What's the Latest Development?
Same-sex marriage is now fully legal in 11 countries and partially legal in two others, including the US, where it is legal in nine states after this month's elections. In addition, France's government has just approved a proposed bill to permit same-sex marriage, and Spain's law -- passed seven years ago -- has been officially approved by its constitutional court. New Zealand, England and Scotland also plan to pass similar legislation next year. Tomorrow, the US Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether they will hear any of several cases challenging one section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act on its constitutionality.
What's the Big Idea?
Despite the fact that 78 countries still criminalize homosexuality, the trend towards offering some form of partnership law -- whether as marriage, civil union, or something else -- seems to be gaining momentum. A number of different factors appear to be in play, including generational view shifts, the increased visibility of gay people in a variety of environments, and the decline of religious influence on individuals particularly in the US (where one in five adults claim to have no religious affiliation according to a recent poll) and Europe.
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