What International Experience Can Tell U.S. Courts About Same-Sex Marriage


In recent years a growing number of countries, including Canada and South Africa, have recognized a right to same-sex marriage. As voters in the United States pass state laws to ban same-sex marriage, international materials seem to offer a natural source of support for a contrary position. The Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which changed the legal landscape for same-sex marriage claims, could also offer precedent for the use of international comparisons in future cases. This Comment examines three common approaches to the judicial use of international materials in order to decide which approaches allow courts to benefit most from comparative analysis, while remaining consistent with precedent and minimizing the inherent dangers of this method. After discussing same-sex marriage developments in several countries, the Comment suggests how each of the three approaches to using comparative materials would apply in same-sex marriage cases, and concludes that the experiences of countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, and Canada can provide evidence that same-sex marriage will not have catastrophic consequences for society.

About the Author

Chief Articles Editor, UCLA Law Review, Volume 53. J.D. Candidate, UCLA School of Law, 2006; B.A., Trinity University, 2002.

By uclalaw