Same-sex marriage

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Same-sex marriage
Performed nationwide in

Netherlands (2001)
Belgium (2003)
Spain (2005)
Canada (2005)
South Africa (2006)

Performed statewide in
Massachusetts, USA (2004)
Foreign same-sex marriage recognized in
Israel (2006)
Debate in other countries and regions

New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States:
  CA, CT, MD, NY, NJ, OR, WA

See also

Civil union
Registered partnership
Domestic partnership
Timeline of same-sex marriage
Listings by country

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Same-sex marriage is the legal union of two people who are of the same biological sex or gender. Other terms include "gay marriage", "gender-neutral marriage", "equal marriage", "lesbian marriage", "homosexual marriage", and "same-gender marriage".

Rev.Troy Perry performed the first public gay wedding in the United States in 1969, but it was not legally recognized, and in 1970, Metropolitan Community Churches filed the first-ever lawsuit seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriages. The lawsuit was not successful.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, opposing efforts to legalize or ban same-sex civil marriage made it a topic of debate all over the world. At present, same-sex marriages are recognized in Belgium, Canada, Israel (only can be recognized - however can not be performed in Israel itself), the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and the U.S. state of Massachusetts (for same-sex marriages performed within that state under its laws).

Civil unions, domestic partnerships or registered partnership offer varying amounts of the benefits of marriage, which are available in: Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom; seven out of eight Australian states and territories including Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, and the U.S. states of California, connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, and Vermont; and the U.S. District of Columbia (Washington, DC). The first same-sex union in modern history with government recognition was obtained in Denmark in 1989 (although historian John Boswell argues numerous same-sex unions existed in pre-modern Europe; however, his scholarship standards are subject to intense debate).<ref>Halsall, Paul. "Reviewing Boswell". [1]</ref> Scandinavian registered partnership is nearly equal to marriage, including legal adoption rights in Sweden, and since June, also in Iceland. However these partnerships are written separately from marriage in the existing laws, and are thus not called marriage except in daily speech. In some countries with legal recognition the actual benefits are minimal. Many people consider civil unions, even those which grant equal rights, inadequate, as they create a separate status, and think they should be replaced by gender-neutral marriage.


[edit] Debates over terminology

Many proponents of same-sex marriage use the term "equal marriage"; the term "equal marriage" has also long been used by feminists to describe any marriage, regardless of the sex of the partners, in which the partners have equal status within the marriage. Some argue that the correct term is simply "marriage" since that is how opposite-sex marriage is presented. Opponents argue that equating same-sex and opposite-sex marriage changes the meaning of marriage and its traditions. Some opponents use the term "homosexual marriage", and surveys have suggested that the word "homosexual" is more stigmatizing than the word "gay". <ref> "New Poll: Americans Ambivalent About Homosexuality. [2]</ref> Some publications that oppose same-sex marriage put the word "marriage" in scare quotes when referring to it. Notable publications that practice this are The Washington Times and LifeSite. Cliff Kincaid, a writer for the American conservative-based media watchdog group Accuracy in Media, agrees with this method arguing that "marriage" is a word that same-sex couples merely want to apply to themselves, but have no legal ability to do so in most states. <ref>Kincaid, Cliff. "Honest Versus Slanted Journalism". [3]</ref> Equal rights supporters argue that it is editorializing and implying inferiority, and point out that the quotes are even used when referring to same-sex marriages in locations where it is legal.[citation needed]

Some have suggested reserving the word "marriage" for religious contexts, and in civil and legal contexts using a uniform concept of civil unions. Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, for instance, wrote that such an arrangement would "strengthen the wall of separation between church and state by placing a sacred institution entirely in the hands of the church while placing a secular institution under state control".<ref> Dershowitz, Alan M. "Government Should Quit the Marriage Business". [4]</ref> Conservative critics like National Review's Jennifer Morse contend that the conflation of marriage with contractual agreements is itself a threat to marriage that "has undermined more heterosexual marriages than anything, with the possible exception of adultery". <ref>Morse, Jennifer Roback. "Not a Social Contract". [5]</ref>

The terms "gay marriage" and "straight marriage" are potentially inaccurate to the extent that they imply that the spouses are of a certain sexual orientation. A spouse in a same-sex marriage may be bisexual and not gay, and a spouse in an opposite-gender marriage may be gay or bisexual. Sexual orientation has rarely been a legal or religious qualification for marriage (a gay man could still marry a woman).

