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Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage: An Obligation Not a Decision

Lindsay Gus


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. However, throw sexual orientation into the mix, and the right to marriage is no longer universally applicable. Same-sex marriage, a major source of contention in current U.S. politics, is prohibited by a majority of the world’s nations. While state’s laws that deny same-sex couples the opportunity to legally marry are discriminatory, does an international human right protecting gay marriage exist? There is an international human right to gay marriage, and denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a violation of international human rights law. In accordance with both treaty law and international customary law, states are obliged to ensure all individuals the 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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