Guest / Limited Access /

One could become wistful about the time in history when marriage was a settled affair, when everyone agreed on what it was, when no nation on the planet would have entertained the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage. But wistfulness is usually reserved for times long ago and places far away—not for a state of affairs that existed less than a decade ago.

In December 2000, the Dutch parliament became the first to pass legislation that gave same-sex couples the right to marry, divorce, and adopt children. On April 1 of the following year, the mayor of Amsterdam officiated, for the first time in human history, at the ceremonies of the first four gay couples. In the ensuing eight years, Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), and Norway (2008) followed the Netherlands' lead, and Sweden may now not be far behind.

While we shake our heads at those libertine Dutch, traditional marriage was challenged in the U.S. even earlier, in 1993, when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the state's prohibition of same-sex marriages amounted to discrimination on the basis of sex. For the first time in U.S. history, a state supreme-court ruling suggested that gay couples may have the right to marry.

Social conservatives were galvanized into action and enacted a series of protective measures. Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (doma) in 1996. Three states soon adopted constitutional same-sex marriage bans: Alaska (1998), Nebraska (2000), and Nevada (2000).And in a few years, 42 states enacted statutes similar to doma (although three of those bans have since been overturned).

Gay marriage advocacy was given new life with Massachusetts's historic 2003 high court ruling, which ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedKay Warren: A Year of Grieving Dangerously
Kay Warren: A Year of Grieving Dangerously
One year after the suicide of her son, she shares her story of grief, mystery, and hope.
TrendingBill Gothard Breaks Silence on Harassment Claims by 30 Women
Bill Gothard Breaks Silence on Harassment Claims by 30 Women
(UPDATED) Popular seminar speaker: 'I have failed to live out some of the very things that I have taught.'
Editor's PickYou Probably Love (or Hate) 'Heaven Is For Real' for All the Wrong Reasons
You Probably Love (or Hate) 'Heaven Is For Real' for All the Wrong Reasons
It's not a travel guide. And Colton Burpo isn't the first Christian to have an ecstatic experience.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisJuly July

In the Magazine

July 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.