To some, same-sex marriage is considered immoral, while to others it is viewed as a basic, or even God-given, right. Regardless of one’s stance, it cannot be argued that, for the same-sex couples living in the countries listed below, they must have considered their respective nations‘ passing through of legislation allowing them to be married, and those marriages to be fully recognized to be nothing short of a personal and national victory.
Same-Sex Marriage Around the World
A growing number of governments around the world are considering whether to grant legal recognition to same-sex marriages. So far, 30 countries and territories have enacted national laws allowing gays and lesbians to marry, mostly in Europe and the Americas. In Mexico, some jurisdictions allow same-sex couples to wed, while others do not.
Below is a list of countries that have legalized the practice, with the most recent countries to do so shown first.
Gay Marriage by State 2021
Gay marriage, also known as same-sex marriage, is the marriage of people of the same sex or gender.
In 1970, a same-sex couple in Minnesota applied for a marriage license and was denied. The case was brought to the Minnesota Supreme Court and brought the question of civil marriage rights for same-sex couples to the public attention. Unfortunately, many of these early cases were unsuccessful.
Gay marriages made progress in the 1980s, when Berkeley, California, passes the country’s first domestic partnership law. In 1987, the first mass same-sex wedding ceremony took place on the National Mall, where almost 2,000 same-sex couples were married. In 1989, court rulings in New York and California defined same-sex couples as families.
Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2003. California and ConnecticutVermontNew Hampshire. Legalization came through state courts, the enactment of state legislation, or the result of the decisions of federal courts until 2012. On November 6, 2012, MaineMarylandWashington became the first states to legalize gay marriage through a popular vote.
On June 26, 2015, in the landmark case of Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriages. Despite this, not all states are abiding and have enacted constitutional or statutory bans on gay marriage known as “Defense of Marriage” acts.
Factbox: List of states that legalized gay marriage
(Reuters) – Twelve of the 50 U.S. states plus Washington, D.C., have legalized gay marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court was expected on Wednesday to issue rulings in two major cases relating to gay marriage.
The first three states to allow gay marriage did so because of court rulings permitting it, rather than through legislative action or putting the issue to voters to decide. Since mid-2009, six states have approved gay marriage laws by passing laws in state legislatures and three states by ballot initiatives.
In California, same-sex marriage was legal briefly in 2008 following a court ruling permitting it. Later that year, voters approved Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage. The legal challenge to Proposition 8 went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here is a look at the states that have approved gay marriage.
Which States Allow Gay Marriage?
Gay marriage licenses are given, only in some states of the U.S.A. Scroll below, to learn which states are these.
Gay marriage licenses are given, only in some states of the U.S.A. Scroll below, to learn which states are these.
One of the most controversial and ever-changing issues, facing American society today, is the issue of same-sex or gay marriage. Same-sex marriage is not recognized by government or Federal law, due to the Defense of Marriage Act (1996). According to the DOMA act, a marriage is defined in Federal law, as a union between a man and a woman. But state laws are separate and hence, some states issue gay marriage licenses, allowing for same-sex marriage. With all the ups and downs, that take place with the same-sex rights, a common question is “how many states allow gay marriage?”. Some states have civil unions, some ban same-sex marriages completely. In this article, read on to learn, which states in the U.S.A identify same-sex marriages as legal.
Gay Marriage States: History of Same Sex Marriage in US
On June 26, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that all gay couples nationwide have the constitutional right to marry in every state! And with marriage equality for all, that means that all 13 states that previously upheld bans on gay marriage have now been legally enforced to reverse them.
It’s been a little more than 11 years since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage. And before today, 36 other states as well as the District of Columbia followed suit, striking down bans on same-sex marriage and awarding gay couples the same rights as heterosexual ones. So we’ve put together a comprehensive state-by-state list detailing the history of gay marriage in our country, some noteworthy facts about same-sex marriage in the US, plus a geographical history map of gay marriage states.
States That Allow Gay Marriage
Twenty years ago the subject of gay marriage in the United States seemed to be almost a joke. Yet here we sit, a scant twenty years later, counting the number of states that have already embraced the concept, and looking ahead to other states joining suit. While the future of gay marriage is still somewhat unclear, the sheer diversity of the states that have legalized it is amazing to behold.
As the future of gay marriage moves forward, it is instructive to look back at those first bellwether states and how they helped to reshape the face of the nation.
ConnecticutThe state of Connecticut officially allowed gay marriages to take place starting on November 12, 2008. That made Connecticut the third state to officially allow same-sex couples to marry. The state had previously enacted a civil union law back in 2005. That law gave gay and lesbian couples many of the same protections as marriage, and it became law on April 20, 2005 when the governor signed the bill. Civil unions for gay and lesbian couples officially began on October 1 of the same year. The new gay marriage law established in 2009 replaces those civil union and gives those same-sex unions the official recognition of the state. IowaThe legalization of gay marriage in Iowa proved once and for all that support for same-sex relationships is not confined to the coasts. The harbinger of all things Midwestern, Iowa joined the gay marriage parade on April 3, 2009. But although that is the date gay marriage officially became legal, it is not the first time Iowans had grappled with this thorny issue.
Iowa first began looking at the issue back in 1998, when a series of court cases found that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry violated the Equal Protection Clause of the constitution in many states. Iowa first reacted to these lawsuits by passing their own version of the Defense of Marriage Act, essentially barring gays and lesbians from marrying in the state.
A 2005 lawsuit filed on behalf of six Iowa couples denied marriage licenses revived the issue, and in 2007 a court in Polk County, Iowa ruled in favor of those same-sex couples. Then on April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled that there was no basis to deny these couples, or any same-sex couples, the right to marry.
MassachusettsThe Commonwealth of Massachusetts was one of the first in the country to recognize the rights of gays and lesbians to marry. The history of gay marriage in Massachusetts goes back to May of 2004, when the Supreme Judicial Court in the state ruled that the language restricting marriages to heterosexual couples was unconstitutional.
The decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was controversial at the time, and it remains controversial to this day. But in the meantime thousands of gay and lesbian couples have been able to marry and start families in the Commonwealth.
New HampshireOn New Yearâ€™s Day 2010 New Hampshire joined the growing list of states that formally recognize marriages by same-sex couples. This new marriage law in the state of New Hampshire replaced the existing law, which had granted gays and lesbians the right to form civil unions but stopped short of granting those couples the right to marry.
The state of New Hampshire had previously adopted that civil union legislation back on January 1, 2008. The bill to legalize those civil unions was passed in April of 2007, but the actual legislation did not take effect until the dawning of the new year. Meanwhile, same-sex couples continued to fight for full marriage recognition, with its host of legal protections, and on January 1, 2010 they finally got their wish.
VermontThe state of Vermont officially recognized marriages between gay and lesbian couples on September 1, 2009. Vermont had long been a bellwether state in terms of gay marriage. The state was the first to introduce same-sex civil unions for gays and lesbians, way back in July 2000, when few people took the issue of gay marriage seriously.
Then in March of 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee in the state of Vermont unanimously recommended that same-sex marriage be implemented. The State Senate and House followed through and passed the bill, although it was later vetoed by the governor. Even so, the State Senate in Vermont was able to override that veto, and gay marriage became the law of the land.
Washington, D.C.Washington, D.C. joined the parade of locations recognizing gay marriage in March of 2010. Those first same-sex marriage licenses were issued following months of wrangling and trepidation over a bill passed by the city council would ever go into effect.
That bill, known officially as the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, gave gays and lesbians the right to marry, and when news of the billâ€™s passage started to spread, couples from the D.C. area quickly began lining up for those first marriage licenses. Gay marriage officially became legal in Washington, D.C. on March 9 of 2010.
