Current Explanations for the Variation in Same-Sex Marriage Policies in Western Countries

in Comparative Sociology
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Over the last ten years, several western countries have recognized gay marriage either by providing gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, or by allowing civil unions. Other western countries have not. What accounts for this variation? This paper reviews and analyzes the key demographic, institutional and cultural arguments found in the literature on the legalization of gay marriage – especially as these pertain to cross-national comparison – and raises questions about assumptions regarding the extent to which there is variation on these variables across western countries. I argue that institutional and cultural explanations are only meaningful in explaining legalization when their combinations are specified in order to shed light on favorable (or unfavorable) circumstances for policy outcomes.



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Festy (2006) uses a similar categorization.


For instance, a poll taken in July 2005, the month gay marriage was legalized, showed that 46 percent of Canadians approved, and 51 percent opposed.


As of 2010, Mexico City allows gay marriage and gay adoption, while Mexico does not. Indeed, local jurisdictions sometimes deviate from national law and policy. For instance, some local jurisdictions in Italy provide civil partnership registries even though the Italian civil code does not recognize same-sex unions.



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