Gay Adoption

Find gay adoption statistics and learn the factors involved with gay couples adopting in each state.

1. Gay Adoption: America

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of children living with same-sex parents has doubled since 2000. How much of that is from adoption is not clear, but the emergence of a younger generation of gay-friendly biological parents emerges has increased that amount. Homophobia raised past controversy does not affect them. These progressive birth parents consider domestic stability, relationship quality and financial security.

However, if you are gay and wish to adopt, whether you are single or a couple matters most. Ironically, the same people who argue that children need two-parent homes do not extend that to gay parents. Even so, the number of states allowing gay couples to adopt has nearly tripled in six years. Utah and Mississippi alone still outlaw gay adoption, since Florida’s restriction was found unconstitutional. Every other state in America allows single gay and lesbian adults to adopt.

The real controversy over gay adoption in America arises over gay couples and the legal landscape still shifts continually – mostly in favor of gay adoption. Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and the District of Columbia allow gay or lesbian stepparents to adopt their partners’ children. Except for Pennsylvania, those states also allow any other same-sex couples to adopt, as do Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. North Dakota, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and New Hampshire specifically prohibit it. In other states judges decide on a case-by-case basis, so in those states you may have to incur the express of the process before you know if you can adopt or not.

Sources

Florida Domestic Partnership Law Blog (2012)

Gay-Adoption.us (2006)


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2. Issues In Deciding the Adoption Question

Definitive studies are needed that would follow larger numbers of children over a long period of time. This would establish reliable information on gay parenting and the effects (if any) on children.

Currently, research studies are contradictory and can be influenced by the individuals or organizations that finance the study. Studies linked with conservative groups and religion often show negative effects on children from gay households. Studies that support gay parenting are often accused of being biased, the researchers supporting gay rights.



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3. Factors In Adopting 

 

Gay and lesbian couples who want to have a family often turn to foster care and adoption as a way to receive children into their home. As of 2010, National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections reports that 4% of adopted children and 3% of foster children in the United States are living with same-sex parents. Yet same-sex couples may still face barriers.

State Laws

Some states laws prohibit gay couples from adopting or fostering children through that state's system, but these laws are increasingly being overturned. For example, Florida began allowing gay couples to adopt in November 2008. Adoption laws about individuals adopting a same-sex partner's child also vary.

Discriminatory Language

Adoption and foster care applications often have language that is not friendly to same-sex couples. For example, forms should say "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" rather than the gender-specific terms of mother and father.

Difficulty Getting Approved

The adoption and foster care process often includes a home visit and evaluation of the parents' abilities to raise children well. Even in states with laws that prohibit discrimination, gay couples still may fail evaluations for inexplicable reasons.



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4. Same Sex Adoption in the United States

One quarter of children living with same-sex couples in the United States have been adopted, according to a research guide from the Georgia State University College of Law. Despite the fact that many same-sex couples have been able to adopt, barriers to adoption still exist in several states. Sexual orientation is not a federally protected class the way that race and ethnicity are.

Some states have recently changed laws regarding same sex adoption. For example, in 2010, Florida overturned a ban that prevented gays and lesbians from adopting children. The Florida Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional and determined that it denied the "best interests of the child," according to CNN.

Same sex adoption proves to be an uphill battle in other states. For example, in Michigan, same sex couples cannot become parents of an adopted child together. Instead, only a single, unmarried person can adopt the child in that state. The state of Mississippi has a similar law, according to Human Rights Campaign. Arizona passed a law in 2011 that did not ban same-sex couples from adopting, but instead gave preference to heterosexual couples in the adoption process, according to the Independent Adoption Center.


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5. Step Parent Rights and Gay Marriage

Children of gay marriage are biologically related to, at most, one of their parents. As more states recognize same-sex marriage, those states' laws have provided more protection for the rights of non-biological parents. Determining parental rights is important, as it can help decide custody issues in the case of a divorce.

Because federal law does not yet recognize gay marriage, rights are determined at the state level and vary greatly. An important victory was achieved in January of this year when Iowa courts decided that the names of both same-sex parents should be included on the birth certificates of children born to a married couple. In other states, the non-biological parent can adopt to become the legal parent of their child.

In states where gay marriage is not legal, the legal rights of non-biological parents are fragile. According to Keen News Service, a judge in North Carolina voided a second-parent adoption in 2010. Similar cases have popped up throughout the country. Without the protection provided by marriage, the rights of thousands of parents are at the mercy of the whims of a judge.



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Gay Marriage Facts & Statistics

Find facts and statistics surrounding gay marriage including some gay marriage firsts.

1. Hawaii's Gay Wedding Attempts

Between March 1990 and June 1990, gay rights groups planning a lawsuit to gain legal marriage were involved in planning for the 1990 Hawaii Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade. As a form of protest, the group proposed that a large group of couples gather at the parade and be married by licensed ministers, before the beginning the lawsuit the next day. Thirty same-sex couples were recruited for the mass ceremony. Rev. Eugene Moore, pastor of the Ke Auenue O Ke Aloha Metropolitan Community Church and Rev. Troy Perry were lined up along with several others to perform the ceremonies. Because it was felt necessary to have legal support before the couples filed for marriage licenses, the mass wedding was scrapped.

Couples involved in the planned gay wedding attempt in Hawaii planned to be united by ordained ministers with traditional vows and exchange of rings.


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2. Schwarzenegger on Gay Marriage

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has attempted to give an impression of personal neutrality on the issue of gay marriage, but an examination of gay marriage facts indicate that he does not approve. The Governor vetoed California's same-sex marriage bill in 2005.

Schwarzenegger explained his action by stating that he believed that the bill was in essence illegal as it would have reversed the voter-backed 2000 definition that only a marriage between a man and a woman is legal in California. As California's gay community continues to fight for marriage, it remains to be seen whether the Governor will make is real stance clear.

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3. Gay Marriage Statistics

Opponent widely blast gay marriage as a detriment to the family unit, while at the same time declaring marriage to be the foundation of society. This contradiction implies that same-sex couples would, somehow, fail to succeed in marriage or benefit from the recognition given to heterosexual married couples by the government and society. Gay couples, it seems, disagree.

In the first six months since the legalization of gay marriage in New York State, more than 2,300 same-sex couples walked down the aisle outside of New York City, according to The New York Times. That number accounted for more than 7 percent of marriages that took place in the state, outside of the New York City metro area, during that same period.

Nationally, the first American Community Survey (ACS) reports on gay marriage from 2008 indicated that gay couples declared themselves married at a rate more than five times higher than the number of marriage licenses issued for gay marriages, according to “The Huffington Post.” This indicates that long-term gay couples view themselves as married – with the same commitment and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples, minus the perks – whether the law honors their relationships or not.

Statistics from the ACS also showed that a substantial number of same-sex households include children – nearly 27 percent of female same-sex household and nearly 14 percent of male same-sex households. So, if marriage is the foundation of society and the cornerstone of family life as gay marriage opponents claim, their position against it is as contradictory as their arguments.