New YorkNew York joined the gay marriage bandwagon in 2011, and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and New York state residents took to the streets to celebrate the decision to legalize same-sex unions.
The decision to legalize same-sex marriages in New York state is a fairly recent one, dating back to June 24, 2011. That is when the legislature in the Republican-dominated New York Senate officially passed the bill by a vote of 33 to 29. The governor of New York quickly signed the bill into law, making New York the largest state to officially recognize gay marriage. Gay and lesbian couples can officially begin applying for marriage licenses in late July.
CaliforniaCalifornia first began issuing marriage license to same-sex couples back on June 16, 2008, following a ruling by the Supreme Court of California. That ruling held that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry violated the equal protection clause in the state constitution. Following that ruling, opponents of gay marriage mounted a successful campaign to ban the practice through Proposition 8, which was placed on the ballot in the 2008 general election. That proposition officially amended the California Constitution to state that marriage is between one man and one woman, leaving the future of gay marriage in the state of California up in the air. This was overturned by the District Court. It was appealed by proponent of the initiative all the way to the Supreme Court, which found that they did not have standing to bring the appeal, meaning that the District Court’s ruling stood and Proposition 8 was unconstitutional.
SummaryBy now, the following states permit same sex marriages: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Even though the issue of gay marriage remains controversial, and the future of same-sex unions remains in doubt in many places, many strides have been made. In a relatively short period of time, gay marriage has become the law of the land in a number of states, from the west coast to the east, and legislatures in other states continue to tackle this difficult and sometimes emotional issue.
US Supreme Court rules gay marriage is legal nationwide
It means the 14 states with bans on same-sex marriage will no longer be able to enforce them.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the plaintiffs asked „for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.“
The ruling brings to an end more than a decade of bitter legal battles.
Same-sex couples in several affected states including Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Texas rushed to wed on Friday.
However officials in other states, including Mississippi and Louisiana, said marriages had to wait until procedural issues were addressed.
President Barack Obama said the ruling was a „victory for America“.
„When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free “ he said.
However, Christian conservatives condemned the decision.
Former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called it „an out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny“.
And Kellie Fiedorek, a lawyer for an anti-gay marriage advocacy group, said the decision „ignored the voices of thousands of Americans“.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, a state where marriages licences will now be issued to same-sex couples, said the justices „have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions reserve to the people of the states“.
States across U.S. still cling to outdated gay marriage bans
Following years of failed attempts under Republican control, Virginia’s newly empowered Democrats finally passed bills repealing two outdated state laws that prohibited same-sex marriage. Sen. Adam Ebbin, the first openly gay lawmaker in the state’s General Assembly, introduced the bill, which was one of four pro-LGBTQ measures passed in the state this month.
“This is really just bringing Virginia into the 21st century,” Ebbin told The Washington Post shortly after the bills’ passage. “Voters showed us they wanted equality on Nov. 5, and the Senate of Virginia has started to deliver on that.”
Despite the Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges making same-sex marriage the law of the land, most states still have outdated laws on their books like the ones Virginia just repealed.
Indiana is one of those states, though an attempt to remove its gay marriage ban was unsuccessful last month in the Republican-controlled state Legislature. In fact, GOP opposition to its removal derailed legislation seeking to raise the legal age to marry in the state from 15 to 18. An amendment had been added to the age-limit bill that sought to scrap the state’s 1997 law declaring: “Only a female may marry a male. Only a male may marry a female.”
“I did not think it was unreasonable to remove what is now null-and-void unconstitutional language from the code,” state Rep. Matt Pierce, a Democrat, said in defense of the amendment. “I didn’t think it would be that controversial, because this issue has been settled now. Apparently to the Republican caucus it is controversial.”
„The religious right has not said, ‚We lost same-sex marriage, and we are moving on.‘ They are still fighting same-sex marriage, both politically and legally.“
In Florida, Democratic legislators have been trying for years to repeal the state’s ban — which says “marriage” means “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” — with no luck.
„This is not just, you know, unconstitutional and not just obsolete, but this is cruel language in our statute. So, it needs to get out of there,“ Rep. Adam Hattersley told WUSF Public Media, adding that members of the state’s Republican leadership “don’t have an appetite to fix something” that they “hope would come back into play in the future.”
Five years after the Supreme Court had its say on the issue, same-sex marriage remains a politically contentious issue, and LGBTQ advocates continue to battle in courtrooms and statehouses to ensure gay couples can exercise their right to marry.
Which countries in Europe allow gay marriage?
Malta and Germany have become the latest European countries to legalise gay marriage, joining more than a dozen others on the continent.
The Netherlands became the first in the world to allow homosexual couples to tie the knot at the turn of the century.
Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden have since joined the Dutch.
Gay marriage is also legal in the United Kingdom, except in Northern Ireland.
Europe has a broad east-west divide on the issue, with the likes of Russia and Ukraine among the worst for LGBT rights, according to campaigners.
Northern and western Europe allows gay marriage, while the further east and south-east you go, the less liberal it is.
A clutch of countries south of Germany – such as Austria and Italy – allow gay couples to enter into civil partnerships, rather than marriage.
U.S. Appeals Court Rules That States Must Allow Gay Marriage
DENVER — A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that states must allow gay couples to marry. The court ruled that the Constitution protected same-sex relationships and put a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The three-judge panel in Denver ruled 2-1 that states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they want to be wedded to someone of the same sex.
See also: A Short History of Obama’s Evolving Stance on Gay Marriage
The judges on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel addressed arguments that the ruling could undermine traditional marriage. „It is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of love and commitment of same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples,“ the judges wrote.
The decision upheld a lower court ruling that struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban. It becomes law in the six states covered by the 10th Circuit: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. But the panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.
The Utah attorney general’s office will appeal the decision but is still assessing whether it will go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court or ask the entire 10th Circuit to review the ruling, spokeswoman Missy Larsen said.
„Although the Court’s 2-1 split decision does not favor the State, we are pleased that the ruling has been issued and takes us one step closer to reaching certainty and finality for all Utahans on such an important issue with a decision from the highest court,“ the office said in a statement.
Wednesday afternoon, the couples named in the appeal hugged, cried and exchanged kisses at a news conference outside their attorney’s offices in downtown Salt Lake City.
„This decision is an absolute victory for fairness and equality for all families in Utah, in every state in the 10th Circuit and every state in this great nation of the United States,“ said their attorney, Peggy Tomsic.
Plaintiff Derek Kitchen said he and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, are „so proud to be a part of history.“
„It feels wonderful to be among one of the many same-sex couples across the country that are being respected and are offered dignity by the court system, and this is just emblematic of the United States judicial process,“ Kitchen said. „I don’t think that the state of Utah can continue to deny same-sex couples their rights for much longer.“
The decision gives increased momentum to a legal cause that already has compiled an impressive record in the lower courts after the Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, 16 federal judges have issued rulings siding with gay marriage advocates.
The latest of those rulings came Wednesday in Indiana, where a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban in a decision that immediately allows gay couples to wed.
Melody Merida, center, marries Erin Lynae Fox, right, and Jennifer Elizabeth Fox as their sons Isaac, 7, left, and Redmond, 4, look on in the Marion County Clerk’s office in Indianapolis on Wednesday. A federal judge struck down Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday in a ruling that immediately allowed gay couples to wed.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said Utah’s legal victory was particularly important because of where it originated — a conservative, deeply religious state in the heart of the mountain west.
„What is so powerful here is that we have the first federal appellate court and … it’s a case coming out of Utah affirming in the strongest, clearest, boldest terms that the Constitution guarantees the freedom to marry and equal protection for all Americans and all means all, including gay couples,“ he said.
