Same-sex marriage, also known as gay marriage or equal marriage, is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or gender identity. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage is sometimes referred to as marriage equality, particularly by supporters.
Since 2001, eleven countries (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden) and several sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Brazil, Mexico and the United States) allow same-sex couples to marry. Bills legalizing same-sex marriage have been proposed, are pending, or have passed at least one legislative house in Andorra, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Nepal, New Zealand, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay as well as in the legislatures of several sub-national jurisdictions (in Scotland as well as parts of Australia, Mexico, and the United States).
Introduction of same-sex marriage has varied by jurisdiction, being variously accomplished through a legislative change to marriage laws, a court ruling based on constitutional guarantees of equality, or by direct popular vote (via a ballot initiative or a referendum). The recognition of same-sex marriage is a political, social, civil-rights and religious issue in many nations, and debates continue to arise over whether same-sex couples should be allowed marriage, be required to hold a different status (a civil union), or be denied recognition of such rights. Allowing same-gender couples to legally marry is considered to be one of the most important of all LGBT rights.
Same-sex marriages can be performed in a secular civil ceremony or in a religious setting. Various religious groups around the world conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies; for example: Quakers, Episcopalians, the Metropolitan Community Church, the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Canada, Reform and Conservative Jews, Wiccans, Druids, Unitarian Universalists and Native American religions with a two-spirit tradition.
Studies conducted in several countries indicate that support for the legalization of same-sex marriage increases with higher levels of education and that support is strong among younger people. Additionally, polls show that there is rising support for same-sex marriage globally across all races, ethnicities, ages, religions, political affiliations, socioeconomic statuses, etc