Same-sex marriage in the United States explained
Same-sex marriage in the United States is not recognized by the federal government, but such marriages are recognized by some individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defense of Marriage Act, before Massachusetts became the first state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004. Such licenses are granted by six states: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, plus Washington, D.C. and Oregon's Coquille and Washington state's Suquamish Indian tribes. The states of Washington and Maryland have passed laws to begin granting same-sex marriage licenses during 2012, but each may be delayed or derailed by November 2012 voter referenda. Same-sex marriages could be legally performed in California between June 16, 2008, and November 4, 2008, after which voters passed Proposition 8 prohibiting same-sex marriages. California also recognizes any same-sex marriage from around the world that took place before that end date, while Maryland recognizes all same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.  The legalization of same-sex marriage has been achieved by court rulings and legislative action, but not through voter referendums.   , 12 states prohibit same-sex marriage via statute and 29 via the state's constitution.
The movement to obtain marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples in the United States began in the early 1970s. The issue became more prominent in U.S. politics in 1993 when the Hawaii Supreme Court decided Baehr v. Lewin (holding that the state's ban probably violated the state's Constitution), which prompted the U.S. Congress to pass the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Through the first decade of the 21st century, public support for its legalization grew considerably, and contemporary polls show that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage.   
See also: Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States.
The legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage in the United States are complicated by the nation's federal system of government. Prior to 1996, the federal government did not define marriage; any marriage recognized by a state was recognized by the federal government, even if that marriage was not recognized by one or more other states (as was the case with interracial marriage before 1967 due to anti-miscegenation laws). With the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, however, a marriage was explicitly defined in federal law as a union of one man and one woman. (See .)
DOMA has been under challenge in the federal courts, and on July 8, 2010, Judge Joseph Tauro of the District Court of Massachusetts held that the denial of federal rights and benefits to lawfully married Massachusetts same-sex couples under the DOMA is unconstitutional, under the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution.  This ruling is currently under a stay, but would affect residents residing within the federal district that covers Massachusetts if the stay is lifted. If this decision is appealed and affirmed, the ruling could apply elsewhere in the U.S. For now, no act or agency of the federal government—except within the state of Massachusetts if the stay is lifted—may recognize same-sex marriage.
According to the federal government's Government Accountability Office (GAO), more than 1,138 rights and protections are conferred to U.S. citizens upon marriage by the federal government; areas affected include Social Security benefits, veterans' benefits, health insurance, Medicaid, hospital visitation, estate taxes, retirement savings, pensions, family leave, and immigration law.
However, many aspects of marriage law affecting the day to day lives of inhabitants of the United States are determined by the states, not the federal government, and the Defense of Marriage Act does not prevent individual states from defining marriage as they see fit.
The United States Supreme Court in 1972 dismissed Baker v. Nelson, a case originating in Minnesota, "for want of a substantial federal question". The Defense of Marriage Act, as well as marriage laws in 44 states, could be affected by the outcome of Perry v. Brown, a case challenging the validity of California's Proposition 8 under the United States Constitution.
See also: Same-sex marriage law in the United States by state. Same-sex marriage is recognized only at the state level, as the federal Defense of Marriage Act explicitly bars federal recognition of such marriages.
Six state governments (along with the District of Columbia, the Coquille Indian Tribe, and the Suquamish tribe) have passed laws offering same-sex marriage and currently offer same-sex marriages: New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. In all six states, same-sex marriage has been legalized through legislation or court ruling. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since May 17, 2004; in Connecticut since November 12, 2008; in Iowa since April 27, 2009;  in Vermont since September 1, 2009; New Hampshire since January 1, 2010; and New York since July 24, 2011. In 2009, New England became the center of an organized push to legalize same-sex marriage, with four of the six states in that region granting same-sex couples the legal right to marry.
Out of 28 states where constitutional amendments or initiatives that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman were put on the ballot in a voter referendum, voters in all 28 states voted to approve such amendments. Arizonans voted down one such amendment in 2006, but approved a different amendment to that effect in 2008. In 1998, Hawaiian voters approved language allowing their legislature to ban same-sex marriage. In 2009, Maine voters prevented legislation permitting same-sex marriage from going into effect. 
