Same-sex "marriage" is a proposed redefinition or variation on the traditional concept of marriage, granting same-sex unions the same legal status as heterosexual marriage. Like polygamy, it replaces the pattern of "one man, one woman" which is considered a divine mandate by most modern religious people. The proposal is outrageously unacceptable to most adherents of Christianity, Judaism and Islam because it uses the force of law to justify what scripture has clearly labelled a sin: i.e., homosexual relations. Hate speech rules and laws are already in place which restrict criticism of same-sex unions (see also hate crime).
Campaigns advocating same-sex marriage are at the forefront of the gay rights movement's attempt to normalize the rights of homosexuals with those of heterosexuals, overturning centuries of established tradition whereby homosexuals were required to keep their sinful acts hidden, protecting society from their immorality. Some opponents of efforts to normalize same-sex marriage claim its purpose is to destroy the family as an institution, merely to secure a legal basis for sexual freedom. According to some opponents of same-sex marriage, the primary purpose of marriage is to bring joy to society as much as to safeguard the development of happy families, and it is not for individual glory. They believe that unrelated people living together make each other miserable and harm society. Among the many reasons homosexuals might advocate same-sex marriage are the ability to make emergent healthcare decisions for a loved one in the absence of a durable power of attorney or living will, the alteration of the laws of intestate succession to include gay partners, and equal tax treatment as heterosexual married couples.
United States law defines "marriage" as "one man, one woman" for purposes of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if permitted under state law, and permits a state to disregard a same-sex marriage entered into in another state. An interesting consequence of the federal definition of "marriage" is that it specifically rules out polygamy.
Social conservatives regard same-sex marriage as immoral, and argue that use of the word "marriage" is a misnomer, because the marriage services of Christian denominations define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Some social liberals will try to use this debate as a excuse to take the socially-conservative view of marriage out of the law. In some Christian marriage ceremonies,the wedding will begin with a statement along the lines of: "Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony."  a definition which was also written into United States federal law in 1996.
Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family organization prefers the phrase same-sex "marriage," with quotation marks around the word "marriage," to call attention to his belief that marriage—civil as well as religious—is intrinsically a union between a man and a woman, and that that same-sex unions are "counterfeits."
Use of the term "same-sex marriage" was unheard of a few decades ago; however, these unions are now among a number of issues advocated by liberal activists.
Some advocates of same-sex marriage view marriage as a purely civil matter, which in the history of the United States is a position taken particularly strongly by Puritan colonists, who viewed the interjection of religion into the franchise of marriage as scandalous to Christ's Church.
In the United States, marriage is primarily governed by each individual state and marriage laws differ from state to state. Several states allow civil unions between two people of the same sex, and five, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa, currently issue same-sex marriage licenses. These marriage licenses are not recognized by the Federal government.
In 1996 Congress recognized the likelihood that liberal activists would soon seek changes to the laws in some states that pertain to homosexuals. It considered the possibility of test cases reaching the Supreme Court, and of the court conceivably ruling that a state—even though it prohibits same-sex marriage itself—must honor same-sex marriages performed in another state pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. The Defense of Marriage act, which was passed and signed by President Clinton, prevents this possibility, and also prevents the Federal Government from recognizing marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman. Its Constitutionality has not yet been tested under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the Equal Protection Clause of the 5th Amendment, or the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment.
In 1999 a Vermont court ruled that under its constitution, it was not required to allow same-sex marriage but was required to make provisions to grant same-sex couples legal rights identical to those provided by marriage. Vermont responded by creating "civil unions," which are legally distinct from marriages but convey the same rights. In 2009, the Vermont legislature overrode the governor's veto to pass a bill allowing same-sex marriage.
In 2003 the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that under Massachusetts' constitution, same-sex couples could not be denied Massachusetts marriage licenses, making Massachusetts the first state to issue same-sex marriage licenses. As of April 2009, same-sex marriage was legal in four states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Iowa. 
Beginning in 2008, the states of Washington, and Oregon also provide for same-sex unions. Hawaii provides certain benefits to same sex couples.  The State of New Hampshire issued civil unions until the summer of 2009, when it passed a bill approving same-sex marriage  The state will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses in January, 2010.
In the fall of 2009, a same-sex marriage bill was introduced to the Washington, DC city council by At-Large Council Member David Catania (who is openly gay.) After two days of testimony involving nearly 250 witnesses , the council voted to approve the bill, 11-2. If signed by the Mayor, which he has pledged to do, the bill will then go to Congress for a mandatory 30-day review period. While opponents of the bill have vowed to fight it in Congress it is expected to pass, and will become law in 2010.
The New York legislature voted for same-sex marriage on June 24, 2011.
Same-sex marriages were legal for a brief period in the state of California, but the people of that state voted to repeal the law in the fall of 2008, through a ballot initiative known as Proposition 8. The legislature of Maine approved a same-sex marriage bill in May of 2009  but opponents lobbied to have the bill put up to a popular vote, and it was defeated by the voters in the fall of 2009.
