Same-Sex Marriage: Redefining Marriage Around the World

  • July 11, 2007
  • By Hope Lozano-Bielat and David Masci

In many countries around the globe, gay and lesbian couples are seeking the right to marry or enter into other legally recognized forms of domestic partnerships. The legal definition of marriage is in flux, particularly in the developed world, as governments re-examine what long seemed to be a well-established aspect of civil law.

2007 Pew Research Center survey found that while a majority of Americans (55%) oppose same-sex marriage, a sizable minority (37%) favor it, figures that have varied only slightly since 2001. A 2006 Pew survey also found that a majority of Americans (54%) favor allowing civil unions, up from 45% in 2003.

A study released by the European Commission in 2006 found that a plurality of people in the European Union (49%) oppose gay marriage. Yet, as in the United States, the public remains divided, with 44% favoring same-sex marriage. Approval rates in individual countries vary greatly. In socially progressive Holland, for instance, 82% of all adults favor allowing same-sex marriage; in heavily Roman Catholic Poland, only 17% of adults support gay marriage.

Read the full report Same-Sex Marriage: Redefining Marriage Around the World on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.