The idea of providing rights to same-sex couples in general, and the prospect of opening up the institution of marriage to gay men and lesbians in particular, have instigated intense public debate in many Western countries. National courts and legislatures, as well as some international organizations, have been faced with the demands of gays for equality in terms of the rights, benefits, and protections that flow from marriage. The current progress in these directions is among the most interesting and significant legal developments in recent times. Beyond that, this process has highly significant implications for social change: it raises issues of equality between the sexes and reflects on common conceptions of gender roles. A comparative examination of the different models for the recognition of same-sex partnerships has not been conducted to date. This book thus sheds new light on the current same-sex-marriage debate in the United States and Europe.
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