Washington International Law Journal


Robin A. Warren


Like many countries, both the United States and Hong Kong face the question of whether to legalize gay marriage due to social, legal, and political forces within and beyond their borders. The legalization of same-sex marriage in one jurisdiction forces other jurisdictions to decide whether to recognize marriages celebrated there. Comparing the current state of U.S. and Hong Kong law reveals that only a direct challenge to discriminatory marriage laws will successfully effect change. Two U.S. state supreme court decisions provide examples of effective legal arguments in a direct challenge. Conflict of laws analysis for marriage and the public policy exception to the place of celebration rule in the United States and Hong Kong preclude "importing" gay marriage by availing oneself of friendlier law in another forum. Ultimately, the timing must be ripe to effectively mount a direct challenge. In the meantime, every effort made, even if unsuccessful, raises awareness within a forum, and slowly gives rise to tolerance.

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