A same-sex relationship is a relationship between two persons of the same sex and can take many forms, from romantic and sexual, to non-romantic close relationships. The term is mainly associated with homosexual people. In their essential psychological respects, these relationships are regarded as equivalent to opposite-sex relationships.
The term same-sex relationship is not strictly related to the sexual orientation of the participants. As bisexual, pansexual, asexual and also heterosexual people may participate in same-sex relationships, some activists claim that referring to a same-sex relationship as a "gay relationship" or a "lesbian relationship" is a form of bisexual erasure. The term same-sex marriage is used similarly.
Same-sex relationships in history 
The lives of many historical figures, including Socrates, Alexander the Great, Lord Byron, Edward II, Hadrian, Julius Caesar, Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde, Vita Sackville-West, Alfonsina Storni and Christopher Marlowe included or were centered upon love and sexual relationships with people of their own sex. Terms such as gay or bisexual have often been applied to them; some, such as Michel Foucault, regard this as risking the anachronistic introduction of a contemporary construction of sexuality foreign to their times, though others challenge this.
Forms of same-sex relationships throughout history 
|Egalitarian||Features two partners with no relevance to age. Additionally, both play the same socially accepted sex role as heterosexuals of their own sex. This is exemplified by relationships currently prevalent in Western society between partners of similar age and sex.||Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures|
|Gender-structured||Features each partner playing a different gender role. This is exemplified by traditional relations between men in the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and Central and South Asia, non-postemodern Latin America (including, but not solely, both men-third gender relations and an equivalent to butch-femme for both sexes), as well as Two-Spirit or shamanic gender-changing practices seen in native societies. In North America, this is best represented by the butch–femme practice.||Two-Spirit, Hijra and travesti|
|Age-structured||Features partners of different ages, usually one adolescent and the other adult. This is exemplified by pederasty among the Classical Greeks or those engaged in by novice samurai with more experienced warriors; southern Chinese, and Reino do Congo's, male youth marriage rites; traditional sex-involving masculinity trainment in parts of the South Pacific, and pre-colonial Central Africa; and ongoing Central Asian and Middle Eastern practices.||Shudo, Pederasty|
Usually one form of same-sex relationship predominates in a society, although others are likely to co-exist. Historian Rictor Norton has pointed out  that in ancient Greece, egalitarian relationships co-existed (albeit less privileged) with the institution of pederasty, and fascination with adolescents can also be found in modern sexuality, both opposite-sex and same-sex. Egalitarian same-sex relationships are the principal form present in the Western world, while age- and gender-structured same-sex relationships are less common (though they are still significant and coexist with the postmodern egalitarian form in Latin America, where male heterosexuals and "butch" i.e. macho, active/insertive bisexuals and pansexuals can even share a single identity). As a byproduct of growing Western cultural dominance, this form is spreading from Western culture to non-Western societies although there are still defined differences between the various cultures.
Same-sex relationships in militaries 
A few ancient and medieval societies, such as Greece and Japan, fostered erotic love bonds between experienced warriors and their apprentices. It was believed that a man and youth who were in love with each other would fight harder and with greater morale. A classic example of a military force built upon this belief is the Sacred Band of Thebes. However, other ancient and medieval cultures such as the Saxons and Vikings did not engage in this practice openly; therefore, these examples should not be regarded as a general rule for ancient cultures.
The adoption of Christianity by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century and subsequent predominance of Christianity led to a diminished emphasis on erotic love among military forces. By the time of the Crusades, the military of Europe was asserting that carnal relations between males were sinful and therefore had no place in an army that served their perception of God's will. One reason that the Knights Templar, a prominent military order, was destroyed was through accusations of sodomy; these allegations were probably fabricated, however.
Examples in art and literature 
The record of same-sex love has been preserved through literature and art. Male homoerotic sensibilities are visible in the foundations of art in the West, to the extent that those roots can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. Plato's Symposium also gives readers commentary on the subject, at one point considering the claim that male-male love is superior to male-female love.
The European tradition of homoeroticism was continued in the works of artists and writers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Shakespeare. Since the Renaissance, both male and female homoeroticism has remained a common, if subtle and hidden, theme in the visual arts of the West.
In Iranian (Persian) societies homoeroticism was present in the work of such writers as Abu Nuwas and Omar Khayyam. A large corpus of literature, numbering in the hundreds of works, fostered the shudo tradition in Japan, together with a widespread tradition of homoerotic shunga art.
In the Chinese literary tradition, works such as Bian er Zhai and Jin Ping Mei survived the many purges to record the homoerotic climate of their time. Today, the Japanese anime subgenre yaoi centers on gay youths. Japan is unusual in that the culture's male homoerotic art has typically been the work of female artists addressing a female audience, mirroring the case of lesbian eroticism in western art.