Sources

“The New York Times” (2012)

“The Huffington Post” (2009)

U.S. Census Bureau (2011)

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4. Same Sex Marriage No Tax Break

In all, a same sex wedding provides few of the tax exemptions heterosexual couples are entitled to. As taxes are a state as well as federal issue in the US tax becomes more, rather than less, complicated for married American gay couples.

Although gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts gay couples still must pay their federal taxes as singles. Other taxes from which heterosexual couples are exempt, gay couples are still required to pay: heterosexual spouses can inherit each other's estates estate-tax-free and can give each other any amount tax-free while they are alive while gay married couples are limited to an $11,000 gift every year plus a total of $1 million in gifts over a lifetime. These discrepancies are due to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

There are ways that same-sex couples can provide for each other in the event of a death. Buying a life insurance policy and assigning it to a partner is considered a gift, so the giver can use the $11,000 annual gift to pay the yearly premiums. Gay spouses can also give some of the equity they have in a house to enable their partner to be a joint-owner, incurring no gift tax if the gift of the equity is diverted through a domestic partnership agreement. Inheritance taxes can be avoided by setting up a charitable remainder trust. Couples should speak to their accountant to explore the options available.


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5. Gay Marriage Firsts

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon have been in the forefront of the gay rights movement for decades, but they never thought they'd take their place in history because of it. In February of 2004, the couple had been together as a couple for more than 50 years. They lived together most of their adult lives and worked together for decades on lesbian rights issues. Although they are in a committed lifetime relationship, they never thought about marriage, considering it out of the realm of possibility.

On Wednesday, February 11, 2004, Phyllis Lyon got the call that would propel the couple into gay rights history. Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called to ask if the couple would be willing to stand up and be known as the first married gay couple in America. Lyon asked her partner and together they agreed to step up and take the plunge.

About 20 friends and family members gathered to watch the wedding ceremony, held at San Francisco City Hall on February 13. At 11:06 a.m., the two women were legally pronounced "spouses for life" to the cheers and tears of the attendees. The ceremony was small and quick to prevent adverse publicity and to avoid possible legal problems from gay rights opponents. This small beginning with a loving couple has today blossomed into a growing movement to require marriage equality for every person in every state in the union.


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6. Gay Sex in America

Gay male sex was criminal in nine states of America until 2003. In Lawrence v. Texas the Supreme Court accepted the argument that if heterosexual couples were allowed to engage in sex that wasn't penis-vaginal, it was discriminatory to ban two men from doing the same. The court found that grounds of moral disapproval were insufficient to criminalize sex acts between two consenting adults.

This argument opened up the issue of gay marriage. Justice Antonin Scalia suggested in his summation that if banning a sex act was discriminatory, the same argument applied to the social act of gaymarriage. The New York court found that Lawrence concerned 'private activity,' whereas one of the gay marriage facts was that marriage is an inherently public act.


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7. Interracial Marriage and Gay Marriage

The struggle for gay marriage has clear parallels to the former interracial marriage ban that was once in place in America. Groups supporting interracial marriage ban talked about the divine law regarding marriage and the immorality and unnatural unions of interracial marriage.

Forty American states, including Massachusetts, once prohibited interracial marriage. Massachusetts banned interracial marriage around 1705, removing the ban in 1843 after a three year debate in government. In 1948, the California Supreme Court was the first state supreme court to declare a ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional. The decision was controversial, with the judgment stating that banning races from intermarrying was an offence against human worth and dignity. At that time, 38 states still forbade interracial marriage. The remaining bans were struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1967.

The struggle for interracial marriage was won on an argument for civil rights, one very similar to arguments used by those striving for a same sex wedding.


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Gay Marriage Debate

Know the pros and cons of same sex marriage that are being cited in the gay marriage debate. Learn the rights of gay couples in California, New York, and Hawaii.

1. Gay Divorce Negates Marriage Need

The argument that gay marriage raises divorce rates is not panning out, according to an article on Findlaw by a Boston divorce attorney. A paper by Jonathan Eggleston of the University of Virginia also shows the same findings.

In fact, research from the newest census, along with studies from the Center for Disease Control’s National Vital Statistics System, shows that states allowing gay marriage have lower divorce rates. Of the eight states that allow same-sex marriage, five of those have the lowest divorce rates in the United States. Data taken from 2009 showed the average divorce rate at 41.2 percent, while states that did not allow same-sex marriage had an average divorce rate of 53.2 percent, not counting Nevada. Nevada skews the statistics because it performs so many out-of-state marriages in Las Vegas.

Two other states were not used in the data gathering because they allowed same-sex marriage after 2009; and those two states were Iowa and Vermont. It is possible that the divorce rate is lower in these states because eight of 10 states where males marry later in life also allow gay marriage. These states also show that males have a higher education level.

Eggleston found that research by Silver (2010) showed that states that allowed gay marriage had lower divorce rates. He also found that those states that found gay marriage unconstitutional had higher divorce rates. A 2009 study by Langbein and Yost found that the legalization of gay marriage did not have an effect on divorce rates. This could be possible because there were not as many states that legalized same-sex marriage in 2009 as there were in 2010.


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2. Cultural Pressures

In considering the pros and cons of same sex marriage, the cultural pressures on gay couples are rarely mentioned. Gay couples face a wealth of prejudice, including the assumption that gay men and lesbians are promiscuous and incapable of sustaining a committed relationship.

One reason to end the gay marriage ban is that gay marriage would further integrate gay culture into open society. In addition to legal obligations to care for spouses, there are also social expectations that make marriage a stabilizing element in a relationship. Society expects people to care for their spouses and stick with them through difficulties. Friends and acquaintances, family and work mates regularly check in on the health of a spouse and how the relationship is going. Divorce, although no longer socially crippling, is seen as a blow to confidence.



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3. Gay Marriage – the US Benefits

Obtaining gay marriage benefits is among the most legally advocated-for reasons to constitute gay marriage. Spousal benefits are where civil union and gay marriage begin to separate. A civil union has minimal legal implications behind it, which usually translates to a lack of the many benefits that heterosexual couples take for granted, such as medical, dental, tax, child support and life insurance.

While civil unions may grant certain state level benefits, no federal protections exist for them. This is, perhaps, the most predominant legally implicated rationale behind the need for gay marriage. Below are a few marriage-related benefits that gay couples miss out on in civil unions:

Medical Benefits

  • Partners cannot make medical decisions out of their home state.

Life Insurance

  • In the case of death, the deceased's partner gets no pension or life insurance, which would legally be granted to the spouse in a marriage.

Child Support

  • If the civil union is dissolved, no child support or spousal benefits are guaranteed out of state, which would otherwise be legally mandated in a marriage.

Tax Benefits

  • Those in a civil union can only file a joint tax return on the state level; no such joint tax return can be filed on the federal level.

Marriage features more than 1,000 federal and state level benefits. Civil unions feature only around 300 state level benefits with no federal implications.