The Mormon church, based in Salt Lake City, said on its website that it maintains marriage should be between a man and a woman, but believes „all people should be treated with respect.“
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said he was disappointed with the panel’s decision and believes states should determine their own laws regarding same-sex marriage. He hopes the high court will rule on the issue to provide clarity.
„We can’t get finality and final resolution unless the Supreme Court hears the case and makes a decision,“ Herbert said at a news conference.
In his dissent, Justice Paul J. Kelly Jr. said the 10th Circuit overstepped its authority and that states should be able to decide who can marry.
„We should resist the temptation to become philosopher-kings, imposing our views under the guise of the Fourteenth Amendment,“ Kelly wrote.
More than 1,000 Utah same-sex couples wed in December after the initial ruling in the case, before the Supreme Court issued a stay. Along with the Utah case, the 10th Circuit panel considered a challenge to Oklahoma’s ban. It did not immediately rule in that case Wednesday.
Though the Utah and Oklahoma cases have been closely watched, it is unclear if one of them will be the first to reach the Supreme Court. The high court could choose from cases moving through five other federal appellate courts, and wouldn’t consider a case until next year at the earliest.
For more than a decade, the battle over same-sex marriage and other rights for gay couples has been hard fought in U.S. courts and legislatures and at the ballot box. Use this timeline to view milestones in the fight and how state laws have changed since 2000. On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry nationwide.
US state to allow gay marriage
Massachusetts is poised to become the only US state to allow gay marriage following a legal ruling yesterday which will have widespread political ramifications ahead of next year’s presidential election.
The Massachusetts supreme court gave the state’s lawmakers 180 days to work out how to ensure equality at the altar after ruling 4 to 3 that same-sex couples were legally entitled to get married under its constitution.
„Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family – these are among the most basic of every individual’s liberty and due process rights,“ the majority opinion said. „And central to personal freedom and security is the assurance that the laws will apply equally to persons in similar situations.“
The state’s Republican governor, Mitt Romney, immediately criticised the ruling, saying: „Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. I will support an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution that makes that expressly clear. Of course, we must provide basic civil rights and appropriate benefits to nontraditional couples, but marriage is a special institution that should be reserved for a man and a woman.“
But Mary Bonauto, the lawyer who represented the seven gay couples who sued the state, said that the legislators would not be able to change the state constitution within the 180-day timeframe. She insisted that the only task assigned to the legislature was to come up with the legal changes to make gay marriage possible.
„This is a very good day for gay and lesbian families in Massachusetts and throughout the country,“ Ms Bonauto said.
The court, however, stopped short of allowing marriage licences to be issued to the couples who challenged the law until the legislature had come up with a means of enforcing the ruling.
The decision marks yet another victory for gay rights activists in a tumultuous year that has seen the ordination of the Episcopal church’s first openly gay bishop and a United States supreme court judgment which declared anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional, effectively making consensual sex between gay couples legal.
But it is also likely to make the issue of gay rights the central social issue in next year’s presidential elections, pitting the Christian right – the bedrock of Republican support – against gay rights campaigners and civil libertarians.
When the Hawaii supreme court ruled that the denial of gay marriages was unconstitutional in 1993, the legislature quickly intervened with legislation banning gay marriage. Dozens of other states moved pre-emptively to ward off a similar development, while Congress moved to deny federal recognition of homosexual marriage and allowed states to ignore same-sex unions licensed elsewhere.
Polls show American public opinion is in flux on the issue. Attitudes towards homosexuality have softened in recent years. In a USA Today poll in July nearly one third said they had become more accepting of gay people in recent years, compared to just 8% who had become less accepting. Almost 90% said gay people should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities.
However, while the nation may have become more tolerant it is divided when it comes to granting gay couples full equality. According to a poll released yesterday, most Americans, 55%, say they felt that homosexuality was a sin, while 33% did not. And while 32% favoured gay marriage, 59% opposed it.
The gulf between the court rulings and a rapidly shifting public opinion has provided the space for an intense cultural and political clash. The gay advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign has launched a $1m advertising campaign to put gay marriage in a positive light.
RI becomes 10th state to allow gay marriage; hundreds cheer as gov signs bill into law
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island has become the nation’s 10th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, after a 16-year effort to extend marriage rights in this heavily Roman Catholic state.
Gays, lesbians, their friends and families erupted into cheers Thursday following a final 56-15 vote in the Rhode Island House, and then again an hour later when Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the bill into law on the Statehouse steps.
„Democracy feels good, doesn’t it?“ said House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence, who is gay. Fox struggled to keep his composure as he addressed the crowd at the Statehouse, looking over at his longtime partner, Marcus LaFond. „This tells me our relationship does matter. It means that we mean something.“
The first marriages will take place Aug. 1, when the new law takes effect.
The day was bittersweet for Deborah Tevyaw, whose wife, state corrections officer Pat Baker, succumbed to lung cancer two years ago. Months before she died, Baker, relying on an oxygen tank, angrily told lawmakers that it was unfair that Tevyaw wasn’t considered her wife in Rhode Island despite their marriage in Massachusetts.
„I’m ecstatic, but sad she’s not here to see this,“ Tevyaw said. „I’m sure she’s watching, but she’s not here next to me. Before she died, she told me, `I started this, and now I’m leaving it in your hands.‘ We worked hard for this. There were petitions, door knocking, phone calls. I think people decided, `just let people be happy.'“
Once consigned to the political fringe, gay marriage advocates succeeded this year thanks to a sprawling lobbying effort that included support from organized labor leaders, religious clergy, leaders including Chafee and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and hundreds of volunteers. Their efforts overcame the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church and lawmakers including Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who voted no but allowed the issue to come to a vote anyway.
Supporters framed the issue as one of civil rights, arguing in daylong legislative hearings that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and protections given to opposite-sex married couples. The Catholic Church was the most significant opponent, with Bishop Thomas Tobin urging lawmakers to defeat what he called an „immoral and unnecessary“ change to traditional marriage law.
On Thursday, Tobin repeated his opposition, writing in a letter to the state’s Catholics that „homosexual acts are… always sinful.“
„Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies,“ Tobin wrote. „To do so might harm their relationship with God.“
The Rhode Island legislation states that religious institutions may set their own rules regarding who is eligible to marry within the faith and specifies that no religious leader is obligated to officiate at any marriage ceremony and no religious group is required to provide facilities or services related to a gay marriage.
While ministers already cannot be forced to marry anyone, the exemption helped assuage concerns from some lawmakers that clergy could face lawsuits for abiding by their religious convictions.
Under the new law, civil unions will no longer be available to same-sex couples as of Aug. 1, though the state would continue to recognize existing civil unions. Lawmakers approved civil unions two years ago, though few couples have sought them.
The first marriages will take place Aug. 1, when the new law takes effect. Raymond Beausejour, 66, used to photograph weddings, but the gay North Providence man never expected he would have one himself.
„I’ve been waiting 32 years for this day, and I never thought it would come in my lifetime,“ said Beausejour, who has been with his partner for 32 years. „For the first time in my life, I feel welcome in my own state.“
Delaware could be the next state to approve gay marriage. Legislation legalizing same-sex marriage has narrowly passed the Delaware House and now awaits a vote in the state Senate.
Advocates in Rhode Island say that while they’re proud the state is the 10th to legalize gay marriage, they expect other states to quickly follow as support for gay marriage grows around the country. According to polling experts at Gallup, 53 percent of Americans support giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, up from 27 percent in 1996.
Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, who lobbied for gay marriage before becoming a lawmaker himself, recalled that years ago he asked a sitting lawmaker if he would consider supporting same-sex marriage. „He said `I’ll pour gasoline on my head and light myself on fire before that bill passes,'“ Ferri recalled.
