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Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: An Obligation Not a Decision

Lindsay Gus

Abstract


Regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion, men and women across the world are guaranteed under international law the opportunity to enter into marriage with one another.  Throw sexual orientation into the mix, however, and the right to marriage is no longer universally applicable.  Marriage between couples of the same sex, a major source of contention in current United States politics, is prohibited by a majority of the world’s nations.  While states’ laws that deny same-sex couples the opportunity to legally marry are discriminatory, does international human rights law provide for the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry? International human rights law creates a universal right to marriage that includes gay and lesbian couples, and denying same-sex couples this right is a clear violation.  In accordance with both treaty law and international customary law, states are obliged to recognize all individuals’ fundamental right to marriage.  Refusing same-sex couples the right to marry violates the principle of nondiscrimination and the individual’s right to privacy, marriage, association, and dignity.

 


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