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4. The San Francisco and California Gay Marriage Debate

San Francisco tested California's gay marriage laws in 2004 when the city began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Although the licenses were revoked, the San Francisco gay marriage action heated up the California gay marriage debate. Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco's Superior Court ruled that California's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional and likened the ban to racial segregation in schools.

Every couple deserves the right to the dignity and benefits that come with marriage, but most states in the United States deny same-sex couples equal rights, such as financial stability and the ability to make critical medical decisions for each other. Gay marriages occurred in California from May to November of 2008, but they are currently on hold as California continues the debate that has already lasted more than a decade.

California, a traditionally tolerant and liberal state, currently allows gay couples to enter domestic partnerships, according to Human Rights Campaign. You have the state-granted legal rights and responsibilities of marriage, but other states may not recognize your status.

The arguments heated in 2000, when California allowed same-sex partners to receive health insurance coverage and hospital visitation rights, according to the “Los Angeles Times.” In the same year, 61 percent of voters approved a statement that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman. A series of steps forward and setbacks occurred over the next several years. In 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legalization of gay marriage, but gay marriage began in 2008 when the California Supreme Court ruled that the veto denied equal protection under the law.

Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, is the most recent driving force behind the debate. Voters approved the measure in 2008, but a series of legal battles ensued to oppose and support the law. In 2010, San Francisco Chief Judge Vaughn Walker rejected Proposition 8, but proponents argued that Judge Walker had a stake in the case because he was gay. In 2011, Chief U.S. District Court Judge James Ware agreed with the decision to reject Proposition 8. Currently, legal stays are preventing gay marriages to move forward.

Gay marriage is not officially illegal in California, but same-sex couples are not currently able to obtain marriage licenses because of the legal debate over Proposition 8. Gay couples can obtain domestic partnership status as you wait to see how the court battles unravel.


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5. Gay Marriage in New York

The debate over same-sex marriage in New York State has a long, eventful history. Within the last 10 years, the biggest spark to the push for gay marriage came in 2004, when the mayor of New Paltz, New York performed 25 same-sex wedding ceremonies in the town, according to the Liberty Counsel. That action prompted one mayor of another small town to declare that his town would recognize the validity of same-sex marriages that were performed elsewhere. A judge later barred these ceremonies from being performed and while charges were initially raised against the mayor of New Paltz, they were eventually dropped.

The gay marriage debate picked up even more steam four years later, when in March 2008, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned from his post. He was succeeded by David Patterson, who committed himself to making same-sex marriage legal throughout all of New York State, according to “The New York Times.” According to a May 2008, article published in the “Times,” Patterson issued a mandate requiring all New York state jurisdictions to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Although this was met with initial opposition, a judge upheld the mandate.

The heat turned up on the gay marriage debate when Patterson entered into office, causing both sides to discuss the merits of such a policy change as the potential to allow same-sex marriage became more realistic. Ultimately, the New York State Assembly had to pass a same-sex marriage bill four times between 2009 and 2011 before the New York Senate finally approved the bill in 2011. In July of 2011, the Marriage Equality Act was enacted, making gay marriage legal in New York State.

Today, gay marriage continues to be legal in New York, although many opponents to the institution remain. While debate over the merits of gay marriage may continue, it is likely that gay marriage will continue to be upheld in New York.



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6. Gay Marriage and Religious Freedom

Anti gay marriage groups often argue that allowing gay marriage, which is against the teachings of many churches, is an impediment of religious freedom. This argument comes from a misunderstanding of marriage and, indeed, the law. In order to guarantee freedom of belief and religion, governments separate the state from religion. Laws are designed to allow people to act according to their beliefs. The benefits that a government bestows on married couples are a part of law.

Marriage, for social purposes, is a civil and religious event. In some ceremonies, the two are celebrated at once, but couples must always undergo a civil marriage in order for the marriage to be considered legal. Religious wedding ceremonies unite the couple in the eyes of that religion's deity.

In legalizing gay marriage states and countries are establishing laws that allow gay civil marriages. It is up to each church to decide whether or not gay unions are acceptable within their doctrine, and establish rites.



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7. Hawaii Gay Marriage

The national gay-marriage debate started in Hawaii. In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court in Baehr v. Miike ruled that the law against same-sex marriage might be unconstitutional sex discrimination. While this decision did not make same-sex marriage legal, it did unleash a backlash. In 1998, a constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to ban same-sex marriages passed with almost 70 percent of the vote.

Over the next decade, the tide of public opinion started to turn. In 2010, a bill creating civil unions for both same- and different-sex couples passed the state legislature, but then-Governor Linda Lingle vetoed it. The next year, the legislature again passed a similar bill, and this time there was a new governor – Neil Abercrombie – who was eager to sign it. During the signing ceremony in February 2011, he said, to the cheers of the crowd, "This bill represents equal rights for everyone in Hawaii, everyone who comes here. This is to me the essence of the aloha spirit."

An October 2011 survey by Public Policy Polling found that 40 percent of Hawaiians thought that gay couples should be allowed to legally marry, 37 percent thought gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not marry and only 22 percent thought there should be no legal representation of a gay couple's relationship.

That civil-unions bill went into effect on January 1, 2012. Meanwhile, the fight has returned to the courts, where a lawsuit challenging the state's no-same-sex-marriage law is pending.


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Gay Marriage Resources

Find gay marriage resources including advice on preparing for your gay wedding and finding a same sex wedding gift registry.

1. Hawaii Gay Marriage Resources

Gay rights groups in Hawaii have been fighting for the legalization of gay marriage since 1980. Gay groups have developed the Gay Marriage Bureau as a resource for couples looking to get hooked in Hawaii, providing information on the history of the struggle in Hawaii and a list of resources for couples looking to wed.

Although gay marriage has not been legalized in Hawaii, the Gay Marriage Bureau maintains an inspiringly positive attitude on the issue. An article on gay marriage on the Bureau's website refers to 'when' gay marriage will be legalized, offering couples the opportunity to register their interest in having their gay marriages certified by the Bureau once the law is passed.

The Bureau has a registry of licensed ministers, rabbis, and other celebrants that are willing to perform same-sex unions. The site also functions as a registry of marriage industry businesses that will provide services for same-sex couples looking to get married in Hawaii, as well as resources for other states.


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2. Finance in Gay Marriage

Couples considering a legal gay marriage or who are in a committed partnership should look carefully into the financial and legal provisions they can make to protect themselves.

In an article on gay marriage, a financial planner from gay-friendly firm PridePlanners recommends that gay couples keep records of all their forms submitted and other relevant documents. She advises that couples who get a Massachusetts wedding license should not cancel the documents they set up before they were married, such as powers of attorney, healthcare proxies, trusts, wills and appointment of guardians, advising that caution is the best path. Spouses should make the same financial provisions they would have before marriage was possible, to ensure their partner will be looked after in the event of a death.

A similar rule applies for all legal precautions gay couples take, such as hospital visitation authorizations. An Oakland lawyer advises that until their marriage has been upheld in an appellate court, it's better for gay couples to assume that it won't be.