That has changed, said Ferri, who is gay. Ferri said he hopes Fox can marry him and his partner on Aug. 1, which also happens to be the couple’s 32nd anniversary.
„Today a dream has come true,“ he said. „No more hiding in the shadows. No more being ashamed of who we are.“
Gay Marriage Arguments Divide Supreme Court Justices
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday was deeply divided over one of the great civil rights issues of the age, same-sex marriage. But Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whose vote is probably crucial, gave gay rights advocates reasons for optimism based on the tone and substance of his questions.
In two and a half hours of arguments over whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry, Justice Kennedy sent conflicting signals. At some points, he seemed wary of moving too fast and torn about what to do. But his demeanor was more emotional and emphatic when he made the case that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry. He is also the author of three landmark opinions expanding the rights of gay Americans.
The other justices for the most part played to type, clashing over what they saw as the right answer in the case and also over how to reach it. The questioning illuminated their conflicting views on history, tradition, biology, constitutional interpretation, the democratic process and the role of the courts in prodding social change.
That left the courtroom focused on Justice Kennedy. He said he was concerned about changing a conception of marriage that has persisted for thousands of years based on little more than a decade of experience with same-sex marriage in the United States.
“I don’t even know how to count the decimals when we talk about millennia,” he said. “This definition has been with us for millennia. And it’s very difficult for the court to say, ‘Oh, well, we know better.’ ” He added that “the social science on this” — the value and perils of same-sex marriage — is “too new.”
Later, though, he expressed qualms about excluding gay couples from the institution of marriage.
“Same-sex couples say, of course: ‘We understand the nobility and the sacredness of the marriage. We know we can’t procreate but we want the other attributes of it in order to show that we, too, have a dignity that can be fulfilled,’ ” Justice Kennedy said, strongly suggesting that the reasoning resonated with him.
The day’s arguments, over same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, were divided into two segments. At the start of the first, about whether states must allow same-sex marriage, Mary L. Bonauto, representing more than a dozen gay and lesbian couples, urged the justices to remove “the stain of unworthiness” that marriage bans produce.
She was met with a barrage of skeptical questions from the court’s more conservative justices, as expected. But there were several queries from Justice Kennedy that caused leaders of the gay rights movement who were in the courtroom to squirm.
He asked, for instance, whether “there has not been really time” for “the federal system to engage in this debate.”
Justice Antonin Scalia echoed Justice Kennedy’s language in emphasizing how new same-sex marriage is. “Do you know of any society, prior to the Netherlands in 2001, that permitted same-sex marriage?” he asked Ms. Bonauto. She said no, at least as a legal matter.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. suggested that Ms. Bonauto was asking the court to do something radical.
“You’re not seeking to join the institution,” he said. “You’re seeking to change what the institution is.”
The chief justice added that he was worried about shutting down a fast-moving societal debate.
“One of the things that’s truly extraordinary about this whole issue is how quickly has been the acceptance of your position across broad elements of society,” he said.
Justice Scalia agreed. “The issue, of course, is not whether there should be same-sex marriage, but who should decide the point.” The right answer, he said, was the people or their elected representatives, not the courts.
On this point, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, had his own reservations.
“Suddenly you want nine people outside the ballot box to require states that don’t want to do it to change what marriage is to include gay people,” he said. “Why cannot those states at least wait and see whether in fact doing so in the other states is or is not harmful to marriage?” Later in the argument, though, Justice Breyer indicated support for same-sex marriage as part of basic liberty. “Marriage is about as basic a right as there is,” he said.
The other side’s argument, he said, was that “people have always done it” in a certain fashion.
“You know,” he said, “you could have answered that one the same way we talk about racial segregation.”
Justices Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. were more consistent in opposing a constitutional right to such unions.
Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling turns 5: Acceptance, advancement, but opposition remains
WASHINGTON – Five years after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision extending marriage rights to gay men and lesbians nationwide, same-sex marriage has become „so not a big deal.“
That’s the assessment of Hillary Goodridge, one of 14 people whose lawsuit led Massachusetts in 2003 to become the first state to sanction gay and lesbian marriages. Twelve years later, by a 5-4 vote, the high court made it 50 states.
Today, the constitutional right announced by five justices on June 26, 2015, has become old hat. More than 500,000 same-sex couples in the United States are married, including about 300,000 who have wed since the 2015 ruling. Goodridge and her partner at the time, Julie Goodridge, have married, divorced and raised a daughter.
But despite gains in legal rights, economic status, public acceptance and emotional well-being, the LGBTQ community faces continued challenges from the Trump administration and religious groups in areas ranging from adoption and foster care to the rights of transgender people to join the military or use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
„This sometimes feels to me like the last roar of the dinosaurs,“ Hillary Goodridge says. By contrast, she says, “once you go to a same-sex wedding, it’s hard to fire the person for being gay the next day.”
The Supreme Court extended workplace protections nationwide last week for the LGBTQ community, ruling 6-3 that a landmark civil rights law barring sex discrimination in the workplace applies to gay, lesbian and transgender workers.
Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, did not close the door on religious exemptions, saying „other employers in other cases may raise free exercise arguments that merit careful consideration.“
The court already is considering four major religion cases, including several with implications for gay, lesbian and transgender people. One of them, to be heard next fall, will decide if foster care agencies with religious objections can turn down gay and lesbian couples.
Those seeking religious exemptions „are feeling intense public pressure … to get with the LGBT program or otherwise disappear,“ says John Bursch, who argued the 2015 same-sex marriage case on behalf of four states that opposed marriage equality – Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Now vice president of appellate advocacy at Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group, Bursch is among those who still define marriage as between one man and one woman and continue to defend the rights of religious opponents.
„You may see all of this walked back,“ he warns of the legal gains made by the LGBTQ movement in recent years. „Eventually, it’s not love that wins. It’s truth that wins.“
10. Argentina (July 2010)
In July of 2010, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriages, attributing Argentine gay people the same marital rights as the nation’s heterosexuals. A long and taxing national debate preceded the decision, with the Senate finally voting 33 to 27 in favor of the law. One of the leading proponents of same-sex marriages was the President of the country, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who constantly fought for recognition of the rights of the homosexuals, though against the will of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church bore an extremely bitter attitude regarding this decision, and held massive protests across the country to derail the change. However, the success of the President and her allied advocates in support of same-sex marriages in Argentina reveals the increasing willingness of the country to stand against the rigid measures of the Church. This is despite there being no clear separation of the church from state in this country.
9. Iceland (June 2010)
Iceland, a country well known for its liberal attitude towards same sex partners, passed a law on June 27, 2010, that allowed same-sex couples to legally marry. The country, then headed by a Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, who openly declared herself to be gay, met little political resistance in passing this law. A vote ratio of 49 to 0 in favor of including ‘man and man’ and ‘woman and woman’ unions into the marriage legislation proves this fact. Currently, Iceland is regarded as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world, with a large number of foreign same-sex couples visiting Iceland to get married there. This choice is fueled not just by the fact that same-sex marriages are legalized in the country, but also because the Icelandic society in general is highly progressive, and largely accepts such marriages without any resistance.
