguments against gay marriage. Some bring up the idea that marriage was created for the propagation of children, that the tradition of marriage doesn't apply to gay people, that it is a heterosexual institution.
Lying behind all of these arguments is the basic idea that marriage is the foundation of the traditional family, consisting of a mother, a father and children. It is feared that gay marriage will destroy this structure. These arguments pointedly ignore the fact that the structure of the family has been steadily changing since the mid-50s, as single-parent and diverse families grow in numbers in every country.
It is surprising how many people are anti-gay marriage, and what their reasons are. Some consider themselves open-minded, but think of marriage as an inherently heterosexual institution. Many do not understand why gays and lesbians want the right to be married, or how it affects their lives.
People from all sections of society have spoken out against gay marriage. Groups opposed to gay rights also argue against same-sex marriage - i n the 1980s the British Conservative Party was persuaded by such groups to enact a law to ban public schools from "promoting homosexuality" or endorsing same-sex marriages.
Some famous people who have spoken out against gay marriage include President George W. Bush and Pope John Paul II. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his capacity as Governor of California, vetoed a bill to allow gay marriage and said he believed that same-sex marriage should be settled by the courts or another vote by the people via a statewide referendum.
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.
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.