, 29 states had constitutional provisions restricting marriage to one man and one woman, while 12 others had laws "restricting marriage to one man and one woman." Nineteen states ban any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have worked to prevent individual states from recognizing same-sex unions by attempting to amend the United States Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In 2006, the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote and was debated by the full United States Senate, but was ultimately defeated in both houses of Congress.
The right to marry was first extended to same-sex couples by a United States jurisdiction on November 18, 2003, by a state Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Massachusetts.
On May 15, 2008, the Supreme Court of California issued a decision in which it effectively legalized same-sex marriage in California, holding that California's existing opposite-sex definition of marriage violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.  Same-sex marriage opponents in California placed a state constitutional amendment known as Proposition 8 on the November 2008 ballot for the purpose of restoring an opposite-sex definition of marriage. Proposition 8 was passed on Election Day 2008, as were proposed marriage-limiting amendments in Florida and Arizona. On August 4, 2010, a decision by the U.S. District Court in Perry v. Schwarzenegger ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The decision in that case is currently being appealed and the case is ultimately expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
On October 10, 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the state's civil-unions statute (2005), as unconstitutionally discriminating against same-sex couples, and required the state to recognize same-sex marriages.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in Iowa following the unanimous ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court in Varnum v. Brien on April 3, 2009. This decision was initially scheduled to take effect on April 24, but the date was changed to April 27 for administrative reasons.
On April 7, 2009, Vermont legalized same-sex marriage through legislation. The Governor of Vermont had previously vetoed the measure, but the veto was overridden by the Legislature. Vermont became the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage through legislative means rather than litigation.
On May 6, 2009, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, becoming the first state governor to do so. However, the legislation was stayed pending a vote and never went into effect. It was repealed by referendum in November 2009.
On June 3, 2009, New Hampshire became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.
On December 18, 2009, a same-sex marriage bill was signed into law by the Mayor of the District of Columbia; same-sex marriage licenses became available in Washington, D.C. on March 3, 2010.
California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Washington have created legal unions for same-sex couples that offer varying subsets of the rights and responsibilities of marriage under the laws of those jurisdictions., New Jersey has created legal unions that, while not called marriages, are explicitly defined as offering all the rights and responsibilities of marriage under state (though not federal) law to same-sex couples.
Maryland recognizes same-sex marriages formed in other jurisdictions, but does not allow forming such marriages within their own borders.  New York had been in a similar situation as its courts had held that same-sex marriages conducted in states where they are legal must be recognized by those states, but that the state statutes did not allow the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses, a situation which changed when its legislature legalized granting licenses to same-sex couples in 2011.
On February 13, 2012, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed legislation into law that would institute same-sex marriage in the state, effective June 2012, unless forced to a November 2012 voter referendum.
The laws of New Mexico are largely silent on the subject of same-sex marriage, as they do not specifically allow nor prohibit same-sex marriages or other types of same-sex unions.
President Barack Obama has stated that he supports the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage although at a personal level his beliefs place him in opposition to it; he has recently stated that his current position is "evolving." Obama remains sympathetic to the rights of individuals who identify as gay or lesbian. In a 1996 newspaper interview, Obama stated "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages." However, during the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama stated, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it is a sacred union. You know, God is in the mix." One report indicates that Obama may have made comments in support of same-sex marriage during his Illinois Senate race in the 1990s. The president "supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage," but stated in December 2010 that these civil unions from the perspective of same-sex couples are "not enough." Obama opposes a federal mandate for same-sex marriage, and also opposes the Defense of Marriage Act, stating that individual states should decide the issue.  Obama opposed Proposition 8—-California's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage-—in 2008. He has stated that he continues to personally wrestle with the issue of same-sex marriage.