8. Portugal (June 2010)
There is a long story lying behind the legalization of same-sex marriages in Portugal. A lesbian couple, Teresa Pires and Helena Paixão, appealed for a marriage license in 2006, which was then completely rejected. They took the issue to court, claiming they were unjustly discriminated on the basis of their sexual orientation, which was not legal as per the 1976 Portuguese constitution. When the lower courts rejected their motion, they appealed to the Portuguese Constitutional Court in July of 2007. The court decided on the basis of a 3-2 vote that, though the constitution does not legalize same sex marriages, it also does not oppose it. The complicated case of the couple now had to be handled by the Portuguese Parliament. While this case was being processed, major political changes were taking place place in the scenario of same-sex marriages in the country. The newly re-elected Prime Minsiter, José Sócrates, with the support of the Socialist Party and Left Bloc, proposed an amendment to the Family Code to render the definition of marriage gender-neutral. Finally, on June 5, 2010, same-sex marriages were legalized in Portugal in spite of protests by the Catholic Church of the country. Then, on June 7, 2010, Teresa Pires and Helena Paixão united in matrimony, becoming the first same sex couple to marry in the country. Full recognition of rights to same-sex couples, however, was not given until 5 years later. Then in 2015, the Parliament passed another law making adoption by same-sex couples legal.
7. Sweden (May 2009)
Like other Scandinavian countries, the Swedish community has always been progressive in its social attitudes, and has openly accepted same-sex couples. Sweden was thus one of the first few countries to designate legally recognized partnership rights to gay couples in the mid 1990s, and also allowed such couples to adopt children as early as 2002. However, the major step of legalizing same-sex marriages in the country was taken in 2009, when a large majority of the Swedish Parliament (226:22) voted in favor of the law. Although six out of the seven parties represented in the Parliament voted in favor, the Christian Democrats refused to support the law. The Lutheran Church of Sweden had agreed to bless gay partnerships since 2007, but were not yet ready to allow gay weddings in their churches. Individual pastors, meanwhile, were given freedom to refuse or allow such weddings in their respective churches.
6. Norway (January 2009)
On June 17, 2008, the Norwegian Parliament, the Storting, approved a law that allowed same sex couples to enjoy the same matrimonial rights as heterosexual couples. This law thus allowed gay partners to marry in civil or religious ceremonies, to adopt children, and to partake in artificial insemination. The law was implemented on the coming New Year, January 1, 2009. The country’s upper house of parliament cast a vote of 23-17 in favor of the law, replacing the 1993 legislation that allowed same-sex partners to enter civil unions, but did not allow church weddings and adoption. The Church of Norway was split on this issue of gay marriage legalization in 2013, but, in 2015, the General Synod of the Church of Norway voted in favor of offering services to same sex marriage ceremonies. Still, the Curch of Norway allowed its individual congregations to accept or refuse such requests from same-sex couples.
5. South Africa (November 2006)
On December 1, 2006, South Africa became the first country in Africa to legalize same-sex marriages. On November 14, the parliamentarians of the country voted in favor of the Civil Union Bill favoring same-sex marriages, and effectively passing it as a law. The story behind this historic decision dates back to 2002. That year, a lesbian couple, Marié Fourie and Cecelia Bonthuys, appealed to the Pretoria High Court to have their union recognized as a legal marriage. Even though their appeal was rejected at first, finally the court ruled that the existing legal definition of marriage led to gender discrimination, which was against the constitutional rights of the people. Hence, the need for a constitutional amendment arose, which led to its drafting, and the ultimate Cabinet approval of the Civil Union Bill in August of 2006. Despite protests by thousands of South Africans in September of that same year, the Bill was finally passed by the South African parliament, leading to a victory for same-sex couples in the country.
4. Canada (July 2005)
In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada made it possible for same-sex couples to enjoy some of the financial and legal benefits associated with marriage. However, legal recognition of same-sex marriages were nowhere to be seen in this picture. The stance on such marriages also varied from province to province in the country, since most laws affecting couples were handled by provincial jurisdiction. However, the gradual shift in the attitudes of the Canadian community in favor of same sex marriages, and recent court rulings in the provinces of Canada supporting such unions, led the Parliament of Canada to rethink their stance on this important issue. After months of debates, refusals, and readings, finally Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act, was amended to make provisions for legalization of Canadian same-sex marriages. This was passed by the Parliament on June 28, 2005, and then moved to the Senate, which also passed the Bill on July 19, 2005. After the Bill received Royal Assent on July 20, 2005, it finally became active, giving gay couples the opportunity to rejoice.
3. Spain (July 2005)
In July of 2015, Spain celebrated its ten year anniversary of the legalization of gay marriages therein. The country was the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage on a national level. The attempt to legalize such marriages was made as early as 2004 by the country’s then newly elected Socialist government. The parliament and senate of Spain passed the law on June 30, 2005, and it came into effect on July 3, 2005. The first same-sex marriage in Spain took place on July 11, involving the gay couple of Emilio Menéndez and Carlos Baturín. Even though the Roman Catholic Church actively protested against this law, a vast 66% majority of the country’s population, despite being known to bear a traditionalistic attitude, supported the law. Over the next 10 years to follow, around 31,610 same-sex marriages took place in Spain, rendering Spain as one the best countries for gay rights.
2. Belgium (June 2003)
On June 1, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legalize same sex marriages. Following years of heated debates and significant protests by Belgian gay-rights organizations, coupled with the rising acceptance of gay rights among the Belgian community, the bill legalizing gay marriages were finally approved by 91 of the 122 deputies of the Belgian Parliament’s lower house. Despite this reformatory decision by the government, and though the law granted same-sex couples there similar privileges that are enjoyed by heterosexual couples, the right to adoption by these couples was denied. It was two years later that such came to fruition, when in 2005 a new bill was passed, granting gay couples the right to adopt children.
1. The Netherlands (April 2001)
The Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay marraige. As early as the mid-1980s, gay rights organizations had been active in the country in demanding legal recognition of same-sex marriages. In 1995, the Parliament decided to set up a commission to discuss this issue. The commission worked quickly, and in 1997 concluded that the definition of civil marriage should be amended to include same-sex couples. The marriage bill was drafted and debated in the Dutch Parliament, and finally passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on December 19, 2000. The law came into effect on April 1, 2001. After this decision, the Protestant Church of the country permitted its individual congregations to make their own decisions on whether or not to provide their respective services for such marriages. Today, after nearly 15 years of legalization of same-sex marriages in Netherlands, the country serves as a paradise for same-sex couples from the world over, who come to the Netherlands to enjoy full rights as couples.
Countries that allow same-sex marriage in some jurisdictions
In 2015, the Mexican Supreme Court issued a ruling making it much easier for gay and lesbian couples to wed. The decision gave same-sex couples the right to seek a court injunction against state laws banning gay marriage; although it did not technically legalize same-sex unions nationwide, it was a major step in that direction. Mexico’s Supreme Court also issued a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in 2010, saying that same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City were valid and that they must be accepted throughout the country (Mexico City had legalized gay marriage in December 2009). Since 2011, the southern Mexican state of Quintana Roo also has allowed gay marriages. In 2014, the congress of the northern state of Coahuila approved same-sex marriage, and in 2015, neighboring Chihuahua followed suit.
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Gay Marriage by State
As of 2020, 37 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. AlabamaMissouri, and Alabama have done so with restrictions. Thirteen U.S. states have a ban on same-sex marriage; however, eight of these states have court rulings in favor of allowing same-sex marriage.
In the 2020 election, Nevada became the first state to recognize gay marriage in a state constitution. The ballot question asked voters if they support an amendment recognizing marraige „as between couples regardless of gender.“
Below are the states that have legalized gay marriage in the order in which they legalized. Dates are of the enactment or ruling.
The following states have not legalized gay marriage:
* MASSACHUSETTS – In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay marriage after its highest court ruled the state’s ban violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.
* CONNECTICUT – In 2008, the state Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling and found that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry. Soon after, the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
* IOWA – A unanimous ruling by the state Supreme Court in 2009 legalized same-sex marriage. The next year, a recall campaign by opponents of same-sex marriage forced three judges from the bench. A 2012 effort to oust a fourth judge was unsuccessful.