[edit] History of same-sex unions

[edit] Current status of same-sex marriage

[edit] Jurisdictions accepting same-sex marriage

Some countries recognize same-sex marriage, namely the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada[6], Spain and South Africa. Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other countries, but does not perform them. In the United States same-sex marriage is currently considered unprotected by the U.S. constitution, and is banned in the majority of states, either constitutionally or by statute. It is currently legal in the State of Massachusetts, but only for their residents and residents of Rhode Island.

"Civil Union", "Civil Partnership" or "Registered Partnership" is operative in Denmark (including Greenland but excluding the Faroe Islands), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Andorra, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Switzerland, Czech Republic and the American states of Vermont, and Connecticut, the Australian states of Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory, some regions of Italy and Mexico City in Mexico.

"Domestic Partnership", which gives fewer rights than a "Civil Union" or "Registered Partnership," is operative in Hungary, Portugal, Croatia, in the American states of California, Maine, New Jersey, and District of Columbia, in the Australian states and territories of Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Northern Territory and Queensland, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and in the Argentinian province of Rio Negro and the city of Buenos Aires.

The State of Hawaii has "reciprocal beneficiaries relationship," which is a limited interpersonal status for same-sex couples. Vermont also has "reciprocal beneficiaries relationship," but this is a very different interpersonal status from the Hawaiian form. Pending legal challenges to marriage restrictions are aimed at expanding or reinforcing the recognition of same-sex marriages to California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington <ref>Seven more states ban gay marriage, but Ariz. bucks trend By Kavan Peterson, Staff Writer [7]</ref>.

Likewise, pending legal and electoral challenges to recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions are aimed at prohibiting such recognition in states such as Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin <ref>Ibid[8]</ref>.

The city of San Francisco in 2004 began sanctioning same-sex marriages despite their being explicitly illegal in California. The Supreme Court of California declared that the unions were null and void. In 2005, a bill, AB19, that would have changed California law to let same-sex couples marry, was passed by both houses of the California State Legislature. It was the first time in any state both houses of any state legislature approved a bill allowing gay marriage. Then it was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger although it wasn't a total surprise to the public because he made statement leaking the decision prior to the date in which he signed. (See Same-sex marriage in California for more information.)

[edit] International organizations

The terms of employment of the staff of international organizations (not businesses) are not, in most cases, governed by the laws of the country in which their offices are located. Agreements with the host country safeguard these organizations' impartiality with regard to the host and member countries. Hiring and firing practices, working hours and environment, holiday time, pension plans, health insurance and life insurance, salaries, expatriation benefits and general conditions of employment are managed according to rules and regulations proper to each organization. The independence of these organizations gives them the freedom to implement human resource policies which are even contrary to the laws of their host and member countries. A person who is otherwise eligible for employment in Belgium may not become an employee of NATO unless he or she is a citizen of a NATO member state<ref></ref>. The World Health Organization has recently banned the recruitment of cigarette smokers<ref></ref>. Agencies of the United Nations coordinate some human resource policies amongst themselves.

Despite their relative independence, few organizations currently recognise same-sex partnerships without condition. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the agencies of the United Nations voluntarily discriminate between opposite-sex marriages and same-sex marriages, as well as discriminating between employees on the basis of nationality. These organisations recognize same-sex marriages only if the country of citizenship of the employees in question recognizes the marriage. In some cases, these organizations do offer a limited selection of the benefits normally provided to opposite-sex married couples to de facto partners or domestic partners of their staff, but even individuals who have entered into an opposite-sex civil union in their home country are not guaranteed full recognition of this union in all organizations. However, the World Bank does recognise domestic partners. <ref></ref>

[edit] Controversy

The legitimacy of marriage between two people depends on how the authoritative definition of marriage is derived. Gay rights advocates assert that marriage is a civil right since they believe marriage is a fundamentally legal agreement on the governmental level which should not be restricted to opposite-sex couples. Their opponents assert that marriage is a right, but it is a natural right based on the biological need to procreate. In this view, "marriage" between same-sex couples is not itself a right and can be allowed or disallowed as law decides. Further opponents argue that a change in the definition of marriage to include same gender couples could lead to the breakdown in understanding of what marriage actually is. Most of the controversy centers around governmental definitions of marriage, rather than the blessing of same-sex unions by individual religious organizations, which may or may not be recognized as civil marriages.

