Same-Sex Marriage, Same-Sex Cohabitation, and Same-Sex Families Around the World: Why ‘Same’ is so Different?

55 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2011 Last revised: 8 Aug 2011

See all articles by Macarena Saez

Macarena Saez

American University Washington College of Law

Date Written: May 1, 2011


This paper briefly explains the situation of same sex couples in countries that have opened marriage to individuals of the same sex, offers a summary and analysis of the status of same sex unions in several countries that have not opened marriage to same sex couples, and provides a comparative analysis of the most recurrent arguments used in the processes of recognition and denial of same sex unions in the countries reviewed.

Forty years ago, same sex couples were not legally accepted in any country. In the last thirty years, however, around 20% of the world has granted some rights to same sex couples, making them visible to society. While there are still countries that criminalize sexual relations among two consenting adults of the same sex, other countries are allowing same sex couples to marry and form a family. Between those two poles, many countries have moved or are moving from total rejection of same sex relationships to acceptance of some sort. At the center of this debate is the role of marriage. While some scholars claim that marriage is essentially heterosexual and the basis for societal structure, others consider the exclusion of same sex couples from marriage unfair discrimination.

Keywords: marriage, cohabitation, family, partnership, LGBT

Suggested Citation

Saez, Macarena, Same-Sex Marriage, Same-Sex Cohabitation, and Same-Sex Families Around the World: Why ‘Same’ is so Different? (May 1, 2011). American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Vol. 19, p. 1, 2011; American University, WCL Research Paper No. 2011-19. Available at SSRN:

Macarena Saez (Contact Author)

American University Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States
(202) 274-4388 (Phone)

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