Same-sex marriage also known as gay marriage is the marriage of two people of the same sex or gender , entered into in a civil or religious ceremony. There are records of same-sex marriage dating back to the first century. In the modern era, same-sex marriage started being legalized at the beginning of the 21st century. Today, it is available in 28 countries. Same-sex marriage is also due to become legal in Costa Rica. Furthermore, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued a ruling that is expected to facilitate recognition in several countries in the Americas. The introduction of same-sex marriage also called marriage equality has varied by jurisdiction, and came about through legislative change to marriage law , court rulings based on constitutional guarantees of equality, recognition that it is allowed by existing marriage law,  or by direct popular vote via referendums and initiatives. The recognition of same-sex marriage is considered to be a human right and a civil right as well as a political, social, and religious issue. Polls consistently show continually rising support for the recognition of same-sex marriage in all developed democracies and in some developing democracies.
Countries that allow same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage also called gay marriage is the union of two individuals of the same sex in a marital relationship , with the full legal rights and responsibilities allotted to this contract in a given jurisdiction. Legally defined marriage of homosexual couples is limited to a minority of jurisdictions at this time; more common is a " civil union ," which includes many of the all-important legal trappings, without the title "marriage" and the religious overtones some think are implied by the word. Supporters of same-sex marriage may refer to it as "marriage equality," [note 1] while opponents may call it "redefining marriage," [note 2] or may use scare quotes i.
Countries that allow same-sex marriage in some jurisdictions
The history of same-sex marriage in the United States dates from the early s, when the first lawsuits seeking legal recognition of same-sex relationships brought the question of civil marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples to public attention though they proved unsuccessful. Miike that suggested the possibility that the state's prohibition might be unconstitutional. That decision was met by actions at both the federal and state level to restrict marriage to male-female couples, notably the enactment at the federal level of the Defense of Marriage Act. The first legal same-sex marriage ceremony in the United States happened on February 12, , when the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, ordered city hall to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This decision resulted in the celebration of the first gay marriage in the United States, when Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon became the first gay couple to tie the knot and get official recognition of their fifty year relationship Marriage Equality New York. On May 17, , Massachusetts became the first U. Department of Public Health six months earlier. Just as with the Hawaii decision, the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts provoked a reaction from opponents of same-sex marriage that resulted in further legal restrictions being written into state statutes and constitutions. The movement to obtain marriage rights for same-sex couples expanded steadily from that time until in late lawsuits had been brought in every state that still denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In some jurisdictions legalization came through the action of state courts or the enactment of state legislation.
Debate has occurred throughout Europe over proposals to legalise same-sex marriage as well as same-sex civil unions. Poland and Slovakia recognise cohabitation for very limited purposes. Of the countries that recognise and perform same-sex marriages some still allow couples to enter civil unions, e. Benelux countries , France and the United Kingdom , [nb 3] whereas Germany, Ireland and the Nordic countries have terminated their pre-marriage civil union legislation so that existing unions remain but new ones are not possible. Several European countries do not recognise any form of same-sex unions. Of these, however, Croatia and Hungary recognise same-sex partnerships. Over the years, the European Court of Human Rights ECtHR has handled cases that challenged the lack of legal recognition of same-sex couples in certain member states. The Court has held that the European Convention on Human Rights ECHR requires member states to provide legal recognition, but does not require marriage to be opened to same-sex couples. In Schalk and Kopf v Austria 24 June , the European Court of Human Rights decided that the European Convention on Human Rights does not oblige member states to legislate for or legally recognise same-sex marriages.