Many high-profile politicians and commentators have expressed their views on same-sex marriage. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are two of the most prominent conservative commentators based on recent listenership ratings. In an O'Reilly Factor interview in August 2010, when Beck was asked if he "believe(s) that gay marriage is a threat to [this] country in any way", he stated, "No I don't…I believe that Thomas Jefferson said: 'If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket what difference is it to me?'"
On his radio show in August 2010, Rush Limbaugh made the following comments on the then-recent decision by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker regarding Proposition 8 in California: "Marriage? There's a definition of it, for it. It means something. Marriage is a union of a man and woman. It's always been that. If you want to get married and you're a man, marry a woman. Nobody's stopping you. This is about tearing apart an institution." Commenting on the same court decision, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich issued a statement in opposition to same-sex marriage, which read, in part, as follows: "Judge Walker's ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife... Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy." Then-Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi expressed her support for Judge Walker's decision: "I am extremely encouraged by the ruling today, which found that Proposition 8 violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Proposition 8 has taken away individual rights and freedoms, and is a stain upon the California Constitution. We must continue to fight against discriminatory marriage amendments and work toward the day when all American families are treated equally." In 2009, Pelosi described the difficulty in repealing the Defense of Marriage Act: "I would like to get rid of all of it. But the fact is we have to make decisions on what we can pass at a given time. It doesn't mean the other issues are not important. It is a matter of getting the votes and the legislative floor time to do it." Congressman Barney Frank voiced his concern in September 2009 with regard to the ability to obtain sufficient votes to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act: "If we had a chance to pass that, it would be a different story, but I don't think it's a good idea to rekindle that debate when there's no chance of passage in the near term."
During the 2008 presidential election campaign, then-Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin stated: "I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that that's where we would go because I don't support gay marriage."
MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow expressed her frustration with the Obama Administration position on same-sex marriage in August 2010. In response to Senior White House Advisor David Axelrod's statement on President Obama's position: "The president does oppose same-sex marriage but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples in benefits and other issues", Maddow said, "Got that? So the line from the administration is that Barack Obama does not want gay people to be allowed to be married, but when gay people can be married and other people are trying to take away that right like in California, he doesn't want the right to be taken away. But, he's not in favor of that right in the first place. You got it? The president is against gay marriage but he is also against constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage, which means that he'd apparently prefer that gay marriage be banned through flimsier tactical means? That's the president's position. Clear as mud. Ripe for criticism much?"
Advocacy groups have entered the same-sex marriage debate in recent years, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Family Research Council (FRC), which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. NOM lists strategies on its website for supporters to use, including the following statement: "Strong majorities of Americans oppose gay marriage. Supporters of SSM therefore seek to change the subject to just about anything: discrimination, benefits, homosexuality, gay rights, federalism, our sacred constitution. Our goal is simple: Shift the conversation rapidly back to marriage. Don't get sidetracked. Marriage is the issue. Marriage is what we care about. Marriage really matters. It's just common sense." According to its website, the FRC opposes "the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality in law, in the media, and in schools. Attempts to join two men or two women in 'marriage' constitute a radical redefinition and falsification of the institution, and FRC supports state and federal constitutional amendments to prevent such redefinition by courts or legislatures." The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is one of the leading advocacy groups in support of same-sex marriage. According to the HRC's website, "Many same-sex couples want the right to legally marry because they are in love – many, in fact, have spent the last 10, 20 or 50 years with that person – and they want to honor their relationship in the greatest way our society has to offer, by making a public commitment to stand together in good times and bad, through all the joys and challenges family life brings."
See also: List of supporters of same-sex marriage in the United States.
Same-sex marriage supporters make several arguments in support of their position. Gail Mathabane likens prohibitions on same-sex marriage to past U.S. prohibitions on interracial marriage. Fernando Espuelas argues that same-sex marriage should be allowed because same-sex marriage extends a civil right to a minority group. According to an American history scholar Nancy Cott "there really is no comparison, because there is nothing that is like marriage except marriage."
