From Volume 88, Number 3 (March 2015)
Dating back to the revolutionary era, France and the United States have vied, sometimes directly, in a longstanding contest for leadership status in the area of human rights. Where gay marriage is concerned, however, it would be more accurate to describe both nations as followers rather than leaders. In late April 2013, about twelve years after the Netherlands became the world’s first nation to legalize same-sex marriage, and on the heels of large and passionate protests by social conservatives, France became the fourteenth such country, eliminating the French Civil Code’s gender-specific language barring equal marriage. Not to be outdone, the United States, acting through judicial rather than legislative channels, followed suit in June 2013 with United States v. Windsor, striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”).