June 26, 2015
In a historic decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of equal marriage in the United States of America! In a 5-4 ruling, the Court decreed that same sex marriage is legal under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Because of this, courts across all 50 states will now be required to accept same sex marriages as legal. President Obama welcomed the ruling stating that “Today we have taken a step towards a fairer society”. Marriage certificates are already being issued in states that previously did not allow or recognize same sex marriages. Following the ruling on Thursday, same sex couples will now be afforded the same basic human rights of marriage as heterosexual couples, making it clear the respect and equality problem homosexuals have faced in the past.
Looking at the issue of same-sex marriage from the human rights perspective, it is not a question of whether it should be legal in Japan or not, but rather when it will be legalized. EMA Japan believes that this is not a topic for the future but one for “NOW.” Not recognizing the rights of minorities is not logical from a constitutional perspective. In the case of legalizing same sex marriage in Japan, there is a necessity to adjust the civil law to not limit marriage to heterosexuals only.
Now, with the United States added to the list, there are currently over 40 countries worldwide that recognize same sex marriage or allow some form of civil union partnership. Combined, these countries make up more than 60% of global GDP. Unfortunately, Japan is not on this list at this time. An excerpt from the Supreme Court’s ruling states that: No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were. Homosexual couples ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
In a study conducted by Dentsu of 70,000 Japanese people, it was found that 1 in 13 identified as belonging to a sexual minority. In Japan, roughly 1 million people and their families, suffer from discrimination, lack of knowledge and unequal rights. We at EMA Japan ask that the Japanese government immediately acknowledge this injustice and work to make same sex marriage legal in Japan as well.