In this, the United States is hardly unique; indeed, one authority on family law recently con-ducted an international survey of marriage laws and concluded that ‘‘[a]ll nations permit onlyheterosexual marriage. At present, same-sex marriage is allowed in no country or state in theworld. ...’’
Lynn D. Wardle, ‘‘International Marriage and Divorce Regulation and Recogni-tion: A Survey,’’ 29 Family L.Q. 497, 500 (Fall 1995).
William N. Eskridge, Jr., ‘‘The Case for Same-Sex Marriage’’ 54 (Free Press 1996).More recently, the Platform of the 1993 ‘‘March on Washington’’ called for the ‘‘legalization of same-sex marriage.’’
Mark Blasius, ‘‘Gay and Lesbian Politics: Sexuality and theEmergence of a New Ethic’’ 175–78 (Temple Univ. Press 1994).
Suzanne Sherman (ed.), ‘‘Lesbian and Gay Marriage: Private Commitments,Public Ceremonies’’ (Temple Univ. Press 1992);
Eskridge, ‘‘The Case for Same-Sex Mar-riage’’ at 44–62.
See Lynn D. Wardle, ‘‘A Critical Analysis of Constitutional Claims for Same-Sex Marriage,’’1996 B.Y.U. L. Rev. 1, 9. Among the leading cases are:
191 N.W.2d 185, 186(Minn. 1971) (state law limiting marriage to heterosexual unions does not violate Ninth or Four-teenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution);
, 501 S.W.2d 588, 590 (Ky. Ct. App. 1973) (refusal to grant marriage license to lesbian couple does not violate constitutionalright to marry, to associate freely, or to the free exercise of religion);
, 522 P.2d1187, 1195 (Wash. Ct. App. 1974) (traditional marriage law does not violate either state or fed-eral constitution);
, 476 A.2d 952, 954 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984) (declining torecognize right to common law same-sex marriage); and
District of Columbia
, 653 A.2d307 (D.C. 1995) (D.C. Court of Appeals rejected statutory and federal due process and equal pro-tection challenges to traditional marriage law).
Notwithstanding the advances gay rights legal groups have made, the debate within the ho-mosexual community continues, as prominent advocates of same-sex ‘‘marriage’’ still find it nec-essary to seek to persuade other homosexual activists to support their efforts.
marriage by gay rights groups and their lawyers. Only then canthe Committee’s concerns that motivated H.R. 3396 be fully ex-plained and understood.The determination of who may marry in the United States isuniquely a function of state law. That has always been the rule,and H.R. 3396 in no way changes that fact. And while state lawsmay differ in some particulars—for example, with regard to mini-mum age requirements, the degree of consanguinity, and the like—the uniform and unbroken rule has been that only opposite-sex cou-ples can marry. No State now or at any time in American historyhas permitted same-sex couples to enter into the institution of mar-riage.
Some in our society, however, are not satisfied that marriageshould be an exclusively heterosexual institution. In particular,same-sex ‘‘marriage’’ has been an explicit goal of many in the gayrights movement for at least twenty-five years. In 1972, for exam-ple, the National Coalition of Gay Organizations called for the‘‘[r]epeal of all legislative provisions that restrict the sex or numberof persons entering into a marriage unit and extension of legal ben-efits of marriage to all persons who cohabit regardless of sex ornumbers.’’
This campaign, which has also included mass ‘‘wed-ins,’’ has been waged on religious, cultural, and legal fronts.
Beginning in the early 1970s, gay rights advocates periodicallyfiled lawsuits seeking to win the right to same-sex ‘‘marriage.’’ Ac-cording to one commentator, ‘‘[o]ver the past twenty-five years,same-sex marriage advocates have mounted over a dozen substan-tial litigation campaigns seeking judicial legalization of same-sexmarriages or judicial recognition of same-sex unions for purposes of qualifying for certain marital benefits.’’
Prior to the Hawaii case,none of these legal challenges succeeded.In addition to lack of success in the courts, these efforts facedother difficulties. The most important of these has been a persist-ent reluctance by some within the gay and lesbian movement toembrace the objective of same-sex ‘‘marriage.’’
Initially, the major