Out Magazine covers the marriage of Bob Paris and Rod Jackson in March 1994

Some who are in favour of same-sex marriage argue that homosexuals contribute as much as heterosexuals to the funding for private and public family coverage even when they have no access to it, and that discrimination decreases productivity. They support the equalization of male-male, female-female, and male-female relationships, and being able to marry any consenting adult one chooses is seen as a civil right that should not be abridged by the government.

Opponents answer that this view of marriage reduces marriage to little more than a means test for social benefits. They also see same-sex and male-female arrangements as inherently unequal, stating that nothing less than perpetuation of humanity itself relies fully on the latter and not at all on the former, and trying to "equalize" such arrangements through force of law will only create gross social distortions to accommodate the gulf between such law and the observable facts of human nature. However, none to date have argued that there should be a legal requirement to have children in a male-female relationship to be recognized as a marriage or that sterile male-female couples should be denied a marriage license.

Some disagree with the idea of government involvement in the institution of marriage at all but especially the benefits received from becoming married that are largely seen as a "reward". Within this interpretation, giving benefits to married couples, regardless of sexual preference is a problem in and of itself. The government's only function is to uphold the legal agreement between the partners, regardless of sexual orientation. This view can be found with individuals that align themselves with the Libertarian Party and fits well within their small government ideals.

[edit] Religious arguments

Some opponents object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. They argue that extending marriage to same-sex couples undercuts the conventional meaning of marriage according to traditional cultural and religious understanding and traditions, does not fulfill any procreational role, and/or sanctions a partnership centered around sexual acts that their respective religion prohibits. For example, James Dobson, in Marriage Under Fire and elsewhere, argues that legalization or even tolerance of same-sex marriage would redefine the family and lead to an increase in homosexual couples.

Conservative and some moderate Christians further state that same-sex marriage goes against biblical teaching, for example, Genesis 19:5 <ref>;&version=31;</ref> (behavior which allegedly contributed to the destruction of ancient cities Sodom and Gomorrah). This story was the source of the word sodomy. Other passages are Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13 (which, by literal interpretation, prescribes the death penalty for male-male homosexual contact), and in the New Testament of the Bible, First Corinthians 6:8-10 and Romans 1:24-27 <ref></ref>.

However, other moderate and liberal Christians have the view that these passages are taken out of full textual, historical and cultural contexts and aren't applicable to homosexual relationships as we know them today. They view the passages about Sodom and Gomorrah as referring to systematic rape and inhospitability. They see the passages in Leviticus as part of the Holiness Code and strictly reserved to the Jewish people of that time. Most of this Holiness Code is not practiced by contemporary Christians (e.g., prohibitions on wearing mixed fabrics, a proscription of the consumption of pork, the sacrifice of animals as atonement for sins). For liberal Christians, the passage in Romans is seen as relating more to specific instances of Greco-Roman temple sex acts and idolatrous worship and not intended to address modern homosexuality.<ref></ref>

A fundamental concern of opponents is that the legalization of same-sex marriage will lead to a direct attack against religious institutions, limit their constitutional right to free speech, force them to perform marriage ceremonies of which they do not approve, and that established churches would be eventually bankrupted by lawsuits brought against them. However, no lawsuits have been brought against churches in nations which have legalized same-sex marriages.

Same sex unions are one of many topics in sexuality that are discouraged by many religious institutions, others examples being masturbation and fornication. In the aforementioned light, however, masturbation and fornication are opposed to a greater degree by these religions' central axiom (which is that God is love). The Church maintains that masturbation and fornication are a selfish use of sexuality, while homosexuality is a less-grave "incomplete" use of one's sexuality.

Some religiously liberal churches and denominations, as listed previously in this article, perform same-sex weddings. At the 1996 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, delegates voted overwhelmingly that because of "the inherent worth and dignity of every person" same-sex couples should have the same freedom to marry that other couples have.[9]

Proponents claim that since marriages are conducted by the power invested in the celebrant by the state, under the principles of religious pluralism and the separation of church and state, religious arguments should not be used to constitute the law.