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3. Lesbian Bachelorette Party Resources

What articles on same sex marriage never discuss is hosting bachelor/ette parties for the soon-to-be spouses? There are established traditions for hen's nights, but very few of the traditional events in a bridal shower hold appeal when the partners are both brides.

Bachelorette parties are a time to farewell single life, usually through an excess of debauchery. Mainstream resources for bachelorette parties are generally heavy on alcohol and male strippers and have yet to catch up with the need for lesbian bachelorettes.

When planning a lesbian bachelorette party, think creatively. If going for debauchery, don't be afraid to look through local adult stores for interesting toys, gifts and entertainment. Advise guests to ransack lingerie stores to provide the bachelorette with a gorgeous lingerie collection for her honeymoon.

Remember that a lesbian wedding has two brides, both of whom need separate send-offs, so when planning a friend's lesbian bachelorette party make sure her partner has her own party to go to.

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4. Charity Gift Registries for Gay Weddings

You may have decided that you would prefer friends donate to a charity instead of buying a gift for your gay wedding, but how do you organize the charity gifts? Organizing a wedding involves enough tasks without having to coordinate donations to charity, and guests will want to provide you with a token of the donation made in your name.

Couples can now access charitable gift registries to allow friends to choose from a list of charitable foundations and make a donation. The registries work much the same way as a regular gift registry, with the couple selecting the organizations they would like donations made to, and friends accessing the list to choose from the selections.

Couples should keep an eye out in articles on same sex marriage for charitable gift registries. Some registries offer a gift registry as well as a donation registry, or provide an option for items to be donated (such as unwanted used wedding clothes) to benefit the organization.


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5. How To Find Gay Wedding Gift Registries

There are a few specifically gay wedding gift registries popping up here and there, most of them located on the net. Although an increasing amount of mainstream retailers are aiming for the pink dollar these days very few mainstream registries have specifically gay options, so couples should do their research before deciding on the registry for them.

The oldest specifically-gay gift registry is the Rainbow Wedding Network, which has been operating since 2000. The Rainbow Wedding Network provides an online gift registry with an assortment of stores to choose gifts from. The registry has around 4000 stores registered and screens the stores for gay-friendliness before adding them to the registry. Most of the stores are non-mainstream and have unusual gifts available. Check for more gay gifts ideas.

Articles on same sex marriage note that specifically-gay registries often support stores that support the gay community, so if couples are interested in traditional as well as alternative gifts they should consider multiple registries. Couples should also remember that they can register with individual stores, so should consider approaching their favorite home-wares or gay jewelry stores for options.


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6. Help With Costs

As gift selection becomes more and more difficult for friends trying to help celebrate a gay wedding, couples shouldn't be too scared or embarrassed to consider asking for help with their honeymoon costs as part of their wedding gifts. There are several ways for couples to organize help with honeymoon costs without having to resort to asking for cash in the wedding card envelope.

A honeymoon registry is a one way to let friends help out with travel costs. The best way to find information on honeymoon registries is to look in gay wedding resource sites or an article on gay marriage. Couples divide the elements of the trip into components like flight, hotel, meals, spa treatments, excursions, so that they become manageable costs friends can contribute toward. Friends can add a personal touch by buying the element they most want to give. Although there are not many gay-specific honeymoon registry companies, many are gender neutral when signing up. When using a non-gay-specific registry, however, couples should check that the honeymoon destinations they select, and particularly accommodation options, are gay-friendly.

Another option couples should consider is travel vouchers and debit cards. Travel vouchers are available from some travel agents and are a good way for friends to subtly take some of the financial pressure out of the honeymoon plans. Debit cards are cash-free money that usually can be used world-wide, and come in handy for the numerous costs while traveling.


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7. Bible Resources for Gay Marriage

Opponents of gay marriage frequently bring up the Bible in support of their arguments. Although any article on gay marriage will bring up the Christian arguments against gay marriage, the Bible quotes supporting these arguments are rarely investigated.

In truth, the Bible does not mention gay marriage, mainly because in the time it was written the concept was unheard of. There are several sections that do concern marriage, including a reference that a man may take several wives, and a man is obligated to marry his brother's widow (something Henry VIII famously re-interpreted for his own purposes). Sections of the Bible that have been quoted to support arguments that marriage is only between a man and a woman are actually interpretations of passages – for instance, Genesis has been argued to lay down the law on the issue, but really only describes a story of one marriage without laying down any rules.

If an article on gay marriage cites a Bible passage in support of an anti-gay marriage argument, look it up. The Bible, although generally considered an authoritative text to use in a moral argument, is often quoted using a biased interpretation.


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8. Gay Wedding Etiquette

Gay wedding etiquette takes most of its leads from traditional wedding etiquette. Although wedding etiquette has subtle changes from culture to culture, there are some common social rules that it pays to observe to maintain harmony before, on, and after the wedding day. Couples should check articles on gay marriage for updates.

When sending out invitations, consider who you want invited guests to be allowed to bring and word the invitation accordingly. If you don't want children at the wedding, for example, leave their names off the invitation or include the term 'adult reception' instead of bluntly stating that children aren't allowed. Invite each member of a family by name, issuing a separate invitation for each child over 18, or add 'and a guest' for friends with unknown partners.

It is considered impolite to mention gifts on the wedding invitation, but friends can be informed of your gift registry on the grapevine or on the wedding shower invitations.

The latest edition of Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette book has a section on same-sex weddings and notes that common social rules say that friends have up to a year to give newlyweds a wedding gift. Wedding gifts don't have to be opened in front of everyone (or even at the reception), but should be acknowledged, usually with a formal note of thanks that can be delivered up to several months after the wedding.


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Gay Marriage Laws

Gay Marriage Laws

Learn about gay marriage laws, gay marriage amendments and other legal issues affecting gay and lesbian couples.

1. Court vs. Legislature in Gay Marriage Debate 

Most of the action taken in the gay marriage debate has been through court cases mounted by gay couples who demand the right to marry or to have their foreign marriage recognized in their home country. An important aspect of couples bringing cases to court is that these cases challenge courts, and the governments that support them, to justify their stands on gay marriage through the law. If courts and governments cannot establish that an argument against gay marriage is justified legally, they can be sued for discrimination.

The winning of a court case does not guarantee that gay marriage will be made legal in that area. Court decisions are separate from governmental legislation, which is what controls marriage law. A court decision can be used to pressure a government to pass legislation in the usual course of events. However, in most cases where the gay couple has won, that decision has been overturned during an extensive appeal process.

The cases against existing marriage laws are important as they are slowly building up legal precedent. The legal system in most countries operates on precedent – if a judge has said or decided something before, it can be used to argue that another judge should also do so. Gay rights groups and gay-friendly judges are aware of this, as a recent finding in New York shows.

New York Supreme Court Judge Doris Ling-Cohen found that 'moral disapproval of same-sex couples or of individual homosexuals is not a legitimate state purpose or a rational reason for depriving plaintiffs of their right to choose their spouse.' She also noted that the frequently-used 'marriage is for procreation' argument falls down because the law does not ban women past child-bearing age from marrying.

