Marriage of the Virgin
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
The United States of America is facing the definition of marriage. (The original amicus brief before SCOTUS, with its supporting documentation, can be found here.)
Why the big push in the USA? Follow the money trail.
Some are calling this the "trials of marriage." Perhaps we should consider instead "marriage on trial."
Other countries call this same-sex civil "partnership" and this is legally equal to marriage between a man and a woman. So the issue is not equality before the law, but redefining marriage.
Norway has had "registered partnerships" since 1993.
Sweden has called them "registered partnerships" since 1994.
Hungary and Iceland have had "registered partnerships" since 1996.
France has called them “civil solidarity pacts” since 1999.
In Denmark “registered partnerships” were first recognized in 1998 as an alternative to marriage and an option for heterosexual couples. Adoption by homosexual couples was approved in 2000.
The Netherlands, Finland and Germany have had "registered partnerships" since 2001.
In the USA same-sex partnerships are recognized in nine states and the District of Columbia. It has been argued that the Federal government should apply federal "marriage" benefits uniformly, but the states decide what constitutes a civil union or marriage. It is clear that other countries do not uniformly recognize same-sex partnerships either. Argentina has had "partnership registration" since 2003 only in Buenos Aires city and Rio Negro province. Likewise, Australia implemented "cohabitation rights" in 1994 in the Capitol Territory, and in 1999 in New South Wales, and in 2001 in Victoria.
In Spain, despite the Socialist Party push to grant equal status to same-sex partnerships through the "Law of amendment of the Civil Code in the matter of Marriage," homosexual partnerships are not recognized by the Church and are limited to some states. The law is intentionally ambiguous. Zapatero remembers how the Spanish Republic, a coalition of Leftist groups, attempted to impose a new morality on Catholic Spain in 1936 and cast that nation into a bloody civil war.
Switzerland has permitted homosexuals to form "civil partnerships" since 2005.
Liechtenstein has had "registered partnerships" since 2002.
New Zealand passed a "civil union" bill in 2005.
It should be noted that none of these nations has chosen to call homosexual partnerships "marriage." The world consensus is that marriage is a unique institution between a man and a woman. The argument against DOMA involves the binary framework that is universally and empirically observed in the order of Nature. A lawyer has argued that the human race has "evolved" beyond this. The Justices do not appear to be convinced by this because they recognize that this overthrows the basis of empiricism.
Many countries that permit homosexual civil partnerships do not permit homosexual couples to adopt children. Justice Scalia rightly raised the concern for children in his questioning.
Same-sex partnerships can never be marriages. The essential property of marriage is the binary set of male-female. That said, there will continue to be challenges to the withholding of federal benefits from US citizens who are recognized as legal partners by the 9 states and DC. In Wednesday's hearing the challenge to DOMA failed to demonstrate federal government interest in this, except for Obama's politically-motivated advocacy against DOMA. The Judges will probably decide that special recognition of and uniform application of same-sex partnerships cannot come from the federal government without violation of the historic right of the states.
Related reading: Homosex not universally accepted; Civil Partnership Does Not a Marriage Make; SCOTUS Considers Gay "Marriage"; The Shaky Science Behind Same-Sex Marriage; Today's Savage Mind