According to the leading associations of psychological, psychiatric, medical, and social work professionals in the United States the claim that legal recognition of marriage for same–sex couples undermines the institution of marriage and harms their children is inconsistent with the scientific evidence which supports the conclusion that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality that is not chosen, that gay and lesbian people form stable, committed relationships that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects, and that same-sex couples are no less fit than heterosexual parents to raise children and their children are no less psychologically healthy and well-adjusted than children of opposite sex parents. The body of research strongly supports the conclusion that discrimination by the federal government between married same-sex couples and married opposite-sex couples in awarding benefits unfairly stigmatizes same-sex couples. The research also contravenes the stereotype-based rationales that were advanced to support passage of DOMA and that the Equal Protection Clause was designed to prohibit.
See also: Opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States.
Opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States ground their arguments on parenting concerns, religious concerns, and concerns that changes to the definition of marriage would lead to the inclusion of polygamy or incest. The Southern Baptist Convention says that extending marriage rights to same-sex couples would undercut the conventional purpose of marriage. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Southern Baptist Convention, and National Organization for Marriage argue that children do best when raised by a mother and father, and that legalizing same-sex marriage is, therefore, contrary to the best interests of children.    Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage has raised concerns about the impact of same-sex marriage upon religious liberty and upon faith-based charities in the United States. Other arguments against same-sex marriage are based upon concerns that the process of redefining the institution would be a Pandora's box. Stanley Kurtz of the Weekly Standard has written that same-sex marriage would eventually lead to the legalization of polygamy and polyamory, or group marriage, in the United States.
The most successful tactic to prevent gay marriage has been to implement constitutional referendums against same-sex marriages. Another has been to reverse or revoke gay marriage after it was granted—as in California (Proposition 8). The funding of such election campaigns has been an issue of great dispute. Both judges  and the IRS have ruled that it is either questionable or illegal for campaign contributions to be shielded by anonymity. In February 2012, the National Organization for Marriage vowed to spend $250,000 in Washington legislative races to defeat the Republican state senators who voted for same-sex marriage.
See main article: Public opinion of same-sex marriage in the United States. Public support for same-sex marriage has grown since the 1990s. In 1996, just 25% of Americans supported legalization. Today, public opinion polls show that Americans are either equally split on the issue or a slim majority are in support. Polling trends in 2010 and 2011 show support for same-sex marriage gaining a majority, although the difference is within the error limit of the analysis. On May 20, 2011, Gallup reported majority support for gay marriage by a margin that exceeded the poll's margin of error. In June 2011, two prominent polling organizations released an analysis of the changing trend in public opinion about same-sex marriage in the United States, concluding that "public support for the freedom to marry has increased, at an accelerating rate, with most polls showing that a majority of Americans now support full marriage rights for all Americans."
Effects of same-sex marriage
Economic impact on same-sex couples
Dr. M. V. Lee Badgett, an economist and associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has studied the impact of same-sex legal marriage on same-sex couples. According to a 1997 General Accounting Office study requested by Rep. Henry Hyde (R), at least 1,049 U.S. federal laws and regulations include reference to marital status. A later 2004 study by the Congressional Budget Office finds 1,138 statutory provisions "in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving 'benefits, rights, and privileges.'" Many of these laws govern property rights, benefits, and taxation. Same-sex couples, whose marriages are not recognized by the state, are ineligible for spousal and survivor Social Security benefits. Badgett's research finds the resulting difference in Social Security income for same-sex couples compared to opposite-sex married couples is US$5,588 per year. The federal ban on same-sex marriage and benefits through the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) extends to federal government employee benefits. According to Badgett's work, same-sex couples face the following other financial challenges against which legal marriage at least partially shields opposite-sex couples:
- Potential loss of couple's home from medical expenses of one partner caring for another gravely ill one
- Costs of supporting two households, travel, or emigration out of the U.S. for an American citizen unable to legally marry a non-U.S. citizen
- Higher cost of purchasing private insurance for partner and children if company is not one of 18% that offer domestic partner benefits
- Higher taxes: unlike a company's contribution to an employee's spouse's health insurance, domestic partner benefits are taxed as additional compensation
- Legal costs associated with obtaining domestic partner documents to gain some of the power of attorney, health care decision-making, and inheritance rights granted through legal marriage
- Higher health costs associated with lack of insurance and preventative care: 20% of same-sex couples have a member who is uninsured compared to 10% of married opposite-sex couples
- Current tax law allows a spouse to inherit an unlimited amount from the deceased without incurring an estate tax but an unmarried partner would have to pay the estate tax on the inheritance from her/his partner
- Same-sex couples are not eligible to file jointly or separately as a married couple and thus cannot take the advantages of lower tax rates when the individual income of the partners differs significantly
While state laws grant full marriage rights (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont) or some or all of the benefits under another name (New Jersey, Washington, California, etc.), these state laws do not extend the benefits of marriage on the Federal level, and most states do not currently recognize same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, or civil unions from other states.