In the twentieth century, entertainers such as Noël Coward, Madonna, k.d. lang, and David Bowie have brought homoeroticism into the field of western popular music. It is through these and other modern songwriters and poets that female homoerotic work by women, rather than erotic art by men with lesbian themes, has had its greatest cultural impact in the West since the ancient Greek poet Sappho.
In the 1990s, a number of American television comedies began to feature themes on same-sex relationships and characters who expressed same-sex attractions. The 1997 coming-out of comedian Ellen DeGeneres on her show Ellen was front-page news in America and brought the show its highest ratings. However, public interest in the show swiftly declined after this, and the show was cancelled after one more season. Immediately afterward, Will & Grace, which ran from 1998 to 2006 on NBC, became the most successful series to date focusing on male-male sexual relationships. Showtime's Queer as Folk, running from 2000 to 2005, was noted for its somewhat frank depiction of gay life, as well as its vivid sex scenes, containing the first simulated explicit sex scene between two men shown on American television.
Playwrights have penned such popular homoerotic works as Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Same-sex relationships have also been a frequent theme in Broadway musicals, such as A Chorus Line and Rent. In 2005, the film Brokeback Mountain was a financial and critical success internationally. Unlike most same-sex couples in film, both the film's lovers were traditionally masculine and married. The movie's success was considered a milestone in the public acceptance of the American gay rights movement.
Platonic same-sex relationships 
|This section requires expansion. (July 2008)|
Same-sex couples 
|Part of a series on|
|Lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender (LGBT)
||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (October 2009)|
State protections and prohibitions regarding (romantic or sexual) same-sex couples vary by jurisdiction. In some locations, same-sex couples are extended full marriage rights just as opposite-sex couples, and in other locations they may be extended limited protections or none at all. Policy also varies regarding the adoption of children by same-sex couples.
State recognition of same-sex couples 
Government recognition of same-sex marriage is presently available in eleven countries (Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden) and several sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Brazil, Mexico and the United States) allow same-sex couples to marry. Bills legalizing same-sex marriage have been proposed, are pending, or have passed at least one legislative house in Andorra, Colombia, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Nepal, New Zealand, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay as well as in the legislatures of several sub-national jurisdictions (in Scotland as well as parts of Australia, Mexico, and the United States). Other countries, including the majority of European nations, New Zealand and Uruguay, have enacted laws allowing civil unions or domestic partnerships, designed to give gay couples similar rights as married couples concerning legal issues such as inheritance and immigration.
Although same-sex marriages are not recognized federally in the United States, same-sex couples can legally marry in nine states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Washington) and the District of Columbia and receive state-level benefits. The states of New Jersey and Rhode Island do not grant same-sex marriages, but recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, as does California in some cases, particularly those established when the state briefly allowed same-sex marriage in 2008. Also, several states offer civil unions or domestic partnerships, granting all or part of the state-level rights and responsibilities of marriage. Thirty-one states have constitutional restrictions limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
Same-sex couples as parents 
LGBT parenting is when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are parents to one or more children, either as biological or non-biological parents. Same-sex male couples face coptions which include: "foster care, variations of domestic and international adoption, diverse forms of surrogacy (whether "traditional" or gestational), and kinship arrangements, wherein they might coparent with a woman or women with whom they are intimately but not sexually involved." LGBT parents can also include single people who are parenting; to a lesser extent, the term sometimes refers to families with LGBT children.
In the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under eighteen living in their home. Some children do not know they have an LGBT parent; coming out issues vary and some parents may never come out to their children. LGBT parenting in general, and adoption by LGBT couples may be controversial in some countries. In January 2008, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex couples have the right to adopt a child. In the U.S., LGBT people can legally adopt in all states.
There is ample evidence to show that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents. More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with one or more gay parents. No research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child well-being. It is well-established that both men and women have the capacity to be good parents, and that having parents of both genders does not enhance adjustment. The methodologies used in the major studies of same-sex parenting meet the standards for research in the field of developmental psychology and psychology generally. They constitute the type of research that members of the respective professions consider reliable. If gay, lesbian, or bisexual parents were inherently less capable than otherwise comparable heterosexual parents, their children would evidence problems regardless of the type of sample. This pattern clearly has not been observed. Given the consistent failures in this research literature to disprove the null hypothesis, the burden of empirical proof is on those who argue that the children of sexual minority parents fare worse than the children of heterosexual parents.
Professor Judith Stacey, of New York University, stated: “Rarely is there as much consensus in any area of social science as in the case of gay parenting, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics and all of the major professional organizations with expertise in child welfare have issued reports and resolutions in support of gay and lesbian parental rights”. These organizations include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). CPA is concerned that some persons and institutions are mis-interpreting the findings of psychological research to support their positions, when their positions are more accurately based on other systems of belief or values.
The vast majority of families in the United States today are not the "middle class family with a bread-winning father and a stay-at-home mother, married to each other and raising their biological children" that has been viewed as the norm. Since the end of the 1980s, it has been well established that children and adolescents can adjust just as well in nontraditional settings as in traditional settings.
