Is Gay Marriage a Constitutional (or Human) Right?
Summary of Court Cases in U.S. and Abroad
British Columbia: The Case Against Polygamy
The recent polygamy trial in British Columbia brought together a group of distinguished scholars to document harms of polygamy, including Joseph Henrich, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, Rose McDermott, a political science professor at Brown University, Shoshana Grossard, an economics professor at San Diego State University, Rebecca Cook, a law professor at the University of Toronto, Dena Hassouneh, a nursing professor at Oregon Health & Sciences University, and Susan Stickevers, a medical doctor at the Stony Brook University Medical Center. The judge's ruling thus offers quick access to the empirical Case Against Polygamy, which this brief summarizes.
Marriage in the 2011 Legislative Session
As of July 1, 2011, all but seven states have concluded their legislative sessions for 2011. This legislative year has seen significant action on foundational questions of the meaning of marriage with important bills considered in at least fourteen states. This brief examines three types of bills related to marriage: (1) proposals to amend state constitutions to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, (2) bills that would redefine marriage to include same-sex couples and (3) bills that create civil unions, an alternative legal statuses to provide the benefits of marriage to unmarried couples under a different term.
International Courts on Marriage: Is Gay Marriage a Fundamental Right?
In court cases challenging the definition of marriage in the United States, a prominent claim is that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. This brief provides excerpts from cases from non-U.S. jurisdictions that have weighed in on this claim and found that there is no right to same-sex marriage in the relevant legal charters the courts were assessing. It also notes court decisions that have relied on the organic law of the nation to mandate a redefinition of marriage.
The Tenth Anniversary of Dutch Same-Sex Marriage: How is Marriage Doing in the Netherlands?
This April 1st marked the tenth anniversary of same-sex marriage in the Netherlands, the first country in the world to recognize same-sex unions as marriages.
This paper briefly assesses two questions: What has the demand for same-sex marriage turned out to be among same-sex couples? And how is marriage as an institution faring generally?
Marriage as a social institution is in general decline among many if not all European nations, and this brief does not attempt to address causality.
Is DOMA Defensible? A Survey of American Courts on the Definition of Marriage
On April 22, 2011, a commentator writing on the Los Angeles Times' website claimed that "DOMA forces the federal government to discriminate against same-sex married couples and to treat their families as unworthy of protection or respect. A law that serves only to designate some families as second-class citizens has no principled defense." Much the same view was expressed by Attorney General Eric Holder in announcing the Obama administration's refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal litigation, and similar claims are being made by the Human Rights Campaign and others in an effort to intimidate a law firm whose partner, former Solicitor General Paul Clement, agreed to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
American Courts On Marriage: Is Marriage Discriminatory?
The majority of courts to consider the issue, as well as the majority of people voting on it, have rejected a right to same-sex marriage.
Over the past decade, the overwhelming majority of Americans who have been able to vote on the definition of marriage have soundly rejected the idea that same-sex marriage is a civil right. Thirty-one states have enacted amendments to their constitutions defining marriage as the union of a husband and wife. In Maine, voters rejected a state law that redefined marriage and in Iowa, voters defeated all of the three judges up for retention who had voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
Newspaper Reactions to California Marriage Cases
On May 15th, the California Supreme
Court struck down Proposition 22, passed by
61 percent of California voters in 2000, and
issued a ruling that civil unions were not
How have Americans responded? We
looked at one potentially influential
indicatoreditorials in major newspapers
across the countryand find a surprisingly
American Courts On Marriage: Is Marriage Discriminatory? 1998-2008
On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme
Court overruled Proposition 22 which defines
marriage as the union of one man and one
woman. California thus joins Massachusetts as
the only other court to hold that marriage
constitutes discrimination in the U.S.
Pope Benedict XVI on Marriage: A Compendium
On April 15, Pope Benedict XVI visits
the United States for the first time. What
will his message be to Americans and to the
world during his United Nations visit? Amid
the themes of world peace, respect for
human dignity, the dangers of greed,
exploitation, and violence, I suspect Pope
Benedict will find some time for a reflection
on marriage and the human family.
Does Divorce Law Affect the Divorce Rate? A Review of Empirical Research, 1995-2006
Did the introduction of no-divorce law affect the divorce rate? This study looks at all the empirical research since 1995 that examines the impact of no-fault divorce laws on divorce rates both in the United States and in other nations, 24 studies in all.
Demand for Same-Sex Marriage: Evidence from the United States, Canada, and Europe 4/26/06
What proportion of gay and lesbian people choose to marry, when the option is legally available?
This research report offers estimates of gay and lesbian marriage rates based on the best available data. The highest estimate to date of the proportion of gays and lesbians who have married in any jurisdiction where it is available is 16.7% (Massachusetts). More typically, our survey of marriage statistics from various countries that legally recognize same-sex unions suggests that today between 1% and 5% of gays and lesbians have entered into a same-sex marriage. In the Netherlands, which has had same-sex marriage as a legal option for the longest period, between 2% and 6% of gays and lesbians have entered marriages in the first five years.