Potential economic disadvantages
While the legal benefits of marriage are numerous, same-sex couples could face the same financial constraints of legal marriage as opposite-sex married couples. Such potential effects include the marriage penalty in taxation (if the federal government were to recognize same-sex marriage). Similarly, while social service providers usually do not count one partner's assets toward the income means test for welfare and disability assistance for the other partner, a legally married couple's joint assets are normally used in calculating whether a married individual qualifies for assistance.
Economic impact on the federal government
The 2004 Congressional Budget Office study, working from an assumption "that about 0.6 percent of adults would enter into same-sex marriages if they had the opportunity" (an assumption in which they admitted "significant uncertainty") estimated that legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States "would improve the budget's bottom line to a small extent: by less than $1 billion in each of the next 10 years". This result reflects an increase in net government revenues (increased income taxes due to marriage penalties more than offsetting decreased tax revenues arising from postponed estate taxes). Marriage recognition would increase the government expenses for Social Security and Federal Employee Health Benefits but that increase would be more than made up for by decreased expenses for Medicaid, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income.
Based in part on empirical research that has been conducted on the adverse effects of stigmatization, numerous prominent social science organizations have issued position statements supporting same-sex marriage and opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; these organizations include the American Psychoanalytic Association and the American Psychological Association.
Several psychological studies   have shown that an increase in exposure to negative conversations and media messages about same-sex marriage creates a harmful environment for the LGBT population that may affect their health and well-being.
One study surveyed more than 1,500 lesbian, gay and bisexual adults across the nation and found that respondents from the 25 states that have outlawed same-sex marriage had the highest reports of "minority stress" — the chronic social stress that results from minority-group stigmatization — as well as general psychological distress. According to the study, the negative campaigning that comes with a ban is directly responsible for the increased stress. Past research has shown that minority stress is linked to health risks such as risky sexual behavior and substance abuse.
Two other studies examined personal reports from LGBT adults and their families living in Memphis, Tennessee, immediately after a successful 2006 ballot campaign banned same-sex marriage. Most respondents reported feeling alienated from their communities, afraid that they would lose custody of their children and that they might become victims of violence. The studies also found that families experienced a kind of secondary minority stress, says Jennifer Arm, a counseling graduate student at the University of Memphis.
Dr. Ilan H. Meyer, Williams Senior Scholar of Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law and expert on minority stress, has found through several empirical studies that gays and lesbians encounter a disproportionate level of stress and mental health difficulties because of discrimination and oppressive laws, and that these stresses amplify the social stigma that makes them more susceptible to depression, suicide and substance abuse. In his testimony during the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial, he stated that the mental health outcomes for gays and lesbians would improve if laws such as Proposition 8 did not exist because "when people are exposed to more stress...they are more likely to get sick..." and that particular situation is consistent with laws that say to gay people "you are not welcome here, your relationships are not valued." Such laws "[have] significant power," he says. 
In 2009, a pair of economists at Emory University tied the passage of state bans on same-sex marriage in the US to an increase in the rates of HIV infection.  The study linked the passage of same-sex marriage ban in a state to an increase in the annual HIV rate within that state of roughly 4 cases per 100,000 population.
A study by the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health found that gay men in Massachusetts visited health clinics significantly less often following the legalization of same-sex marriage in that state.
