Gay marriage, or same sex marriage, is a legally or socially recognized marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Since 2001, ten countries and various other jurisdictions have begun legally formalizing same-sex marriages, and the recognition of such marriages is a civil rights, political, social, moral, and religious issue in many nations. The conflicts arise over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to enter into marriage, be required to use a different status (such as a civil union, which either grant equal rights as marriage or limited rights in comparison to marriage), or not have any such rights. A related issue is whether the term marriage should be applied.
One argument in support of same-sex marriage is that denying same-sex couples legal access to marriage and all of its attendant benefits represents discrimination based on sexual orientation; several American scientific bodies agree with this assertion. Another argument in support of same-sex marriage is the assertion that financial, psychological and physical well-being are enhanced by marriage, and that children of same-sex couples benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally recognized union supported by society’s institutions.Court documents filed by American scientific associations also state that singling out gay men and women as ineligible for marriage both stigmatizes and invites public discrimination against them. The American Anthropological Association avers that social science research does not support the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon not recognizing same-sex marriage. Other arguments for same-sex marriage are based upon what is regarded as a universal human rights issue, mental and physical health concerns, equality before the law, and the goal of normalizing LGBT relationships.Al Sharpton and several other authors attribute opposition to same-sex marriage as coming from homophobia or heterosexism and liken prohibitions on same-sex marriage to past prohibitions on interracial marriage.
One argument against same-sex marriage arises from a rejection of the use of the word "marriage" as applied to same-sex couples, as well as objections about the legal and social status of marriage itself being applied to same-sex partners under any terminology. Other stated arguments include direct and indirect social consequences of same-sex marriages, parenting concerns, religious grounds, and tradition.