When the Supreme Court made their historic marriage equality ruling in June, it may have felt revolutionary (in a lot of ways, it was!), but the U.S. is not exactly a world leader when it comes to LGBT equality.
In fact, we followed Argentina, England, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Finland, Luxembourg, Scotland, Uruguay, Brazil, France, The Netherlands, South Africa, Canada, Greenland, New Zealand, Spain, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden to become the 22nd country in the world to adopt national recognition of same-sex marriages.
The Netherlands were first to legalize gay marriage way back in 2000. The U.S. is the most recent country to make the change, and now LGBT rights activists in many other parts of the world are hoping the U.S.'s evolution on the issue means the laws will soon change in their own countries, too.
So how close is global marriage equality?
According to the Associated Press, Australia is "alone among developed, English-speaking nations in its refusal to legalize marriages between same sex couples." According to a recent poll, 72 percent of Australians are in favor of legalizing gay marriage. Activists and politicians are trying to get a marriage equality bill to parliament for a vote this year, but Australia's prime minister, Tony Abbott, still openly opposes gay marriage.
In Mexico, certain regions explicitly allow gay marriage, similar to the state-by-state laws we had here prior to the SCOTUS ruling, and a recent high court ruling is being seen as having effectively legalized gay marriage throughout the country -- even though the law doesn't explicitly mention gay marriage.
No nations in Asia have legalized it yet, but that might be about to change -- authorities in Taiwan recently announced that they planned to draft a same-sex partnership law. Taiwan has been recognized as one of the most LGBT-friendly countries in Asia for a long time. Asia's biggest pride parade takes place in Taipei every year, and sees attendees in the hundreds of thousands, with lots of visitors traveling from other parts of Southeast Asia.
It isn't all looking up yet, though.
South Africa is the only one of Africa's 54 nations to have legalized gay marriage so far, and prior to Obama's recent Kenya visit, leaders there threatened that his speeches would be disrupted and he would be booed if he brought up the subject. (Obama did it anyway, and though his remarks were dismissed by Kenya's president, he wasn't booed.)
A 2013 poll by the Pew Research center found opposition to homosexuality was upwards of 90 percent in the five African nations surveyed, and Gambia recently enacted a law that can land you in prison for life for "homosexual acts."
Unfortunately, Gambia isn't the only place where simply being gay is still illegal -- according to Business Insider, "laws punishing people for being gay still exist in 76 countries, including Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, and Singapore. Punishments in these countries range from forced psychiatric treatment and lifelong prison sentences to hard labor and death by public stonings."
Clearly, even with all of our recent progress, we still have a long way to go toward basic LGBT rights and protections before we can really start thinking about global marriage equality. It seems likely that we'll one day wonder what humanity was ever thinking with anti-gay laws -- much like we do now about the laws that once banned alcohol, prevented interracial marriages or kept women from voting.
Let's do whatever we can to make sure that happens sooner rather than later.