Timeline of major events
- October 10, 1972: The United States Supreme Court dismisses appeal in Baker v. Nelson "for want of a substantial federal question".
- May 5, 1993: The Supreme Court of Hawaii rules that statute limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is presumed to be unconstitutional unless the state can show that it is (1) justified by compelling state interests and (2) narrowly drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgements of rights under the Hawaii Constitution. The case is sent back to the lower courts for a trial on these two issues.
- September 21, 1996: President Bill Clinton signs into law the Defense of Marriage Act, denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
- December 3, 1996: A Hawaii trial court judge holds that no compelling interests support Hawaii's statute limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. He stays the decision pending review by the Supreme Court of Hawaii. 
- November 3, 1998: Hawaii voters pass a constitutional amendment to give the Hawaii State Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples. Voters in Alaska approve a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- December 9, 1999: In light of the constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court of Hawaii in Baehr v. Miike reverses the decision of the trial court and remands the case with instructions to enter judgment for the state.
- December 20, 1999: The Vermont Supreme Court holds that exclusion of same-sex couples from benefits and protections incident to marriage under state law violated the common-benefits clause of the Vermont Constitution.
- November 2000: Voters in Nebraska approve Nebraska Initiative Measure 416, a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- November 2002: Voters in Nevada approve a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- November 18, 2003: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court gives the state legislature 180 days to enact same-sex marriage.
- February 11, 2004: The Massachusetts General Court (legislature) completes the first step in a process that would ban same-sex marriage. The process is not continued.
- February 12 – March 11, 2004: San Francisco issues same-sex marriage licenses.
- March 3 – April 20, 2004: Several Oregon counties, led by Portland's Multnomah County, issue same-sex marriage licenses.
- May 17, 2004: Same-sex marriage starts in Massachusetts.
- August 12, 2004: The California Supreme Court rules that the San Francisco marriages are void.
- August 3, 2004: Voters in Missouri approve a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- September 18, 2004: Voters in Louisiana approve a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- November 2004: Voters in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah approve state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- April 5, 2005: Voters in Kansas, by a 70% to 30% margin, approve a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- May 12, 2005: Nebraska Initiative Measure 416 overturned by United States District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon as a unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection clause, and a bill of attainder in violation of Article I's Contract Clause.
- September 29, 2005: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes a same-sex marriage bill.
- November 8, 2005: Voters in Texas approve a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- June 6, 2006: Voters in Alabama approve a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, with 81% of voters voting in favor.
- July 6, 2006: The New York Court of Appeals issues its decision in Hernández v. Robles, stating that same-sex partners do not have the right to marry under the New York Constitution.
- July 14, 2006: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rules that Nebraska Initiative Measure 416's limiting marriage to one man and one woman does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection clause, and was not a bill of attainder in violation of Article I's Contract Clause, reversing Judge Joseph F. Bataillon's 2005 decision.
- November 2006: Voters in Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin approve state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. 
- October 12, 2007: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes same-sex marriage bill.
- May 15, 2008: The Supreme Court of California overturns the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
- June 16, 2008: Same-sex marriage starts in California.
- September 10, 2008: HB436, a bill that seeks to "eliminates the exclusion of same gender couples from marriage", is submitted to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
- October 10, 2008: The Supreme Court of Connecticut orders same-sex marriage legalized.
- November 4, 2008: Voters in Arizona, California, and Florida approve state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- November 5, 2008: Proposition 8 takes effect in California, stopping new same-sex marriage licenses from being issued after this date.
- November 12, 2008: Same-sex marriage starts in Connecticut.
- March 26, 2009: HB436 supporting same-sex marriage passes the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
- April 3, 2009: The Iowa Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage.
- April 6, 2009: A same-sex marriage bill is passed by the Vermont General Assembly and then vetoed by the governor.
- April 7, 2009: The Vermont General Assembly overrides the governor's veto of the same-sex marriage bill.
- April 23, 2009: Connecticut governor signs legislation which statutorily legalizes same-sex marriage (see Oct. 10 and Nov. 12, 2008), and also converts any existing civil unions into marriages as of October 1, 2010.