As the cases world wide slowly build up, couples fighting for gay marriage may soon have their chance to exchange vows and gay wedding rings.


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2. Case Samples of Gay Marriage Law Tests

In 2008, Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to allow for same sex marriage. Besides the truly feel-good emotion that husbands and wives enjoy in same sex marriage, there are very practical aspects to the equality same sex couples have under the law.

Same sex spouses can now authorize emergency medical treatment for one another. Property can be inherited without excruciating amounts of documentation to explain relationships that frequently underwent challenges from blood relatives. Also, as a recognized family unit, same sex married couples gain by eligibility for less-expensive health insurance.

Hardcore conservatives still oppose the legality of sex same marriage, staunchly supporting the view that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. However, over the past four years, most of the state's residents now take same sex marriage as the norm. The state even allows out-of-state couples to marry in Massachusetts. The acceptance of same sex marriage in Massachusetts is proven by the true story of a kindergarten student whose teacher was recently married. The little girl noticed the new wedding band and asked her teacher, “Did you marry a boy or a girl?”

Two studies conducted five years after the law went into effect strongly suggest that same sex marriage had a beneficial impact on the state financially. Despite this The Massachusetts Family Institute commissioned a poll at about the time the two studies’ results were published. The Institute claims that 44 percent of Massachusetts voters opposed same sex marriage and 43 percent were in favor of it.

Overall, the Massachusetts experience appears to be successful.


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3. Freedom of Religion

As some states across the country debate whether or not to legalize gay marriage, many people question what impact the legalization of gay marriage will have on religious freedom. It is well known that many religious institutions and organizations oppose gay marriage and would not perform these ceremonies in their church – but how far can their opposition go?

According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, proponents of gay marriage claim that while religious institutions have the right to refuse to marry gay couples they cannot discriminate gay couples in other mediums. For instance, if a religious institution runs an adoption agency, they should not be allowed to refuse a child to a homosexual couple hoping to raise a child strictly based on their sexuality. However, many supporters feel that because of religious freedom, clergy members do have the right to create their own criteria for marriage ceremonies that are performed in their particular institutions and also have the right to preach about their own marriage beliefs.

When it comes to the legalization of gay marriage, the states have to ensure that antidiscrimination laws are clear, but also that freedom of religion is preserved. It is a thin line to cross, but ultimately, everyone should still have the right to practice the religion they choose – no matter what their age, race, gender or sexuality. It is an issue that should remain at the forefront of debates as legislators across the country consider the legalization of gay marriage.

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4. Legal Parallels to the Gay Marriage Issue

Activists often compare the struggle for gay rights to the civil rights movement. The two movements certainly have their differences, but they share a basic struggle for equality. Just as the civil rights movement began with a battle to end de jure segregation, or segregation ordained by the law, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community continues to fight discriminatory laws.

Both groups also have learned the importance of patience. African-American slaves may have been set free by the Emancipation Proclamation, but their United States continued to stifle their legal rights for another hundred years. Likewise, the LGBT community's progress has been slow.

The gay rights movement recently found momentum as a result of the recent repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT). This law forced gays serving in the military to hide their sexual orientation. Those even suspected of being gay could be immediately discharged. Members of the LGBT community hope that the repeal of DADT will start the ball rolling on gay rights, just as the integration of the military spurred a huge turnaround for the civil rights effort during the post-war years.

The next big legal hurdle for the gay community is same-sex marriage. In recent years, states such as Connecticut and New York have opened up marriage to same-sex couples. However, statistics from the National Conference of State Legislatures reveals that during the same period, other states pushed through amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The fight for marriage equality is no cake walk, but with work, gay rights activists may soon enjoy the equality they've been working so hard to obtain.


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5. The Defense of Marriage Act

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law. The legislation was a response to demands from gay and lesbian activists for the legalization of same-sex marriage. This was an election year and the Republican candidates loudly proclaimed that marriage referred only to a union between a man and a woman. Incumbents worried that non-support of the DOMA would end their political careers.

The DOMA codifies the federal government’s denial of same-sex marriages in regards to federal laws and programs. It allows the federal government to override any state laws permitting same-sex marriages. This means that a federal employee’s spouse in a same-sex marriage is denied the benefits that a spouse in a heterosexual marriage would receive, including insurance coverage, Social Security survivor’s benefits and coverage under the Family and Medical Leave law.

On April 4, 2012, the first challenge to the constitutionality of DOMA was heard in the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. A faction of U.S. House of Representatives Republicans appealed the July 2010 decisions by Judge Joseph L. Tauro in U.S. District Court upholding the plaintiffs’ contention in two separate cases that DOMA is unconstitutional because it treats some married couples differently than others. The House members were forced to appeal the decision as a result of the decision by President Barack Obama’s administration to stop defending DOMA in appeals cases.

Gay rights activists hope that more challenges will take DOMA to the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling on its constitutionality.

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6. Gay Marriage Amendment

While the United States federal government does not currently recognize same-sex marriage, individual states have addressed the issue through legislation. In 2004, Massachusetts approved gay marriage, becoming the first state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Since then, Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts have also legalized same-sex marriage. The Suquamish Indian tribes of Oregon and Washington have also given approval. Currently, the states of Washington and Maryland have pending legislation approving same-sex marriage, but final approval could be delayed pending a voter referendum.

In June 2008, California approved gay marriage, but in November 2008, voters repealed the action with the passage of Proposition 8 that prohibits same-sex marriages. As of 2012, laws for same-sex marriage has been set through state legislatures, rather than with a public vote.

The movement for same-sex marriage rights began in the U.S. in the 1970s as a political issue. The Hawaii Supreme Court decided in 1993 through Baehr v Lewinthat a ban could be in violation of their state's constitution, thus prompting the federal government to pass the Defense of Marriage Act, opening the door for individual state legislation.

The support of same-sex marriage has grown considerably in recent years, with polls showing a vast majority of Americans supporting it. According to ProCon.org, as of February 2012, 10 countries outside the U.S. have also legalized same-sex marriage, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Argentina, Iceland, and Portugal. Currently, gay couples are also allowed to marry in parts of Mexico and Brazil.


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Opposition to Gay Marriage

Learn about the arguments against gay marriage, efforts to ban gay marriage by state, and the Pope's stance on gay marriage.

1. Virginia's Marriage Ban

Although Virginia does not prohibit same-sex sexual activity within the state, it does not currently allow same-sex couples to marry or form a civil union. At the end of 2006, Virginia voters passed an amendment to the state constitution that restricted marriages to heterosexual couples. Because of this law, marriages between partners of the same sex will not be performed or recognized within the state.

Public opinion on same-sex marriage in Virginia is somewhat divided. According to a poll conducted by the Washington Post in 2011, 47 percent of Virginians are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriages, while 43 percent are opposed. The remaining 10 percent of people polled had no opinion on the issue. In December 2011, a Public Policy Polling survey determined that 59 percent of voters in Virginia support the legal recognition of same-sex couples, regardless of whether they are allowed to marry.