Trend data is extremely limited, but the available data suggest that the number of gay marriages tends to decrease after an initial burst (reflecting pent up demand). Whether same-sex marriage will emerge as common or normative among gays and lesbians, or fade as time and novelty passes, cannot yet be determined.
Can Married Parents Reduce Crime? 9/21/05
Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy says, "Results like these are a reality check for people such as Peggy Drexler ("Raising Boys Without Men") who argue that it is only poverty, and not father absence, that hurts children. Boys are hardwired to grow into men. But they are not hardwired to grow into good family men. That's a job for mothers and fathers working together."
Same-Sex Marriage: Recent Trends in Public Opinion 4/29/05
After eighteen months of intense public scrutiny, polls show strong and increasing opposition to same-sex marriage. Between June 2003 and March 2005, opposition to gay marriage rose from 55 percent to 68 percent in Gallup polling. In the last 18 months, the proportion of Americans who support a constitutional amendment defining marriage has also risen seven points from 50 to 57 percent.
Marriage and Adoption Law: a 50 state review 2/4/05
While all 50 states assert that adoption is
governed by the "best interests of the child,"
legal preferences for married couples in
adoption are rare. More states explicitly ban
"discrimination" based on marital status than
contain even mild preferences for marriage.
Five states (Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland,
New Jersey, New York) make it illegal to
prefer married couples in placement decisions.
Only one state (Utah) codifies a clear
preference for married couples in adoptions.
Recommendation: State legislatures should
codify appropriate preferences for married
couples (where available) in adoption law.
Same-Sex Marriage: What Does The Next Generation Think? 11/23/04
What does the next generation think
about same-sex marriage? Depending on
how the question is asked, a majority of
young adults either oppose or support samesex
marriage. In recent polls by reputable
polling companies, the proportion of young
adults (ages 18-29) who favor gay marriage
ranges from 40% to 63%. Conversely, the
proportion of young adults opposed to gay
marriage ranges from 36% to 54%. In our
judgment, the most neutrally worded polls
find a majority of young adults currently
oppose same-sex marriage, even as a
majority of college students now favor it.
The Senate Marriage Debate: A Summary 8/3/04
What do Americans think about
marriage? From Friday, July 9 through
Wednesday, July 14, 2004, the U.S. Senate
conducted a public debate on the Federal
Marriage Amendment.1 The speeches are an
unusual example of public debate about the
purpose of marriage, its place in the
Constitution and its role in our public life,
among other topics. What follows are
excerpts from all 50 senators who made
substantive speeches on the marriage
amendment during the July floor debate.
Is DOMA Enough? An Analysis 7/12/04
Do we need a constitutional amendment
to protect marriage? Some influential elites
question the need for a constitutional
amendment. As Senator Susan Collins (RMaine)
told the Boston Globe earlier this
year, "I don't at this point see the need for a
constitutional amendment as long as the
Defense of Marriage Act remains on the
For people who define the problem as
the involuntary spread of same-sex marriage
from one state to others, a key question
becomes: Are federal DOMA laws enough?
1000 Federal Benefits of Marriage? An Analysis of the 1997 GAO Report 5/26/04
In 1997, the General Accounting Office
(GAO) identified 1,049 federal laws "in which
marital status is a factor." In January 2004,
the GAO updated this report, identifying 1,138
incidents of marriage in federal law.3 These
are often loosely referred to in the press as
the 1,000 federal benefits of marriage,4
despite the 1997 GAO report's disclaimer
that "no conclusions can be drawn . . .
concerning the effect of [a] law on married
people versus single people. A particular
law may create either advantages or
disadvantages for those who are married, or
may apply to both married and single
The purpose of this report is to analyze
the 1997 GAO report and the 2004 update to
estimate the extent to which these 1,138
federal statutes confer significant marital
Same-Sex Unions and Divorce Risk Data from Sweden 5/3/04
A recent study offers the first systematic
review of same-sex unions and divorce rates
based on accurate national register data in
Sweden from the 1990's.1
The study found that gay male couples
were 1.5 times as likely (or 50 percent more
likely) to divorce as married opposite-sex
couples, while lesbian couples were 2.67
times as likely (167 percent more likely) to
divorce as opposite-sex married couples
over a similar period of time.2 Even after
controlling for demographic characteristics
associated with increased risk of divorce,
male same-sex couples were 1.35 times as
likely (35 percent more likely) to divorce,
and lesbian couples were three times as
likely (200 percent more likely) to divorce as
opposite-sex married couples.
Do Mothers and Fathers Matter? The Social Science Evidence on Marriage and Child Well-Being 2/27/04
Do children do best when they are raised
by their own married mother and fathers, or
are alternative family forms just as good at
protecting children? An emerging bi-partisan
consensus on marriage and child well-being is
being challenged by research on gay and
lesbian parenting, which some scholars and
advocates say shows that children do just as
well raised by unisex couples. How should
policymakers and other elites evaluate these
two competing bodies of evidence?
Polls on Civil Unions: iMAPP Public Opinion Round-Up 12/5/03
Summary of Opinion Research on
Civil Unions, Domestic Partnerships,
and Marital Benefits
Polls on SSM: iMAPP Public Opinion Round-Up 12/5/03
Summary of Opinion Research on