* VERMONT – In 2009, Vermont became the first state to legalize gay marriage by legislative means. Vermont in 2000 had become the first state to allow civil unions for gay couples. After the state legislature passed the measure, Governor Jim Douglas vetoed it. Legislators then voted to override his veto.
* NEW HAMPSHIRE – Two years after New Hampshire began allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, the state approved gay marriage in 2009.
* WASHINGTON, D.C. – In 2009, lawmakers in the U.S. capital voted to legalize gay marriage. Because the District of Columbia is not a state, the legislation required congressional approval. In early 2010, efforts to block the law were unsuccessful and it took effect that March.
* NEW YORK – After a gay marriage bill failed in New York’s Democratic-controlled Senate by a margin of 38 to 24 in 2009, advocates retooled their strategy and applied pressure to lawmakers who had voted “no.” In 2011, the Republican-controlled state Senate joined the Democratic-led state Assembly and passed the bill by four votes.
* RHODE ISLAND – In 2013, after the state legislature and governor approved a gay marriage bill, Rhode Island became the last of the New England states to legalize same-sex marriage. The law takes effect on August 1.
* DELAWARE – In 2013, the Delaware state legislature approved same-sex marriage and the bill was signed into law by the governor. The law takes effect on July 1.
* MINNESOTA: 2013 – After Minnesota voters became the first to reject a proposed state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman in 2012, the state legislature proposed a same-sex marriage legalization bill in 2013. The bill was approved and takes effect on August 1.
States That Historically Allowed Gay Marriage
Alabama is technically one of the states that allows gay marriage, but until the Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples couldn’t get hitched there. Why? Less than a month after the federal court overturned Alabama’s gay marriage ban, the state’s Supreme Court ordered judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The federal judge who overturned the ban has since reaffirmed her initial ruling, but she also put enforcement of her decision on hold until the US Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling was delivered. Now that gay marriage is legal in all states, new marriage licenses can be issued to gay couples in Alabama.
In November 1998, Alaska became the first of two states to ban same-sex marriage in the US with a constitutional amendment. The law limited the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman only. Sixteen years later, on October 17, 2014, a federal judge overturned that ban and declared it unconstitutional, making Alaska the 30th state with gay marriage.
Gay marriage became legal in Arizona on October 17, 2014, when the state’s ban on same-sex nuptials, which was approved by voters in 2008, was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge. The Arizona attorney general choose not to appeal the ruling, which meant that same-sex marriages could be performed that very same day.
In a ruling issued in May 2008, California’s Supreme Court called marriage a „basic civil right“ and legalized it between same-sex couples in the state. The law went into effect on June 16 but was halted five months later due to the passage of Proposition 8, an amendment that upheld California’s gay marriage ban by defining marriage as a union between a man and a women. Same-sex couples were not permitted to marry until June 16, 2013, when the Supreme Court finally nullified the amendment in a 5-4 decision.
In May 2013, Colorado legalized civil unions for both heterosexual and same-sex couples. While civil unions do provide many of the same rights awarded to married couples, those rights are only recognized at a state level; federal protections, such as tax and social security benefits, are not allowed. It would be more than a year before Colorado finally became a gay marriage state, which happened on October 7, 2014.
Same-sex couples in Connecticut were given the right to enter into civil unions in 2005. Three years later, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that those unions did not provide privileges equal to those awarded in marriage and struck down the state’s gay marriage ban as a result. All existing civil unions between same-sex couples were converted into marriages, and Connecticut became the third state to legalize gay marriage.
Delaware was another state to legalize gay marriage after ruling that civil unions did not provide gay couples with adequate benefits. When the law went into effect in the summer of 2013, State Senator Karen Peterson and her partner were the first same-sex couple in the state to have their civil union converted into a marriage.
Gay Marriage Fact: On September 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (often referred to as DOMA). The law banned same-sex marriage in the US by defining the institution of marriage as „a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.“
Florida’s voter-approved ban on same-sex nuptials was found unconstitutional by a US district court in August 2014. But because of a stay placed on the ruling by the state, it did not end up going into effect until January 6, 2015. On that day, more than 1,200 gay marriages were performed.
Hawaii became a state where gay marriage is legal thanks to the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act, which was passed on October 28, 2013, and went into effect on December 2. After the ruling was announced, the state’s attorney general said that the bill „unequivocally affirmed the right of people to marry the person they love without regard to gender.“
In May of 2014, a US district court found Idaho’s nine-year ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. After two stays delayed the ruling from going into effect many months, the conservative state finally allowed gay marriage on October 15, 2014. More than 100 same-sex couples were married that day.
Gay Marriage Fact: On June 26, 2013, 18 years after DOMA banned same-sex marriage in the US, the Supreme Court struck a key part of it down, asserting that Section 3—which defined marriage as a union between a man and a women only—was unconstitutional. As a result of this landmark ruling, legally married same-sex couples became entitled to the same federal benefits as married heterosexual couples.
On November 20, 2013, the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act was signed into law, clearing the way for Illinois to become a gay marriage state. President Obama, who served in the Illinois General Assembly, was extremely pleased with the decision and said, „Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours—and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.“
Iowa became the first state in the Midwest to allow gay marriage on April 3, 2009. The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, citing it as unconstitutional. Marriage licenses began being issued to same-sex couples three weeks later.
Gay Marriage Fact: On October 6, 2014, the US Supreme Court made a momentous decision to reject petitions from five states seeking to appeal pending same-sex marriage cases in Indiana, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin. In doing so, the high court immediately lifted gay marriage bans in those five states and cleared the way for six more to swiftly follow suit.
Indiana first banned same-sex marriage way back in 1986. The ban wasn’t overturned until nearly 30 years later, when the US Supreme Court made its impactful October 6 decision, immediately making Indiana a state where gay marriage is legal.
Like Alabama, Kansas was a gay marriage state in theory: The US Supreme Court’s October 6 decision set precedent for Kansas courts, and two days later a judge ordered Johnson County—the most populous county in the state—to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But many other counties refused to do so until they were forced by court action, which means the state’s unified same-sex marriage status remained in limbo until the US Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling today.
Maine made history when it became one of the first of three states to legalize gay marriage by popular vote. The legislation was approved 53-47 by voters on November 6, 2012, and the win was regarded as a watershed moment for marriage equality, reflecting a major shift in public opinion on same-sex marriage in the US. The law took effect on December 29, 2012.
Along with Maine, gay couples in Maryland also won the right to marry via popular vote in November 2012. Prior to these historic election night victories, same-sex marriage had been continually struck down by every state in the US that held a vote for it. Maryland’s state ban on gay marriage was also the country’s first—it had been in effect since 1973.
Gay Marriage Fact: In 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting president in history to openly declare support for gay marriage.
Massachusetts led the way: It was the first state to legalize gay marriage. It was also the sixth jurisdiction in the world (behind the Netherlands, Belgium, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec) to allow same-sex marriage. According to data reviewed by the Associated Press, nearly 25,900 same-sex marriages have been performed in the state between 2004 and 2013.
In November 2012, Minnesota voters became the first in the country to reject a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. A marriage-equality bill was passed soon thereafter and signed into law during the spring of 2013. Behind Iowa, Minnesota was the second gay marriage state in the Midwest.
Before becoming the 34 th state to allow gay marriage, Montana denied marriage rights to gay couples with a 1997 statute and a 2004 amendment to the state constitution. It was that amendment, called Initiative 96, that was overturned by a federal judge in 2014, enabling Montana to become a gay marriage state.
