(CULTURE/ANIMAL KINGDOM) Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote that all 50 states cannot ban same-sex marriage–a historic victory for what many have called the “defining civil rights challenge of our time.” Not only does the Supreme Court and 60 percent of Americans—an all-time high—support gay marriage, but so does the animal kingdom.

Evidence of homosexual behavior is found throughout the animal world in many different species, including sheep and penguins. Take a closer look at some same-sex partnerships in nature that prove love is blind among all animals, including humans. — Global Animal

Penguins have been observed to engage in homosexual behavior since the early 1900s. Photo Credit: Nicole Bengiveno / New York Times

The battle for gay rights continues to wage on and the endless argument between nurture and nature being stretched to its limits. Here at Global Animal, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at actual nature—and homosexual behavior—in animals other than humans.

The argument that homosexuality goes against nature itself has been the hiding place for many anti-gay rights movements over the years. But scientists have found that these arguments aren’t actually scientifically founded, and rather than emerging from a loss of morality or hedonism, homosexuality follows a fascinating pattern that can, in fact, be found in nature.

While individual animals from lions, orca, and the common raccoon have displayed homosexual tendencies, there is possibly no same-sex couple more famous than New York’s own Roy and Silo. The Central Park Zoo’s Chinstrap penguins paired together for several mating seasons, during that time showing no interest in female penguins, and together cared for and hatched an egg. Their surrogate daughter, Tango, went on to pair with another female penguin, Tanuzi, for two mating seasons. The loving same-sex penguin couple’s story inspired the delightful children’s book And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.

The Merck Manual of Veterinary Medicine considers homosexuality among sheep as a routine occurrence. Photo Credit: JupiterImages / Time

Though not all stories of animal homosexuality are quite as endearing as that of Roy and Silo, possibly due to penguin’s serially monogamous mating patterns, they are nonetheless interesting or relevant. In 2007, Time Magazine published an article on the sexual behaviors of gay sheep.

About eight percent of rams are gay (copulate with other rams exclusively), a percentage very similar to that of humans. The article reported Oregon Health and Science University’s findings on studying homosexual rams, which revealed the “gay” rams to have visibly different brain structures than their ewe-wooing counterparts.

While almost 1,500 species of animals have exhibited homosexual behavior, sheep seem to be the most extensively studied and have proven themselves out and proud, so to speak.

When it comes to homosexuality, it seems like no corner of the animal kingdom remains untouched. Even the smallest insects from the mite to the Monarch butterfly have been outed. The elegant pink flamingo and scaly bearded dragon are both known to take same-sex partners, along with the Bluegill sunfish, emu, chicken, buffalo, and domestic cat.

It may take more than a few hundred unbiased examples of homosexuality in nature to convince New York’s conservative representatives of its benignity. We can, however, hope that justice will be enacted and people – and our fellow animals – finally receive the rights they deserve.

— Bianca M. Caraza, exclusive to Global Animal

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