Same-sex sexuality 
Types of relationships vary from one couple to the next. As in heterosexual relationships, some same-sex relationships are meant to be temporary, casual, or anonymous sex. Other relationships are more permanent, being in committed relationship with one another and not having sexual relationships with anyone else. Some are open relationships, and while committed to each other, allow themselves and their partner to have relationships with others. Other couples may be in secret, whether because of family upbringing, religion, pressure from friends/family, and other reasons.
The names of legal same-sex relationships vary depending on the laws of the land. Same-sex relationships may be legally recognized in the form of marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, or registered partnerships.
Same-sex relationships and sexual orientation 
Equally, not all people with a bisexual or homosexual orientation seek same-sex relationships. According to a 1990 study of The Social Organization of Sexuality, out of 131 women and 108 men who self-reported same-sex attraction, only 43 men (40%) and 42 women (32%) had participated in gay sex. In comparison, a survey by the Family Pride Coalition showed that 50% of gay men had fathered children and 75% of lesbians had children, and even more have had straight sex without having children.
Laws against same-sex sexuality 
A sodomy law is a law that defines certain sexual acts as sex crimes. The precise sexual acts meant by the term sodomy are rarely spelled out in the law, but is typically understood by courts to include any sexual act which does not lead to procreation. Furthermore, Sodomy has many synonyms: buggery, crime against nature, unnatural act, deviant sexual intercourse. It also has a range of similar euphemisms. While in theory this may include heterosexual oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, and bestiality, in practice such laws are primarily enforced against sex between men (particularly anal sex).
Some other countries criminalize homosexual acts In some Muslim nations (such as Iran) and African countries it remains a capital crime. In a highly publicized case, two male teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, were hanged in Iran in 2005 reportedly because they had been caught having sex with each other.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) 
Men who have sex with men (MSM) refers to men who engage in sexual activity with other men, regardless of how they identify themselves; many choose not to accept social identities of gay or bisexual. The term was created in the 1990s by epidemiologists in order to study the spread of disease among men who have sex with men, regardless of identity. As a risk category, MSM are not limited to small, self-identified, and visible sub-populations. MSM and gay refer to different things: behaviors and social identities. MSM refers to sexual activities between men, regardless of how they identify whereas gay can include those activities but is more broadly seen as a cultural identity. MSM is often used in medical literature and social research to describe such men as a group for clinical study without considering issues of self-identification.
As with any sexual relationship, people may begin with various forms of foreplay such as fondling, caressing, and kissing, and may or may not experiment with other practices, as they see fit. Sex between males can include mutual masturbation, frot, intercrural sex, oral sex and anal sex.
Women who have sex with women (WSW) 
Women who have sex with women (WSW) is a term used to identify women who have sex with other women, but may or may not self-identify as lesbian or bisexual. The term includes transwomen (transgender women). Sex between two females can include tribadism and frottage, mutual masturbation, cunnilingus, and the use of sex toys for vaginal, anal, or oral penetration or clitoral stimulation. As with any sexual relationship, people may begin with various forms of foreplay such as fondling, caressing, and kissing, and may or may not experiment with other practices, as they see fit.
Religious perspectives on same-sex sexuality 
Religions have had differing views about love and sexual relations between people of the same sex. Presently, a large proportion of the Abrahamic sects view sexual relationships outside of a heterosexual marriage, including sex between same-sex partners, negatively, though there are groups within each faith that disagree with orthodox positions and challenge their doctrinal authority. Opposition to homosexual behavior ranges from quietly discouraging displays and activities to those who explicitly forbid same-sex sexual practices among adherents and actively oppose social acceptance of homosexual relationships. Support of homosexual behavior is reflected in the acceptance of sexually heterodox individuals in all functions of the church, and sanctification of same-sex unions.
Some churches have changed their doctrine to accommodate same-sex relationships. Reform Judaism, the largest branch of Judaism outside Israel has begun to facilitate religious same-sex marriages for adherents in their synagogues. Jewish Theological Seminary, considered to be the flagship institution of Conservative Judaism, decided in March 2007 to begin accepting applicants in same-sex relationships, after scholars who guide the movement lifted the ban on ordaining people in same-sex relationships. In 2005, the United Church of Christ became the largest Christian denomination in the United States to formally endorse same-sex marriage.
On the other hand, the Anglican Communion encountered discord that caused a rift between the African (except Southern Africa) and Asian Anglican churches on the one hand and North American churches on the other when American and Canadian churches openly ordained clergy in same-sex relations and began blessing same-sex unions. Other churches such as the Methodist Church had experienced trials of clergy in same-sex relations who some claimed were a violation of religious principles resulting in mixed verdicts dependent on geography.
Some religious groups have even promoted boycotts of corporations whose policies support same-sex relations. In early 2005, the American Family Association threatened a boycott of Ford products to protest Ford's perceived support of "the homosexual agenda and homosexual marriage".
See also 
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