- April 27, 2009: Same-sex marriage starts in Iowa.
- April 29, 2009: HB436 supporting same-sex marriage passes the New Hampshire Senate with minor amendments.
- May 6, 2009: Maine Governor Baldacci signs the Marriage Equality Bill. The New Hampshire House of Representatives concurs with the Senate's amendments to HB436, and the bill supporting same-sex marriage advances to Governor John Lynch.
- May 12, 2009: A same-sex marriage bill passes in the lower house New York Assembly.
- May 26, 2009: The California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8, but also upholds the marriage rights of the 18,000 same-sex couples married while same-sex marriage had been briefly legalized.
- June 3, 2009: The New Hampshire General Court passes new HB73, which includes protections for religious institutions, as required by Gov. John Lynch to secure his signature on HB436, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Gov. Lynch signs both bills the same day.
- September 1, 2009: Same-sex marriage starts in Vermont.
- September 11, 2009: Same-sex marriage was supposed to start on this day in Maine, but is subject to a People's Veto.
- October 2, 2009: A Texas judge rules the state's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional while presiding over the divorce proceedings for two gay Texans married in Massachusetts, clearing the way for both Texas's first same-sex divorce and a legal challenge to the same-sex marriage ban.
- October 11, 2009: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs into law recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriage. 
- November 3, 2009: The same-sex marriage law passed in Maine is repealed through a popular referendum, with 53% in favor of repeal. 
- December 1, 2009: The Council of the District of Columbia passes same-sex marriage bill 11-2 in its first vote. The bill must pass a second vote on December 15 before it can go to Mayor Adrian Fenty for signature. Barring interference by the United States Congress within thirty legislative days after Mayor Fenty signs the bill, DC will allow same-sex marriage.
- December 2, 2009: Same-sex marriage legislation is defeated 38–24 in the New York State Senate.
- December 15, 2009: District of Columbia City Council passes same-sex marriage bill 11-2 in its second vote. The bill was signed by Mayor Fenty on December 18, 2009.
- January 1, 2010: Same-sex marriage starts in New Hampshire and all out-of-state same-sex marriages are given the benefits of marriage under California law, although only those performed before November 5, 2008 are granted the designation "marriage".
- January 7, 2010: The New Jersey Senate voted on a same-sex marriage bill (S-1967) during the waning days of Governor Jon Corzine's administration. The bill failed by a 14-20 vote (21 votes are needed to pass) with three senators abstaining. 
- February 24, 2010: Maryland's attorney general issues an opinion requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
- March 3, 2010: Same-sex marriage starts in Washington, D.C.
- July 8, 2010: Judge Joseph Tauro of the District Court of Massachusetts held in two related cases (Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services) that the denial of federal rights and benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples in Massachusetts under the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional under the Fifth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. 
- August 4, 2010: California's Proposition 8 is overturned by United States District Judge Vaughn R. Walker in Perry v. Schwarzenegger as an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.
- August 31, 2010: The Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas, Texas reverses a 2009 ruling in a same-sex divorce case, ruling that the Texas constitutional ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court further rules that district courts in Texas do not have subject-matter jurisdiction to hear a same-sex divorce case.
- October 12, 2010: The Department of Justice appealed against Tauro's July 8 decision (see above).
- February 23, 2011: The Obama Administration announced its determination that discrimination based on sexual orientation is subject to heightened scrutiny and when judged by that standard is unconstitutional. It will continue to enforce DOMA's provisions, will no longer defend challenges to the constitutionality of section 3 of DOMA in court, and will cooperate with the courts if Congress decides to assert its right to defend DOMA's constitutionality in court.
- February 24, 2011: The Maryland State Senate votes 25–21 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. One week later, the bill is returned to House of Delegates judiciary committee without a final vote.
- March 4, 2011: Speaker of the House John Boehner announced he would exercise Congress's right to defend DOMA's constitutionality in court by convening a bipartisan legal advisory group tasked with "initiating action by the House to defend this law."
- June 24, 2011: The New York State Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage by a vote of 33–29. The bill was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and became law.