Two days after the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (a federal court with jurisdiction over numerous western states, including Nevada) issued a ruling in favor of the freedom to marry, the Silver State overturned its ban on gay marriage, which had been in place since 2002. Nevada became the 26 th gay marriage state, creating a nationwide majority of states allowing same-sex marriage.
New Hampshire became one of the states in which gay marriage is legal as a result of legislation signed by the state’s governor in June 2009. In addition to awarding full rights to same-sex couples, the law, which went into effect on January 1, 2010, also converted all existing same-sex civil unions into marriages.
Gay Marriage Fact: According to an April 2015 Gallup poll, there are approximately 390,000 married same-sex couples in the US.
After two same-sex marriage bills failed to become law (the first was defeated by the senate in 2010; the second was vetoed by the governor in 2012), same-sex marriage finally became legal in the Garden State in the fall of 2013. New Jersey was the first state to legalize gay marriage since the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.
New Mexico became the 17 th state in the US—and the first in the Southwest—to officially legalize gay marriage when the state’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of freedom to marry. Prior to this decision, the state had no specific statute or constitutional amendment addressing same-sex marriage, which meant it was left up to each county to decide if gay marriage would be permitted.
Gay marriage became legal in New York as a result of the Marriage Equality Act, which took effect on July 24, 2011. The law fully grants marriage to same-sex couples while also protecting religious institutions or clergy from being penalized if they choose not to participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony.
Gay Marriage Fact: From 2011 until 2013 (when California re-legalized marriage for same-sex couples), New York was the most populous gay marriage state in the union.
North Carolina began legally recognizing gay marriage in the fall of 2014, when a US district court judge ruled that the state’s 18-year ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. In June 2015, state legislators passed a law similar to New York’s Marriage Equality Act, keeping gay marriage intact but allowing officials the right to refuse performing same-sex unions due to religious beliefs.
Much to the dismay of the state’s largely conservative lawmakers, Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage was lifted by the US Supreme Court’s pivotal October 2014 decision. In March of the following year, state Republicans passed a law restricting county clerks from issuing marriage licenses, a move intended to make gay marriages more difficult to obtain. The plan backfired, however, after a wave of same-sex-marriage supporters applied to become ministers so they could perform state weddings themselves.
Oregon was already primed to legalize gay marriage when the state’s 2004 ban was struck down by a federal district court in May 2014. Prior to that ruling, equal rights organization Oregon United for Marriage proposed a state constitutional amendment legalizing same-sex marriage and had gathered enough signatures to put the proposal on the November 4 ballot (which became unnecessary after gay marriage was legalized). Additionally, a May 2014 poll conducted by DHM Research found that 58 percent of Oregon voters favored the amendment, 44 percent of which supported it strongly.
Pennsylvania was the last state in the Northeast to allow gay marriage. The state’s 18-year ban on same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional and overturned by a federal judge on May 20, 2014, who stated in his ruling that „all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage.“ Sounds about right for a state whose motto is „Virtue, liberty and independence.“
Gay Marriage Fact: According to a May 2015 survey by Pew Research Center, 57 percent of Americans support gay marriage.
In 2013, Rhode Island lawmakers voted 51-19 in favor of becoming a gay marriage state, and the law went into effect on August 1. Prior to signing the bill, the governor, a longtime proponent of gay marriage, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which he outlined his support for marriage equality and explained why the legalization of same-sex marriage in Rhode Island was critical from both a moral and an economic standpoint.
South Carolina became the 35 th state to legalize gay marriage after a US district court struck down the state’s constitutional ban in November 2014. According to a 2015 poll conducted by Winthrop University, less than half of South Carolina residents (42.8 percent) think that same-sex marriage should be legal.
A long-standing supporter of same-sex unions, Vermont was the first state to legalize gay marriage through legislation rather than a court order. It was also the first state to offer limited benefits to same-sex couples via civil unions, which were introduced in the summer of 2000. And back in 1993, the Vermont Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling which allowed women to adopt the biological children of their lesbian partners.
Along with four other states, Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was lifted on October 6, 2014, when the US Supreme Court opted not to hear appeals on numerous same-sex marriage cases. The ruling also paved the way for another major gay rights victory in the state: Just a few days later, the Virginia Department of Social Service announced that as a result of the new law, same-sex couples would be able to legally adopt children together.
The Supreme Court’s October 6 decision also legalized gay marriage in Utah. Prior to the ruling, the Beehive State had banned same-sex marriage since 1977, first with a statutory law, then by a constitutional amendment passed by the state senate in 2004. According to a 2014 poll conducted by , 53 percent of Utah residents „completely oppose“ gay marriage. Only 24 percent say they completely support it.
Gay Marriage Fact: In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize gay marriage.
Along with Maine and Maryland, Washington made history when it legalized gay marriage via popular vote during the 2012 general elections. Voters weighed in on a referendum and chose to uphold a February 2012 law legalizing same-sex marriage. The law passed by a 7.4 percent margin (53.7 percent approved, 46.3 percent rejected) and went into effect on December 5.
Marriage equality arrived in the Mountain State following the US Supreme Court’s ruling that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. While the decision did not explicitly overturn West Virginia’s ban, it did set a pretty certain precedent, which led state officials to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on October 9. Less than a month later, the state’s district court officially overturned the ban.
Wisconsin was another of the five states that saw gay marriage legalized as a result of the US Supreme Court’s October 9 decision. The state had banned same-sex marriage since 2004, when the voters approved Wisconsin’s Referendum 1, which prohibited both gay marriage and civil unions in the Badger State.
When gay marriage was legalized in Wyoming on October 21, 2014, the ruling struck down a ban that had been in place for more than 25 years. Despite being nicknamed the „Equality State“ and touting „Equal Rights“ as its official motto (which was earned as the first territory to allow women to vote), Wyoming had been the second state to legally ban same-sex marriage in the US via a statute passed in 1977.
On March 3, 2010, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 took effect, ushering in gay marriage in the District of Columbia. Prior to the ruling in in late 2009, domestic partnerships between same-sex couples had been legal in DC since 1992 (though Congress blocked the law from actually taking effect for a decade).
States That Now Allow Gay Marriage After the Supreme Court Ruling
Gay marriage was legal for one week in Arkansas following a US district court ruling that the state’s 17-year ban was unconstitutional. More than 500 same-sex couples were issued marriage licenses before the decision was suspended by the state’s Supreme Court on May 16, 2014. In November of the same year, the ban was once again overturned by a US district court, but enforcement of the ruling was put on hold pending appeal. Now, all same-sex marriage in Arkansas is legal, but in June 2015, a judge did order the state to recognize the 500-plus marriages that were performed during the state’s weeklong legal „window.“
Georgia’s 11-year constitutional ban on gay marriage, which was approved by voters in 2004 (76 percent were in favor), also prohibited same-sex couples from attaining any form of legal family status, such as domestic partnerships or civil unions. In early June 2015, the LGBT advocacy group first ever pro-gay marriage TV ad in Augusta and Savannah, two cities with fairly large LGBT communities.
Even before Kentucky took legal measures to explicitly prohibit gay marriage, the state was previously able to stop same-sex couples from getting hitched. The 1973 case Jones v. Hallahan saw a Kentucky court deny a marriage license to two women, based solely on the dictionary definition of marriage. In its ruling, the court said, „In substance, the relationship proposed … is not a marriage.“
Same-sex marriages and civil unions were both previously prohibited in the Bayou State, and in September 2014 a federal judge upheld that ban when he reversed a federal court’s decision to overturn it. The majority of Louisiana residents still oppose gay marriage, with 51 percent against it, according to the 2015 Louisiana Survey. But the number of those in support of it has been slowly rising: In 2013, 39 percent of residents surveyed were in favor of gay marriage; this year, that number rose to 42 percent.