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2. US Presidents and the Anti Gay Marriage Movement

The controversy over gay marriages has been raging for many years in both public and political circles. The public viewpoints that American presidents such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have taken on this subject have greatly influenced federal and state laws on the same. In 1996, Bill Clinton took an anti-gay stance by signing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which officially defined marriage on a national level as a union between a man and woman. President George W. Bush, though proclaiming non-opposition to gay marriage, supported Clinton’s stance through his Federal Marriage Amendment. As a result of these two bills, the United States government today does not officially recognize the union of same-sex marriages.

In contrast, President Obama announced in July 2011 that he would support a bill to repeal the DOMA on the grounds that it violated aspects of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. Hence, the controversy continues. Meanwhile, eight states plus the District of Colombia have taken matters into their own hands by choosing to legalize gay marriages on a state level. Thirty states retain constitutional amendments which ban gay marriages on a state level.

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3. Catholic Stance Against Gay Marriage

The Catholic Church maintains a strong opposition to gay marriage. Pope Benedict XVI leads this highly influential religious body in stating that marriage should only occur between a man and a woman and that sex should only occur within marriage.

Catholic doctrine holds that the complementary union of male and female in marriage intrinsically reflects the nature of God in a way that homosexual marriage cannot. It also holds that one of the primary purposes of marriage is to build the family unit through procreation. The Church opposes homosexual relationships, abortion and contraception because they inhibit this purpose.

While the official stance has been unyielding, popular support for gay marriage has been growing among Catholics. A “Washington Post”/ABC News poll found that 63 percent of American Catholics support the idea of legalizing gay marriage. One key area to watch is how American bishops will navigate the growing tension between popular opinion and the Church's official stance.

Sources

The Vatican (2012)

“The Washington Post” (2011)

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4. Nebraska's Gay Marriage Ban

When Nebraska introduced an amendment that banned gay marriage, supporters of gay marriage fought to have the amendment revoked.

The amendment bans legal recognition of same sex relationships including domestic partnerships, and struck out the other basic protections that groups had managed to win for gay couples.

One group who lost an appeal of the move against gay marriage may still take the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but others argue that doing so, and making a federal issue out of Nebraska 's ban, could harm the appeals that are being mounted against laws in other states.


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5. Gay Parents and the Paedophilia Fallacy

One argument brought up by those against gay marriage is that children are at risk of being sexually molested by their gay male parents, due to the men's attraction to males.

This argument comes from a lack of understanding of sexual psychology. Sexual orientation is defined as an adult attraction to other adults. Paedophilia, however, is a form of sexual perversion, separate from that person's sexual orientation. There is no legitimate scientific research connecting homosexuality and paedophilia.

A study of child sex abuse showed that in cases involving molestation of a boy by a man, 74 percent of the men studied were or had been in a relationship with the boy's mother or another close female relative.

Researchers say that "a child's risk of being molested by his or her relative's heterosexual partner is over one hundred times greater than by someone who might be identifiable as being homosexual."


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6. Gay Parenting.

 

 

While gay parenting has been the focal point of some bashing, specifically from the Catholic Church and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum. However, some studies have now revealed that gay parents may actually be better than some heterosexual parents. Here is the reasoning behind that thought:

According to a psychologist at Clark University, Abbie Goldberg, gay parents can be more committed to the child since they made the mental assessment to go and get a child. It was not an accidental pregnancy, but one well-thought out.

A 2011 Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute report showed that gay and lesbian couples who adopt also tend to adopt those children who are considered harder to place. They have a high percentage of adoptions for older children, special needs children and children of different races.

So while there may always be some form of discrimination on gay adoption, for the children it seems like a winning solution. They're wanted, cared for and not stuck in foster homes until their age of emancipation.


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For Gay Marriage

Learn about the arguments for gay marriage, the rights of gay partners, rainbow jewelry, and the celebrities that have taken a pro gay marriage stance.

1. Pride and Rainbow Jewelry

The colors used in pride jewelry reference the rainbow pride flag, which was introduced as a symbol of gay pride in the late seventies. Each color stands for a characteristic of the gay community. In the original flag there was pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit.

The original flag had to be changed when flags went into mass production, as the printer couldn't get hot pink or turquoise, and the indigo was replaced with royal blue. The flag for the bisexual community uses the pink symbolism, blending into blue and purple to represent the shared love and openness of bisexuality. Pride jewelry uses the colors of the rainbow flag as an immediately recognizable symbol of gay pride.



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2. The Rainbow Flag and Gay Marriage Rights

The rainbow flag has been used as a rallying point for gay rights since the late seventies. Gay groups had been fighting for gay rights for many years before the flag was designed for San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day parade.

The flag has been used to rally support for gay rights issues and fight prejudice. Although many rights have been won and prejudices overcome, what has emerged is a cultural attitude to homosexuality as something separate from normal society. Part of the fight for gay marriage is for acknowledgment that gay couples are just like any other couple. Use of the rainbow pride flag links the struggle for gay marriage with struggles won, such as the discrimination against gay man through antiquated sodomy laws. Designers include gay pride rings in their collection of gay marriage jewelry for couples to display their pride in being a gay couple.



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3. Visitation Rights for Illness

One of the arguments for gay marriage is that marriage will ensure visitation rights and next-of-kin rights for gay couples in the case of illness. Many couples have experienced unnecessary trauma when one partner is ill, as, because there is no formal recognition of their relationship, hospitals do not consider partners next of kin.

Far more serious consequences occur when families who do have next-of-kin rights prevent a partner from visiting. In these instances, loving couples have been forced apart due to family prejudices.

It is important that both partners in a gay couple create legal documents to enable their partner to access them in the case of illness. However, the fact that these rights are not automatic, as they are for heterosexual couples, is a form of discrimination.



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4. Gay Marriage and Fidelity

An argument for gay marriage is that it will have an affect on the spread of AIDS in the gay community. Studies show that marriage is a stabilizing element in a relationship. Although couples can be committed without being married, the history and traditions of marriage in culture have created a support system for married couples.

The ideas surrounding marriage in culture also place pressure on spouses to support their partner, struggle to remain together and be faithful. If these things do not happen, friends, family, work colleagues and acquaintances will show their disapproval. This ultimately has a positive effect on the relationships in marriage. The risk of sexually transmitted diseases spreading is amplified by the number of sexual partners people have in communities, which is why the gay community has experienced a disproportionate toll from AIDS. Gay marriage provides the extra support and cultural recognition of validity needed for gay relationships to flourish.



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5. Rosie O'Donnell Bags Bush on Gay Marriage

Rosie O'Donnell showed her support for gay marriage when she married long-time partner Kelli Carpenter in San Francisco in 2004. The event was turned into a strong political statement when Rosie announced her intention to marry in a television interview the morning before she and Kelli hopped a plane to San Francisco and rushed straight to city hall.

