Barack Obama 's decision to support gay marriage has led to a debate about how it may influence the presidential election and the future of gay marriage in the United States. But the underlying reasons why gay marriage is so controversial in America are being overlooked. While there is generally no consensus for or against gay marriage in other Western nations, the issue has far more political importance in America, where it is the object of an exceptionally intense debate. Only a few U. Multiple other states have passed constitutional amendments barring gay marriage, as North Carolina recently did. But the fact that gay marriage is usually illegal in America is not exceptional in the Western world.
Stigma and Discrimination
Same-sex marriage in Massachusetts - Wikipedia
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, marriage equality was first granted to same-sex couples in the Netherlands on 1 April As of , same-sex marriage is legally performed and recognized in 29 countries nationwide or in some jurisdictions :. 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.
Local gay couples seek equality; but opposition sees moral issue
In the past few years, psychologists and doctors have discovered that policy changes for or against same-sex marriage can influence patterns of healthcare for lesbian and gay people. Although the research was conducted primarily on gay men in the US, the implications for other sexual minority groups in nations considering same-sex marriage legislation are far-reaching. In the US, gay marriage has sparked a heated debate. Studying the health effects of policy changes is tricky, and never perfect, but some situations allow us to follow people's health as policy changes are enacted.
On June 26, , the U. The decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized gay marriage nationwide, including in the 14 states that did not previously allow gays and lesbians to wed. As we approach the fourth anniversary of the ruling, here are five key facts about same-sex marriage:.