[edit] Social arguments

Those who advocate that marriage should be defined exclusively as the union of one man and one woman argue that heterosexual unions provide the procreative foundation of the family unit that is the chief social building block of civilization. Libertarians and others may see marriage not as a legal construct of the state, but as a naturally occurring "pre-political institution" that the state must recognize as it recognizes other natural institutions such as jobs and families. "Government does not create marriage any more than government creates jobs" [10]. They argue that the definition proposed by same-sex marriage advocates changes the social importance of marriage from its natural function of reproduction into a mere legality or freedom to have sex. These sides of the argument may refer to themselves as "defenders" of traditional marriage. 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.

The dissent by Justice Martha Sosman in the decision of the Massachusetts high court<ref></ref> that legalized gay marriage in that state makes a societal argument without specifying the harm that would occur from this change. Asserting the a priori importance of marriage as an institution, she questions whether the burden of proof that this would be harmless has been met. Her analysis can be seen as an example of Precautionary Principle.

A common objection to same-sex marriage is that the purpose of marriage is a result of naturally occurring sexual attraction that leads to procreation 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. Others [citation needed] argue that because the law does not prohibit marriage between sterile heterosexual couples, or to women past menopause, the procreation argument cannot reasonably be used against same-sex marriage, particularly since technological advances allow gay couples to have their own related biological children. <ref></ref>.

Another view is that all marriages should thus be viewed legally as "civil unions". These civil unions would then only receive the benefits of marriage which do not require expenditures from the government (e.g. tax breaks), and any monetary benefits would only be awarded based on the number of children living in a household.

Some same-sex marriage proponents, such as Andrew Sullivan, argue that same-sex marriage is moral enough to support the family centered role marriage plays in society despite the absence of biological children. Also 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. Others argue that marriage no longer retains a procreative function of the government since many governments offer child tax credits and assistance regardless of marital status.

Some libertarians and anarchists 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. See Libertarian perspectives on gay rights.

[edit] Arguments about tradition

Proponents of same-sex marriage point out that "traditional" concepts of marriage in actuality have already undergone significant change. Polygamy has been prohibited, married women are no longer considered the property of their husbands, divorce is legal, contraception within wedlock is allowed, and anti-miscegenation laws forbidding interracial marriage have been eliminated in most modern societies. The fact that changes in the customs and protocols of marriage often occur gives rise to the argument that marriage is dynamic, and same-sex marriage is only the latest evolution of the institution.

[edit] Other arguments

Some opponents (including then Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania) also claim that allowing same-sex marriage will blur other common law precedents and lead to the legalization of a variety of non-traditional relationships including:

  • Polygamy. The gist of this argument is that the traditional definition of marriage involves two components, a commitment to one person of the opposite sex, and that changing one of these components (restricting it to members of opposite sexes) would necessarily lead to a change in the other component (restricting it to only one person).
  • Incestuous marriages
  • marriages of convenience for tax or other reasons.
  • marriages between humans and animals. Non-human animals, however, do not have the legal standing to consent into a marriage contract. This argument is not taken seriously by most commentators, and is generally considered offensive in that it compares non-heterosexual humans to non-human animals.

[edit] Arguments concerning children

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. A number of health and child welfare organizations, however, disagree. They include the Child Welfare League of America, North American Council on Adoptable Children, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers.<ref name="aclu1">Template:Cite web</ref> On July 28, 2004, the American Psychological Association's Council of Representatives adopted a resolution supporting legalization of same-sex civil marriages and opposes discrimination against lesbian and gay parents.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Others are concerned that changing marriage law to make marriage gender neutral requires editing mothers and fathers out of legal and cultural discourse about the family. Instead one can only refer to children's needs for "parents." Since the vast majority of children are born to and raised by heterosexuals, not homosexuals, making the law unable to affirm children's needs, when possible, to be raised by their own mother and father could lend further support to negative heterosexual trends in single parent childbearing and divorce that pose clear risks to children. This "liberal" position against same-sex marriage is no more concerned about same-sex marriage than about divorce, single-parent childbearing, or other recent family trends.<ref>See, for example, Don Browning and Elizabeth Marquardt, “What About the Children? Liberal Cautions on Same-Sex Marriage,” The Meaning of Marriage: Family, State, Markets and Morals, Robert P. George and Jean Bethke Elshtain, Editors (Dallas: Spence Publishing Company, 2006)</ref>

[edit] Arguments concerning equality

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In the United States, there are at least 1,138 federal laws "in which marital status is a factor" (United States General Accounting Office). See Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States for a partial list. A denial of rights or benefits without substantive due process, assert the proponents of same-sex marriage, directly contradicts the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which provides for equal protection of all citizens.

