In the United States, there is social unrest regarding the government's denial of the right to marry for homosexuals. Plenty of conservatives are completely against gay marriage; and many of liberals are fighting for equal treatment. The neo-Christian politicians are using religious arguments to establish that homosexuality is an abomination. While this may be their belief system, this country was founded on religious freedom, where the people are allowed to worship how they see fit. A ground rule, set up from the beginning, states that separation needs to be made between religion and government, so the two shall never meld to become a theocracy. With the issue of gay marriage, lines get blurred and religion rears its head to influence a government's decision of who shall be married and who will be refused.
The history of gay marriage spans decades, even centuries of undocumented ceremonies and commitments. While I would like to delve into the long history, I must stick to modern accounting of gay marriage and government's role in this record keeping. Denmark became a trailblazing country, leading the way for the concept of registering same-sex couples in what we know as a civil union. This pioneering country voted on a law to register domestic partnership of gay couples on May 26, 1989. The law went into force on October 1, 1989. Shortly after the groundbreaking decision in Denmark, other European countries followed suit with registration for gay partnerships. The following countries have some type of registration for homosexual partnerships: Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, and Finland.
While European countries were progressively trying to resolve the gay marriage issue, in the United States there were struggles to support gay marriage as a governmental approved institution. The first success was in Hawaii on December 3, 1996 at 11:03 a.m., when a lower court found that the constitution of the state of Hawaii was discriminating against homosexuals (known as the Hawaii 6). After this ruling Hawaii's government set up a program offering "Reciprocal Beneficiary Relationships" where 62 spousal rights on the state level were given to homosexuals. This was a short-lived victory. In April 1997, the Hawaii legislature created a marriage amendment, which reiterated existing laws that only opposite-sex couples had access to marriage. When the Hawaii Supreme Court made a final ruling, on December 9, 1999, they said that this amendment had "rendered the plaintiff's complaint moot," and denied legal marriage to same-sex couples. No further appeals were possible. To date, there have been some small advances towards same-sex civil unions in the United States. Vermont in December of 1999, and Connecticut on April 20, 2005, set into law that civil unions for gay couples would now be available statewide. Following these civil union decisions, New York State on April 7, 2005, made it state law that the cities of New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Brighton, Ithica, and Nyack will respect gay marriages and/or civil unions from other jurisdictions. In a prolonged act of civil disobedience the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, issued over 4000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples during the early part of 2004. Newsom argued that California's state constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law, precludes discrimination against gays and lesbians who want to get married. In February of 2004 Newsom stated, "A little more than a month ago, I swore to uphold California's Constitution, which clearly outlaws all forms of discrimination. Denying basic rights to members of our community will not be tolerated."
As the world opens its eyes to social change, there are some places that offer full and equal marriage to gay couples. The Netherlands on April 1, 2001, set into law that gay marriage legal for Dutch...