In the interview, Rosie criticized President Bush for his failure to support gay marriage and gay rights. She was later criticized by the media for turning her marriage into a political event.

Rosie O'Donnell has a history of advocacy for gay rights, quitting her talk show in order to publicly come out as a lesbian and frequently speaking out for support for gay adoption rights.



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6. Gay Marriage and Healthy Culture

A study of history shows that there has been a gay community for a very long time. Studies of gay culture show the extent people have gone to in order to protect their safety while participating in an outlawed gay culture. These methods include secret codes, knowledge of clothing codes, and even a secret language known as 'polari.' This segregation of gay culture and shaming of people because of their sexuality did not result in a healthy mainstream society.

Continuing to deny that gay families are a part of normal society is a similarly unhealthy act. In denying gay couples the right to marry, governments and legislators are segregating them from mainstream culture. Being pro gay marriage is not so much about embracing gay culture as advocating an open and healthy society.



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Gay Wedding Ceremonies

Learn about gay wedding ceremonies including Jewish, Baptist, Anglican and other religious gay wedding ceremonies.

1. Gay Jewish Ceremony

Same-sex marriage is not supported in orthodox Judaism, but like most religions there are Rabbis that are willing to support a couple's union despite sexual orientation or interfaith issues.

American Rabbi Miriam Jerris advocates Secular Humanist Judaism and has adapted the Jewish wedding ceremony for gay couples. The different belief systems of Secular Humanist Judaism means that although religious traditions are incorporated into the gay wedding ceremony, the focus is on the human aspects of their union rather than on any particular religion.

Rabbi Jerris says that couples should select parts of the Jewish gay wedding ceremony that reflect the backgrounds of the couple, and incorporating rituals or symbols from their respective cultural or religious upbringings. In a typical Jewish-Christian gay wedding ceremony, for example, couples use achuppah, or wedding canopy, and the ceremony involves the drinking of wine, a unity candle, readings, and a breaking of the glass. The significance, symbolism, and origins of these traditions is explained by the Rabbi to the gathered guests.

For Jewish couples, Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann, also American, has adapted a traditional ceremony that acknowledges the different relationship of the gay couple while staying close to the religious traditions of a Jewish wedding.

Couples should talk to their local temple or contact gay-friendly Jewish groups for information on a Rabbi to conduct a gay Jewish wedding ceremony.


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2. Pagan Ceremonies

Pagan wedding ceremonies, often called 'handfastings,' are a good option for couples who wish to celebrate the spirituality of their union without getting involved in the minutia of religious debate. Paganism is a religion that celebrates the holiness of nature. Worshippers do not follow a formal doctrine, and although committed Pagans gather to worship together the religion for many is more about an attitude to spirituality and the world.

A gay Pagan ceremony is fairly easy to organize. Couples can choose to track down a Pagan celebrant or instruct their own celebrant on how to conduct the ceremony. The celebrant will invoke the blessing of the God and Goddess, which are acknowledged to come in thousands of forms. The couple light a candle to honor the gods and signify the beginning of their new life. The couple may further invoke the blessings of the spirits by saying 'blessed be'. The celebrant will then conduct the handfasting ritual, asking the couple to join hands and wrapping the joined hands in a strip of red cloth. Gay couples may choose to have a rainbow hand fasting, using gay accessories of strips of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple cloth to represent the chakras and their sexuality. The couple then exchange vows, asking the sky and earth to bestow the union with their elements.

Couples who are interested in traditional paganism may choose to include a broom, to sweep away past hurts, and a chalice of wine, to represent their combined spirits. Pagan gay wedding ceremonies are particularly suited to the range of gay accessories available at the moment. Jewelry pieces that use color or flowing, circular designs will further invoke the elements of nature to bless the union of the gay couple.


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3. Gay American Baptist Ceremonies

The gay American Baptist church has rites in place for the blessing of same sex unions. Pastor Howard Bess of the church has designed a gay Baptist ceremony which stresses the teachings of Jesus and the passages of the Bible which talk of the value of love. The ceremony begins with a statement acknowledging the 'rightness and holiness' of the couple's relationship. Passages of the Bible are read which speak of the holy union of love, ending with a passage from I Corinthians which enforces the message of the strength of love: 'Even though I speak in the tongues of human beings and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.

'If I have powers of prophecy and understand all mysteries and if I know everything, and if I have so much faith that I can move mountains, and do not know how to love, I am nothing. If I give away everything that I have and do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.'

The couple then exchanges promises. Couples can choose whether to include a gay design in their wedding rings or go with a traditional ring. The ceremony can close with the traditional kiss if desired.

Couples choosing a gay design for their wedding rings do not have to give up traditional designs. When looking for gay wedding rings, couples should keep an eye out for designers who incorporate traditional, classic features in rings that also have a gay element, such as the pink triangle represented in a gem.


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4. Anglican Gay Ceremonies

The Anglican church is one of the few churches in the world that has a section fully supporting gay marriage. The official policy of the Anglican church opposes same-sex unions, but clergy in the Diocese of New Westminster, in Vancouver in Canada were authorized to perform a rite of blessing for same sex unions by their bishop, Bishop Michael Ingham. The rite is different to a marriage ceremony, which the bishop held was still only for heterosexual couples, but is 'a blessing of permanent and faithful commitments between persons of the same sex in order that they may have the support and encouragement of the church in their lives together under God,' according to the bishop. Couples still exchange vows and same sex wedding rings.

The Episcopal bishop of Washington, Bishop John B. Chane, is developing rites for same-sex marriages for the 94 churches in his diocese. Liturgical rites have been in use for some time in the diocese, but Bishop Chane wants a rite that can be uniformly used. Couples can choose between contemporary, classic, gay pride and traditional designs for same sex wedding rings to exchange as part of their Anglican wedding ceremony.

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5. Buddhist Gay Ceremonies

Because Buddhism is a practice more than a strict faith, gay couples who practice Buddhism should talk to their local gurus for recommendations on wedding ceremonies. The Internet, gay marriage groups and lesbian and gay fashion magazines will also provide ideas of texts to feature and ceremonies to use.

One couple, gay men who live in the US , used the Metta Sutra for their ceremony. The Buddhist song 'Free and Easy' was sung, recommending that souls 'Don't go into the tangled jungle looking for the great awakened elephant, who is already resting quietly at home in front of your own hearth.' 
Couples can choose Buddhist texts and meditations that have meaning to their union. A Buddhist celebrant can be found by contacting local temples or gay marriage groups.

A couple interested in an alternative ceremony may feel that a wedding ring is inappropriate for their marriage. A gay neck chain or other gay jewelry is an equally recognizable sign of a couple's commitment. Couples should browse gay fashion for options.


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6. Roman Catholic Gay Wedding Ceremonies

Orthodox Catholicism does not approve of homosexuality. One Catholic group in America , Dignity USA , was formed for gay Catholics to continue to observe their faith without fear of discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

Dignity USA has developed a Catholic gay wedding ceremony that may be used if at least one partner is a member of the church. The ceremony uses religious and cultural traditions, scripture, prayer, Eucharist, and other symbols, to present the couple to their community.