Same-sex marriage is legal in seven countries: South Africa, Spain, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Sweden. Other countries, such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, recognize civil unions and domestic partnerships.
Some opponents of same-sex marriage believe that the religious ceremony of marriage is governed by each denomination and is unaffected by laws passed by civil authority. Same-sex marriage is forbidden in Orthodox Judaism, Catholicism, and most mainstream Protestant denominations. In Massachusetts, however, about 6% of all marriages are same-sex marriages, so this does not appear to be a problem. 
Public attitude toward same-sex marriage parallels attitude toward homosexuality. In general, it is opposed by social conservatives and outside of this group, support is split down the middle leaning to opposition.
James Dobson cites Stanley Kurtz to argue that the motivation of those advocating same-sex marriage is not to secure the benefits of marriage for gay couples, but to destroy the institution of marriage itself:
- ...most gays and lesbians do not want to marry each other. That would entangle them in all sorts of legal constraints. Who needs a lifetime commitment to one person? The intention here is to destroy marriage altogether. With marriage as we know it gone, everyone would enjoy all the legal benefits of marriage (custody rights, tax-free inheritance, joint ownership of property, health care and spousal citizenship, etc.,) without limiting the number of partners or their gender. Nor would "couples" be bound to each other in the eyes of the law. This is clearly where the movement is headed.
According to a March, 2007 report, there are 65,000 adopted children in the U.S. being raised by same-sex couples. The same report says 14,100 foster children were being raised by one or more gay or lesbian foster parents.
In Great Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has expressed its full support to the stand taken by the Catholic Church opposing regulations on gay adoption. The Catholic Church sought to be exempt from the new law. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams of the Church of England, supports the Catholic Church's efforts declaring that the rights of conscience cannot be subject to laws. Catholic leaders have already said that its teachings prevent its agencies placing children with homosexuals and they will have to close if bound by the rules. The MCB, the UK's leading Muslim umbrella group embracing over 400 affiliated organizations, said that while it supported anti-discrimination laws, homosexuality is forbidden in Islam. 
Studies indicate that homosexual couples have higher rates of promiscuity than heterosexual couples. Allowing gays to marry would make gays seek more partners. In addition, studies report that homosexual couples have significantly higher incidences of violent behavior.[Citation Needed] These studies are not surprising given what pathologists have stated regarding the commonness and brutality of homosexual murders.[Citation Needed] The prevalence of violence and emotional abuse in gay domestic partnerships. One survey found 53% of gays felt if the high incidence of violence against partners in homosexual relationships was known and understood by the heterosexual population, it would hinder the drive for gay rights.
Domestic abuse is divided into two categories, emotional abuse and physical abuse. While gay domestic abuse has not been studied to the extent that heterosexual relationships have, preliminary studies indicate a much higher level of abuse.
Bishop Harry Jackson has shown how same-sex "marriage" is causally linked to the breakdown of the family in recent decades, particularly the black family.
Legalization of same-sex "marriage" is correlated with social dysfunctions that states and countries banning it have avoided. States and countries legalizing same-sex "marriage" have markedly different levels of quality of life from those that have banned it.
Ancient civilizations that recognized same-sex "marriage" collapsed as a result, while those that refused to recognize it have been spared that fate.
- Anti-Defamation League
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Gay bowel syndrome
- Homosexuality and the Bible
- Homosexuality and biblical interpretation
- The Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal Church, The Church Hymnal Corporation and the Seabury Press, 1979: "The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage," p. 423
- US Code - Title 1, section 7
- Same-Sex 'Marriage' and Civil Unions, Focus on the Family's website
- Vermont Legislature Makes Same-Sex Marriage Legal 
- Conn. high court rules gay couples can marry
- "New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage" 
- D.C. Council hears from both sides in gay marriage debate 
- "DC Council Approves Same-Sex Marriage" 
- "California Votes for Prop 8"
- "Lawmakers approve same-sex marriage in N.H., Maine" 
- "Maine rejects same-sex marriage law" 
- Countries worldwide address gay marriage
- Same Sex Marriage Poll from ABC News
- http://www.statcan.ca/english/research/85-570-XIE/2006001/findings/risk.htm Aforementioned Canadian Study.
- Stanley Kurtz, "Beyond Marriage," The Weekly Standard, August 4/August 11, 2003. - cited in Marriage on the Ropes, Dr. James Dobson, retrieved from Focus on the Family, 15 May 2007.
- Gay adoption: A new take on the American family
- UK Muslim group backs Christian opposition to gay adoption rules London, Islamic republic News Agency, Jan 26, 2007.
- Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples
- 2004 General Social Survey, Statistics Canada, Canada's National Statistical Agency, July 7, 2005
- The NAACP Abandons the Black Family
- Same Sex Marriage Countries
- The Slippery Slope of Same Sex Marriage
- New Jersey Lawmakers Drop Same-Sex Marriage Bill, from CBN
- UF study: Education best predicted support for gay marriage ban