In a 2003 case titled Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court held that the right to private consensual sexual conduct was protected under the Fourteenth Amendment. (The court noted "moral disapproval does not constitute a legitimate governmental interest under the Equal Protection Clause.") Both supporters and detractors of same-sex marriage have noted that this ruling paved the way for subsequent decisions invalidating state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia noted as such in his dissenting opinion to Lawrence.

Some opponents of extending marriage to same-sex couples claim that equality can be achieved with civil unions or other forms of legal recognition that don't go as far as to use the word "marriage" that's used for opposite-sex couples. An opposing argument, used by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, is the following: "the dissimilitude between the terms "civil marriage" and "civil union" is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status" and also that "The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal."

Some proponents of same-sex marriage make a comparison between racial segregation and segregation of homosexual and heterosexual marriage classifications in civil law. They argue that dividing the concept of same-sex marriage and different-sex marriage is tantamount to "separate but equal" policies (like that overturned in the US Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education), or anti-miscegenation laws that were also overturned.

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 prohibited 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. 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 immediately on the dissolution of their marriage.

[edit] Parallels to interracial marriage

Several countries, including the United States and Canada, have historically had anti-miscegenation laws in place to prevent interracial marriages. These laws are now considered a direct infringement upon the civil rights of interracial couples and the last such law in the United States was struck down in 1967 (Loving v. Virginia). A key argument in support of same-sex marriage is that laws banning same-sex marriage are highly analogous to laws banning interracial marriage; a ban on same-sex marriage can therefore be seen as a form of discrimination infringing upon the civil rights of same-sex couples<ref name="aclu1"/>. In response, opponents of same-sex marriage argue that men and women are fundamentally different from one another, whereas interracial couples still fit within the "one man and one woman" definition of marriage<ref name="mmarriage">Template:Cite web</ref>.

They also point out that in 1972, after the Minnesota Supreme Court's ruling in Baker v. Nelson specifically distinguished Loving as not being applicable to the same-sex marriage debate, the United States Supreme Court dismissed the appeal "for want of a substantial federal question." Such a dismissal constitutes a decision on the merits of the case, and as such, is binding precedent on all lower Federal Courts.

On a side note, however, Baker seemingly no longer bars the lower federal courts from hearing cases regarding same-sex marriage. The federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) simultaneously created (1) a federal definition of marriage and (2) a new rule under the Full Faith and Credit Act (passed pursuant to Congress's authority under the federal Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause) purporting to limit mandatory interstate recognition of same-sex marriages. By "federalizing" marriage with statutes that are susceptible of judicial scrutiny, Congress effectively--albeit perhaps unintentionally--expanded the subject-matter jurisdiction of the federal courts, superseding Baker's dismissal "for want of a substantial federal question." Indeed, conservatives in Congress recently discovered this loophole when a same-sex couple was granted standing to sue in federal district court in California on a claim that DOMA is unconstitutional. (In response, some conservatives in Congress introduced a "court-stripping" provision that would prevent all federal courts from hearing claims challenging the constitutionality of DOMA. This court-stripping provision itself has been challenged as being of dubious constitutionality.)

[edit] Economic arguments

Some U.S. critics of same-sex marriage have argued against governmental recognition on the grounds that the public should not have to shoulder the burden of increased taxes and insurance premiums to cover the associated costs.<ref></ref>

Proponents of same-sex marriage have pointed out that one of the costs would be the tax penalty that all married individuals currently pay when filing their federal tax returns jointly. As an example, a ’99 Congressional Budget Office report showed 2.1 million married couples paying a total of 2.9 billion dollars in excess taxes because they filed jointly as opposed to individually.

[edit] Documentaries

[edit] See also

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[edit] Notes and References

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[edit] Bibliography

[edit] External links

bg:Еднополов брак de:Homo-Ehe es:Matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo fr:Mariage homosexuel ko:동성 결혼 it:Matrimonio omosessuale he:נישואים חד מיניים nl:Homohuwelijk ja:同性結婚 no:Kjønnsnøytralt ekteskap pt:Casamento entre pessoas do mesmo sexo ro:Căsătorie între persoane de acelaşi sex sh:Istopolni brak fi:Homoavioliitot sv:Samkönat äktenskap zh:同性婚姻

Same-sex marriage

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