If a couple is a member of Dignity USA , the group will help to organize a community-recognized Presider to bless the union. This is the only way for a Holy Union to be a valid and recognized covenant in the eyes of the DignityUSA community. The marriage will then be recorded in the DignityUSA National Couples Registry. Both partners must be of age, not currently married or committed, and at least one member must be a member of Dignity USA .

Couples who wish to recognize their Catholic heritage without being members of the Dignity congregation should talk to their local church for information on the Catholic marriage ceremony. Although the union may not be blessed in the church, elements could be used in a gay and lesbian fashion to celebrate the union.

Couples interested in a Catholic ceremony should not rule out gay or lesbian fashion for their wedding clothes and jewelry. Gay and lesbian fashion stores and gay jewelers often provide a range of traditional options for gay and lesbian weddings.

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7. Gay Wedding Chapel at Las Vegas

There is one gay wedding chapel in Las Vegas, which provides everything spectacular and just plain tacky that a couple could want for their gay wedding ceremony. The chapel is owned by two gay partners and is solely devoted to lesbian and gay weddings. The chapel offers a range of ceremonies, including elegant, traditional ceremonies and that best of Las Vegas traditions, the Elvis wedding.

The chapel looks like an adobe mission, with wooden beams and a vaulted ceiling as well as stained glass windows. The aisle is long enough to accommodate long wedding trains for brides who are interested in going completely traditional, and the chapel can accommodate up to 100 guests. Florist services can be arranged in-house and packages include photography and a video of the wedding. For drama queens, the chapel has theatrical lighting, smoke effects, sets, and costumed characters. The owners also operate the Las Vegas Gay Hotel .


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8. Secular Ceremonies

Couples can choose to have a secular ceremony if they feel their faiths would conflict, if they have no particular faith or if they particularly want an agnostic or atheistic ceremony. One good thing about a secular ceremony is that you don't have to fit in with any regulations -€“ most ceremonies are based around asking for a god's blessing, adapting church ceremonies to fit in with a couple's wishes. Secular ceremonies are solely about the couple's commitment to each other.

There are several types of secularist ceremonies. Humanist celebrants offer wedding ceremonies that concentrate on the power of the human spirit and do not invoke or refer to any type of religion, god or deity. Humanist celebrants in America are certified by a division of the American Humanist Association and will generally talk with couples to help them decide what they want their ceremony to be like.

Atheist ceremonies take a stand against religion, acknowledging that the couple come together for their shared love and do not ask the authority of any god to bless their union. Couples may have friends read passages of favorite texts to demonstrate the couple's feelings for each other.

Gay wedding vows for secular gay ceremonies can take any form a couple wishes, although it is generally a good idea to look at existing vows for inspiration. A couple may wish to include a favorite love poem or inspirational writing in their vows, as well as a list of promises to their spouse.


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Gay Divorce

Learn how gay divorce affects the gay marriage debate and read about the first gay divorce cases in Massachusetts and Canada.

1. Gay Divorce in the Gay Marriage Debate  

Generally, the only mention of gay divorce in the gay marriage debate has been as a reason to ban gay marriage. Anti gay marriage groups bring up instances of gay divorce to show the instability of gay relationships. However, gay divorce is one more reason that gay couples should be allowed to marry. The need to create a legal status for gay and lesbian couples is due to all the rights and privileges that only come with marriage. One of those rights is the right to access the courts when a couple splits up. Without gay divorce, gay couples don't have access to all the services that the law provides for their heterosexual counterparts. Currently, most gay couples dissolve their committed relationships privately – which is fine when the separation is amicable, but messy break ups can end in gross injustices to both partners. Divorce laws were created to ensure a fair split of all the assets of the union, including allowances for the emotional support a non-working partner gives to the other.


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2. Massachusetts Gay Divorce  

Gay couples began seeking gay divorce around seven months after same sex marriages were legalized in Massachusetts. The concept of gay divorce was so unprecedented in the state that couples had to fill out obsolete forms that still read "husband" and "wife." The first gay divorce case in Suffolk County, which includes Boston, was filed a male couple who married five days after same sex marriage was legalized. The couple, a 33-year-old religious educator from Boston and a 39-year-old professor, were based in Washington. The couple cited that their relationship had 'irretrievably broken down' as the reason for divorce, stating that their interests had grown in different directions. The settlement focused on custody of their three cats, who will live exclusively with the professor. As part of the settlement the professor agreed to provide his ex-husband with regular updates on the cats 'in recognition of the emotional hardship of such relinquishment'. Hampshire County reported a divorce filing within two months of the first gay weddings. The state's largest county, Middlesex County, had its first gay divorce three months into the legalization, involving a 38-year-old and a 27-year-old. The older partner cited 'cruel and abusive treatment' as the reason for the break-up. 



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3. Gay Break-Up Rates

There are no reliable gay divorce rates worldwide, as not all counties keep track of which divorce filings are from heterosexual and homosexual couples. In Massachusetts, when couples applied for divorce two months after gay marriage was legalized, opponents of gay marriage said the divorces, occurring so soon after the weddings, confirm that gay couples are not suited to marriage. One group stated that the gay men were too 'promiscuous' to make a marriage work.

The national divorce rate in the US is near 50 percent. Gay rights groups argue that mentioning gay divorce is a cheap shot. The gay divorce rate has little to do with gay marriage, as gay divorce is another rights issue.


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4. Canada's First Gay Divorce

Canada's first gay marriage divorce was filed by one of the first gay couples to be married in Ontario. The couple was married a week after same-sex marriage was legalized in Ontario. They had been together for five years but separated five days after their wedding day.

Divorce laws had not been amended by that time to apply to same-sex couples, and still referred to spouses as 'a man and a woman who are married to each other.' The court had to defer the case until the Canadian Supreme Court ruled on the legality of gay marriages nationwide.

A media ban was instituted by the court to prevent publication of further details of the case.



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5. Why Gay Couples Divorce

Many gay couples who married shortly after same sex marriage was legalized in their country waited years for their chance. Such couples might be thought to have a higher than usual level of commitment and stability. Yet gay and lesbian couples were divorcing just months after they married – or less.

Gay couples divorce for many reasons. Gay couples experience strong cultural pressures. Gay couples are also more likely to be two-income families with no children, which in the straight population have a higher risk of divorce. One of the less-thought-of reasons for gay marriage is to ensure that a couple in the process of break-up can access divorce courts.

As gay marriage is a relatively recent phenomenon, the gay divorce rate will not stabilize for a long time. Gay couples can only now access the streamlined legal processes that marriage and divorce provides. A study showed that the gay divorce rate for Dutch lesbian couples was higher than gay male couples, although the reason wasn't clear. Data from Nordic countries, where gay civil unions have been legal for more than a decade, also showed a slightly higher divorce rate for lesbians.



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