Same-sex marriage status in the United States by state
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Same-sex unions have been on the political radar in the United States since the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that denying licenses to same-sex partners violated the Hawaii constitution unless there is a "compelling state interest." In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas paved the way for same-sex marriage to emerge as a hot-button political issue. Since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, other states have redefined their own marriage laws, both for and against same-sex marriage.
This article tracks the status of those laws. It is intended only as a resource for the bottom line current legal status of same-sex unions right now regardless of pending litigation. See same-sex marriage legislation in the United States for the outcome of specific legislation and same-sex marriage law in the United States by state for detailed descriptions.
Marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman in at least 42 states. Currently, 30 states have added defense of marriage amendments to their constitutions. There are five states that recognize or will soon recognize same-sex marriages, and a total of six (plus the District of Columbia) that recognize some form of same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Below is the status of the law in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.
- The Marriage Defined column tells whether that state contains any statutes or constitutional language that defines marriage as between a man and a woman or otherwise bans same-sex marriages.
- The Constitution sub-column gives links to the constitutional amendment story, if existing.
- The Statute leads to the corresponding section of Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States by state to afford full legislation about constitution and statutes. (Under construction, if not afforded, see HRC and Domawatch links below that page).
- The other links (licenses - Civil unions status - domestic partnership status - provides for appropriate page denominations according to marriage - civil unions - domestic partnership and shows the existing pages if the link is active. Civil unions denomination is left in the plural form because it is the rule used for other countries (see Category:Marriage, unions and partnerships by country below )
- The details for the marriage recognition (Recogn.) are to be found with the marriage license link when active. Since constitutional bans are more difficult to overturn, the marriage license and recognition columns have been merged in such cases for relevant states.
- Def. means constitutional definition amendment for the corresponding unions or partnership. When it happens to be the same constitutional definition amendment as the link in the Marriage Defined - Constitution column, the Def. and Status columns have been merged. Otherwise another link is proposed to the other relevant amendment in the Def. column in relevant cases.
- The blue squares show what is allowed and green ones, potential changes in the near future.
- The notes column gives better detail and recent possibilities.
|Alaska||Yes||Yes||Banned||No||None||No||None||Petitions are made to start a ban ballot on civil unions too.|
|Arkansas||Yes||Yes||Banned||Banned||No||None||Prohibits unmarried couples from adopting children|
|California||Yes||Yes (°)||Banned Ban upheld by California Supreme Court.||Conditional||No||None||No||Legal||Main article:|
Same-sex marriage in California
Originally granting only hospital visitation rights, the scope of domestic partnerships was gradually expanded over a three-year period. Taking effect on January 1, 2005, A.B. 205 extended to domestic partnerships virtually all the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage in California. Thus, domestic partnership in California has been effectively transformed into a civil union status.
|Colorado||Yes||Yes||Banned||No||No||Yes||On November 2006 ballot, Colorado banned marriage but rejected a referendum to allow a "civil union"-like domestic partnership, sustained by a constitutional amendment. See also this table|
decision, then by legislation.
|Yes||Expires on 1 October, 2010||Expires on 1 October, 2010||None||None||Main article:|
Same-sex marriage in Connecticut
Connecticut allows full civil marriage licences to same-sex couples. Civil unions expire from 1 October 2010.
|Delaware||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None|
|District of Columbia||No||No||Legal||Yes||No||None||No||Legal*||Main article: Domestic partnership in District of Columbia|
Domestic partnerships were enacted in 1992; implemented from 2002 and then expanded from 2003 to 2009. Marriages from same-sex couples are recognised, but can not be performed.
|No||Legal*||Minimal benefits, available to all adults, including relatives; official terminology is reciprocal beneficiary relationship*.|
Civil Union Bill 2010 has been approved in the 2010 Senate, vote pending in the Hawaii House Committee.
|Illinois||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None but proposed||No||None||Petitions are made to start a ban ballot. Marriage or civil union proposition, heading rather to civil unions.|
|Indiana||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Legislative initiative to start a ban ballot.|
Same-sex marriage in Iowa
In August 2007, Polk County judge ruled Iowa's statutory ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but ruling was quickly stayed and appealed. On appeal, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the Polk County ruling in the case of Varnum v. Brien.
