In recent years, the debate over same-sex marriage has grown into a nationwide controversy, reverberating into the halls of congress, at the white house, in dozens of state and legislature and courtrooms, and in the rhetoric of election campaigns at both the national and state levels. As the debate rages on, the American religious community remains deeply divided over the issue, and over the morality of homosexuality. The debate has grown from an issue that occasionally arose in a few states to a national and even worldwide controversy.
Moreover, the battle over whether or not gay and lesbians should be allowed to wed shows no signs of abating. In the last year alone, three states have banned same-sex marriage and four states have legalized the practice. Recently, both sides in the debate have scored important victories. In April 2009, Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled that the states constitution guarantee’s gays and lesbians the righto wed, the high court in Connecticut had issued a similar ruling back in May of 2008. Gay marriage advocates have also won important legislative victories in a number of states, beginning in April 2009 when Vermont legislature same-sex marriage. The Vermont law marked the first time gay marriage was legalized as the result of a statue rather than a court ruling.
By the end of May 2009, two other state legislatures, those in Maine and New Hampshire, followed suit, bringing the total number of states that allow same-sex marriages to six. In June 2009, President Barak Obama granted family medical leave and certain other benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers. (The presidential memorandum did not include health insurance coverage, which would require congressional approval).
Many supporters of gay and lesbian couples say, that they should be treated no different than heterosexual couples and should be able to marry like everyone else. Beyond wanting to uphold the legal principles of nondiscrimination and equal treatment, supporters say that there are very practical reasons behind the fight for marriage equity. They point out that homosexual couples who have been together for years often find themselves without the basic rights enjoyed by many heterosexual couples who legally marry- from the sharing of health and pension benefits to hospital visitation rights.
The same-sex debate is not only an American phenomenon. Many countries, especially Europe, have dealt with the issue as well. Since 2001, seven nations- the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, and Norway- have legalized gay marriage.
On the other hand, opponents of legalizing same-sex marriage have consistently outnumbered supporters, although by varying margins at different points in time, for instance, in 2004, just after Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay marriage, a joint survey by the Pew Research Centers Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & Press found that about...