U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling likely to have global impact

A gay rights activist waves a rainbow flag in front of the Monument of the Soviet Army, during the Sofia Gay Pride Parade in Sofia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. Hundreds paraded through the Bulgarian capital of Sofia under rainbow-colored balloons and banners for that city's eighth Gay Pride march on Saturday.

A gay rights activist waves a rainbow flag in front of the Monument of the Soviet Army, during the Sofia Gay Pride Parade in Sofia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. Hundreds paraded through the Bulgarian capital of Sofia under rainbow-colored balloons and banners for that city's eighth Gay Pride march on Saturday. Valentina Petrova, AP

A gay rights activist waves a rainbow flag in front of the Monument of the Soviet Army, during the Sofia Gay Pride Parade in Sofia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. Hundreds paraded through the Bulgarian capital of Sofia under rainbow-colored balloons and banners for that city's eighth Gay Pride march on Saturday.  Valentina Petrova, AP

A gay rights activist waves a rainbow flag in front of the Monument of the Soviet Army, during the Sofia Gay Pride Parade in Sofia, Saturday, June 27, 2015. Hundreds paraded through the Bulgarian capital of Sofia under rainbow-colored balloons and banners for that city’s eighth Gay Pride march on Saturday.

LONDON — The landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriages has no legal force outside the United States, but gay rights activists in many parts of the world believe the court ruling will help their cause.

In the Philippines, in India, in Australia and elsewhere, gay rights advocates think the U.S. ruling may help change attitudes, just as American activists – and judges, educators and legislators – had earlier been influenced by the easy acceptance of same-sex marriage in some European countries, where the laws were changed smoothly without much fuss.

In today’s wired world, political movements cross national boundaries in the blink of an eye, and the trend toward legal acceptance of same-sex marriage is gaining pace, though still rejected outright in some parts of the globe. The U.S. is neither laggard nor leader in this movement, which reflects a fundamental change in public views in many parts of the world, but the ruling of its highest court is expected to have a ripple effect elsewhere.

In the Philippines, activists seeking to win legal recognition for same-sex marriages believe the U.S. ruling will be useful, particularly since the country’s legal setup is largely based on the U.S. system, said Sylvia Estrada Claudio, a gender rights advocate and professor at the University of the Philippines.

“This ruling will have positive repercussions for our own movements here,” she said.

The Philippines’ civil code limits marriage to a union between a man and a woman – but the constitutionality of this proviso is being challenged by a lawyer, Jesus Nicardo Falcis III.

Countries are taking different routes to the same conclusion: the U.S. pathway relied on a Supreme Court ruling to establish that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, while Ireland last month used a popular vote that showed strong public backing, despite the country’s deep Catholic roots.

Influence is a two-way street. Five years ago, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage. Activists there said they believe their example helped influence the U.S., and that Friday’s U.S. ruling will in turn shape attitudes and actions in other Latin American countries.

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“The U.S. decision will have a big impact in other countries,” said Esteban Paulon, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals, adding that his organization contributed documentation to U.S. legal groups arguing the case before the Supreme Court. “Sometimes U.S. influence is negative, but we believe in this case it will be positive and accelerate the process of approving gay marriage in other parts of the world.”

Twenty-one countries now allow same-sex marriage, according to the Pew Research Center, and Mexico permits it in some states, with many other countries offering various legal rights that fall short of marriage to same-sex couples.

In most of those countries, well-organized advocacy groups are lobbying for full marriage rights.

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