Global Perspective: Same Sex Marriage

How has it affected the United States so far? What's next for the rest of the world?

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On May 24th, Ireland made history by being the first country to legalize same sex marriage by national vote. A little more than a month later and the United States Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in all fifty states.

Fast forward 48 hours later and the city of San Francisco, CA is celebrating its annual pride parade.

“The place wasn’t just filled with gays and lesbians; it was filled with the entire community,” says Theresa Sparks, Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission in San Francisco.

According to the website, 63% of Americans support marriage equality. This statistic is up 14% from both Democrats and Republicans from a poll taken in 2010.

As the LGBT community becomes more of a norm for most Americans, Sparks believes that not everyone will be able to adjust to the change.

“I don’t think just the act of marriage equality is going to change people’s minds… people have to be patient,” she says.

Zach Allen, a lawyer for Arnold & Porter LLP, also named “Best LGBT Lawyers under 40- 2015,” gave his insight on the Supreme Court case.

“I don’t think it took so long in a way… I think that from my point of view, it happened very quickly… It’s been a pretty rapid transition.”

The next supposed Supreme Court Case is discrimination against lesbian and gays and the right to express freedom of religion as stated in the First Amendment.

Some religious views prohibit same sex marriage and in extreme cases, having severe consequences for being gay. The Higher Education Research Institute in March of 2010 found that in a series of polls, 66% of Catholic freshmen and 58% of Muslim freshmen support marriage equality.

Between 50-75% of some type of a Christian denomination also believes in same sex marriage. Jeff Dodge, Associate Rector of St Luke’s says, “Belief and Faith are different things,” and that he can “maintain his Christianity” because, “what has changed?”

Sparks also agrees that it will not change religion by simply saying, “it’s not changing religion, it’s not impacting anything and it’s really not something to be afraid of… it’s not something that is going to affect someone’s masculinity or femininity and it’s probably not going to change the population growth… there’s all kind of things. I think that they should just be open minded.”

As for the 79 countries in the world who reject the acceptance of homosexuality; Sparks believes that, “If the United States goes that way, there are many other countries that will look to us for leadership… I think absolutely it’s going to have an impact…I think it will have an impact in countries we don’t expect.”

She also suspects that, “If a country is open minded, which isn’t always the case; they could spend some time on the countries that do have marriage equality for same sex couples and try to understand that it’s not changing the country.”

Allen also supports the idea that countries should look up to the United States decision. “Look at the activists in other countries… look at the changes… be patient and impatient,” he says.

The freedom to marry who you want, “It’s becoming normal. I hate to use that term, but societal norms…” Sparks believes. According to, the proper definition of a societal norm is, “an expected form of behavior in a given situation.”

For future generations who have lived through the history making day, Sparks imagines, “It will be things in the history books… you can marry who you want, it doesn’t matter. At some point you’re going to forget that you never could. And that’s huge.”



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