|Maine||No (but proposed by Republicans)||Banned by statute since 1997 and was rejected by the people's veto in 2009.||No (rejected by the people's veto in 2009)||No (rejected by the people's veto in 2009)||No||None||Yes (both opposite sex and same sex)||Legal*||Main article:|
Domestic partnership in Maine
The Maine Domestic Partnership Act came into effect on July 30, 2004.
|Maryland||No||Yes||Not legal*||Not legal||No||None||Few rights, unregistered domestic partnerships provide certain limited legal rights - just like Wisconsin, Hawaii and Colorado.||Legal*||Main article:|
Same-sex marriage in Maryland
"The first state law defining marriage as a union between a man and woman was adopted by Maryland in 1973."
Same-sex marriage in Massachusetts
|Minnesota||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Legislative initiative and petitions are made to start a ban ballot.|
|Nevada||Yes||Yes||Banned||No||No||Yes||Yes||Domestic partnership legislation in Nevada is similar to the Californian/Oregon models.|
|New Hampshire||No||No||Legal||Yes||No||Legal - Expires on midnight 1/1/2011.||No||None||New Hampshire allows full civil marriage licences to same-sex couples, civil unions to expire and convert into marriage from 1 January 2011.|
Same-sex marriage in New Jersey
The state of New Jersey has neither allowed nor recognized marriages between couples of the same-sex. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court, in Lewis v. Harris, required the New Jersey Legislature to change state law by April 24, 2007 to afford same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. A bill now allows civil unions that will supersede domestic partnerships. These are no more applied but may remain for the present ones.
|New Mexico||No||No||None||None||No||None||No||None||Does not contain any public policy explicitly banning same-sex marriage nor defining marriage as between a man and a woman (effectively making the state neutral).|
|New York||No||No||Not legal*||Yes, by governmental entities; see Same sex marriage in New York.||No||None||No||None||Main article:|
Same-sex marriage in New York
|North Carolina||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Legislative initiative to start a ban ballot.|
Same-sex marriage in Oregon
Domestic partnership legislation in Oregon is very similar to the California and Nevada model.
|Pennsylvania||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Petitions are made to start a ban ballot.|
|Rhode Island||No||No||None||Yes||No||None||No||None||Does not contain any public policy explicitly banning same-sex marriage nor defining marriage as between a man and a woman (effectively making the state neutral). Does not award marriage licenses, but does extend limited rights to same-sex couples.. Now this is the basis on which RI will recognize the same-sex couples married in Massachusetts according to the Attorney General.|
|No||None||Vermont allows full civil marriage licences to same-sex couples. Civil unions still recognised before 31 August 2009, but can not be performed after that date - also there is no "conversion into civil marriage" (as CT and NH have done).|
|As domestic partners||No||None||Yes (same-sex only)||Legal||Main article:|
Same-sex marriage in Washington
Same-sex couple who married elsewhere may register their marriage as a domestic partnership. The 2009 reforms called the "all-but-marriage" law will come into effect from December 3, 2009, since it was approved by voters by 53 percent.
|West Virginia||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Petitions are made to start a ban ballot.|
|Wisconsin||Yes||Yes||Banned||Banned||Yes||Yes||Domestic partnerships provide certain limited legal rights - just like Hawaii, Maryland and Colorado.|
|Wyoming||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||State law pre-dates DOMA.|
- Same-sex marriage in the United States
- Public opinion of same-sex marriage in the United States
- Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States
- Same-sex marriage law in the United States by state
- Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States
- Defense of Marriage Act
- Marriage Protection Act of 2007
- Defense of marriage amendment
- List of defense of marriage amendments to U.S. state constitutions by type
- Federal Marriage Amendment
- Domestic partnership in the United States
- Freedom to Marry Coalition
- LGBT rights in the United States
- ^ a b c d Stateline.org 50-state rundown on gay marriage laws Accessed November 4, 2008
- ^ a b c Human Rights Campaign State by State Information Accessed November 14, 2006
- ^ Arkansas Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban (2008)
- ^ http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/05/26/california.same.sex.marriage/index.html
- ^ D.C. Council expands DP law - Washington Blade
- ^ http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/a-68-05.pdf
- ^ "Vermont Legalizes Gay Marriage". WCAX-TV. 2009-04-07. http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=10143110. Retrieved 2009-04-07.