Gay Marriage Fact: When a federal court upheld Louisiana’s gay marriage ban in September 2014, the judge broke a hot streak of rulings in favor of marriage equality—specifically 21 consecutive federal court decisions, since June 2013, to overturn gay marriage bans.
On March 21, 2014, a US district court ruled that Michigan’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. More than 300 same-sex couples were married before the ruling was halted by a court of appeals three days later. In November, the appeals court opted to reverse the district court’s decision and keep Michigan’s gay marriage ban in place, and no further same-sex weddings have been allowed — until now! The 300-plus marriages performed during Michigan’s legal „window“ were also eventually validated by the state after months of legal wrangling.
A US district court ruled Mississippi’s gay marriage unconstitutional in November 2014; however, the decision came with a two-week stay and was appealed soon afterward. That decision was still on hold pending appeal, until today, when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal for all states.
Missouri used to be a tricky one. The Show Me State has recognized gay marriages performed in other states since October 2014. And in November 2014, the state’s same-sex-marriage ban was overturned by a district court. Officials in St. Louis, Jackson County and Kansas City began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples immediately following the ruling, despite the fact that enforcement of the decision was suspended pending appeal. So while gay marriage was previously technically still illegal in Missouri, some counties chose to ignore the stay and performed same-sex nuptials. But now, gay marriage is legal for everyone in Missouri.
Nebraska’s 15-year, voter-approved ban on gay marriage remained in place until the Supreme Court recently ruled to allow same-sex marriage nationwide. The ban was previously declared unconstitutional by a district court in March 2015, and an appeals court put the ruling on hold pending appeal. The lawsuit challenging the ban was filed by the ACLU.
While lawsuits challenging North Dakota’s gay marriage ban were filed on June 6, 2014, all court proceedings regarding same-sex nuptials were suspended pending the US Supreme Court gay marriage decision. But now that the ban has been lifted, it looks like a good number of North Dakotans will be happy: Per a 2012 report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, support for gay marriage in the state has nearly doubled in eight years, with 23 percent in favor back in in 2004, and 40 percent in favor by 2012.
Gay Marriage Fact: According to a 2014 poll by Pew Research, 47 percent of adults in the US think wedding vendors should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples for religious reasons.
Banned Gay Marriage In: 2004 (state law and constitutional amendment)
A district court overturned Ohio’s gay marriage ban and declared it unconstitutional in April 2014. But a federal appeals court rebuffed that ruling and upheld the state ban seven months later. But now that the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in the US, gay couples can now legally marry in the Buckeye State.
Like so many of the other states that previously prohibited gay marriage, South Dakota’s same-sex ban was overturned by a US district court judge, but enforcement of the ruling was put on hold pending appeal. The ban has now been lifted since the US Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of marriage equality.
Tennessee previously banned all forms of same-sex unions: marriages, domestic partnerships and civil unions. In November 2014, those bans were upheld when a federal appeals court reversed a decision made by a district court to overturn them. But since the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, all same-sex couples in Tennessee can now legally marry.
While the Lone Star State previously needed a district court’s decision to strike down the state’s ban on gay marriage, the ban isn’t in effect anymore since the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling regarding same-sex marriage becoming legal in the US. One divorce, however, was recently granted to a lesbian couple from Massachusetts: On June 19, the Texas Supreme Court upheld a district court’s decision to grant the two women a divorce. But the ruling was based on a technicality, as the Supreme Court said the state’s appeal was filed too late in the process. The decision was not made because the court found the ban unconstitutional.
So basically, marriage equality in the US went from this…
And psst—the third annual digital issue of The Knot Special LGBTQ Edition is available now for download right here.
At the scene – Paul Blake, BBC News
Loud cheers erupted outside the court after the ruling was announced, and there were tears, hugs, and cheers of „USA USA USA!“.
A sea of rainbow flags overwhelmed the few anti-gay marriage activists who reacted in disbelief, and the demonstration seemed to turn into a street party.
A tour bus drove past honking as hundreds cheered the decision.
One of the demonstrators, Jordan Monaghan, called his mother from his mobile phone amid the celebrations.
„Hey mom, I’m at the Supreme Court. Your son can have a husband now,“ Mr Monaghan said.
Minutes after the ruling, couples in one of the states that had a ban, Georgia, lined up in hope of being wed.
In Texas, Yasmin Menchaca and her partner Catherine Andrews told the BBC that they are „trying to round up our parents“ in order to get married on Friday.
The two have been together for six years, and had attempted to marry in Washington state – but decided to wait because of the financial burden of flying their parents across the country.
On social media, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton merely tweeted the word „proud“ and the White House changed its Twitter avatar into the rainbow colours.
The case considered by the court concerned Jim Obergefell, an Ohio resident who was not recognised as the legal widower of his late husband, John Arthur.
„It’s my hope that gay marriage will soon be a thing of the past, and from this day forward it will simply be ‚marriage,'“ an emotional Mr Obergefell said outside the court.
The first state to allow same-sex marriage was Massachusetts, which granted the right in 2004.
In recent years, a wave of legal rulings and a dramatic shift in public opinion have expanded gay marriage in the US.
In 2012, the high court struck down a federal anti same-sex marriage law.
In the landmark 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, making gay marriage legal throughout America. The ruling was a culmination of decades of struggles, setbacks and victories along the road to full marriage equality in the United States.
Early Years: Same-Sex Marriage Bans
In 1970, just one year after the historic Stonewall Riots that galvanized the gay rights movement, law student Richard Baker and librarian James McConnell applied for a marriage license in Minnesota.
Clerk Gerald Nelson rejected their application because they were a same-sex couple, and a trial court upheld his decision. Baker and McConnell appealed, but the state Supreme Court affirmed the trial judge’s decision in 1971 in Baker v. Nelson.
When the couple appealed again, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 declined to hear the case “for want of a substantial federal question.” This ruling effectively blocked federal courts from ruling on same-sex marriage for decades, leaving the decision solely in the hands of states, which dealt blow after blow to those hoping to see gay marriage becoming legal.
In 1973, for instance, Maryland became the first state to create a law that explicitly defines marriage as a union between a man and woman, a belief held by many conservative religious groups. Other states quickly followed suit: Virginia in 1975, and FloridaCalifornia and Wyoming in 1977.
Of course, numerous other same-sex couples across the country had also applied for marriage licenses over the years, but each ended in a somber note like Baker and McConnell’s case. Though the gay rights movement saw some advancements in the 1970s and 1980s—such as Harvey Milk becoming the first openly gay man elected to public office in the country in 1977—the fight for gay marriage made little headway for many years.
Marriage Equality: Turning the Tide
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, same-sex couples saw the first signs of hope on the marriage front in a long time. In 1989, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that allowed homosexual couples and unmarried heterosexual couples to register for domestic partnerships, which granted hospital visitation rights and other benefits.
Three years later, the District of Columbia similarly passed a new law that allowed same-sex couples to register as domestic partners. Like with San Francisco’s ordinance, D.C.’s domestic partnership status fell far short of full marriage, but it did grant D.C. same-sex couples some important benefits, such as allowing partners to receive health care coverage if their significant other was employed by the D.C. government.
Then, in 1993, the highest court in Hawaii ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage may violate that state constitution’s Equal Protection Clause—the first time a state court has ever inched toward making gay marriage legal.
The Hawaii Supreme Court sent the case—brought by a gay male couple and two lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses in 1990—back for further review to the lower First Circuit Court, which in 1991 originally dismissed the suit.
As the state tried to prove that there was “compelling state interest” in justifying the ban, the case would be tied up in litigation for the next three years.