- July 24, 2011: Granting of same-sex marriages begins in New York.
- August 1, 2011: Washington state's Native American Suquamish tribe approves granting same-sex marriages.
- February 1, 2012: The Washington State Senate voted 28–21 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. With gubernatorial support and an easy vote in the House, Washington state is expected to legalize same-sex marriage.
- February 7, 2012: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms Judge Walker's decision in Perry overturning Proposition 8.
- February 8, 2012: The Washington House of Representatives voted 55–43 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. Governor Christine Gregoire signed the bill into law five days later.
- February 16–17, 2012: The New Jersey legislature passes a same-sex marriage bill; Governor Chris Christie vetoes the bill.
- February 17, 2012: The Maryland House of Delegates passes a bill 72–67 legalizing same-sex marriage.
- February 22, 2012: Judge Jeffrey White rules the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management. Judge White found that Karen Golinski, an attorney and employee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, saying that her rights had been violated under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution when she was denied spousal benefits.
- February 23, 2012: The Maryland Senate approves the bill legalizing same-sex marriage.
- March 1, 2012: Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signs the bill legalizing same-sex marriage.  Opponents begin to collect signatures to subject it to a referendum on the November 2012 ballot.
- March 21, 2012: The New Hampshire House of Representatives rejects repeal of the state's 2009 same-sex marriage bill in a bipartisan vote of 211-116. 
United States case law regarding same-sex marriage:
- Baker v. Nelson, 191 N.W.2d 185 (Minn. 1971) (upholding a Minnesota law defining marriage)
- Jones v. Hallahan, 501 S.W.2d 588 (Ky. 1973) (upholding a Kentucky law defining marriage)
- Singer v. Hara, 522 P.2d 1187 (Wash. App. 1974) (ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional on the basis of gender discrimination; because the historical definition of marriage is between one man and one woman, same-sex couples are inherently ineligible to marry)
- Adams v. Howerton, 673 F.2d 1036 (9th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 458 U.S. 1111 (affirming that same-sex marriage does not make one a "spouse" under the Immigration and Nationality Act)
- De Santo v. Barnsley, 476 A.2d 952 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984)(same-sex couples cannot undergo divorce proceedings because they cannot enter a common law marriage)
- In re Estate of Cooper, 564 N.Y.S.2d 684 (N.Y. Fam. Ct. 1990)
- Baehr v. Lewin, 852 P.2d 44 (Haw. 1993) (holding that statute limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violates the Hawaii constitution's equal-protection clause unless the state can show that the statute is (1) justified by compelling state interests and (2) narrowly tailored, prompting a state constitutional amendment and the federal Defense of Marriage Act)
- Dean v. District of Columbia, 653 A.2d 307 (D.C. 1995)
- Storrs v. Holcomb, 645 N.Y.S.2d 286 (N.Y. App. Div. 1996) (New York does not recognize or authorize same-sex marriage) (this ruling would later be changed, and New York did recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states before legalizing granting marriage licenses to such couples)
- In re Estate of Hall, 707 N.E.2d 201, 206 (Ill. App. Ct. 1998) (no same-sex marriage will be recognized; petitioner claiming existing same-sex marriage was not in a marriage recognized by law)
- Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194; 744 A.2d 864 (Vt. 1999) (Common Benefits Clause of the state constitution requires that same-sex couples be granted the same legal rights as married persons)
- Rosengarten v. Downes, 806 A.2d 1066 (Conn. Ct. App. 2002) (Vermont civil union cannot be dissolved in Connecticut)
- Burns v. Burns, 560 S.E.2d 47 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002) (recognizing marriage as between one man and one woman)
- Frandsen v. County of Brevard, 828 So. 2d 386 (Fla. 2002) (State constitution will not be construed to recognize same-sex marriage; sex classifications not subject to strict scrutiny under Florida constitution)
- In re Estate of Gardiner, 42 P.3d 120 (Kan. 2002) (a post-op male-to-female transgendered person may not marry a male, because this person is still a male in the eyes of the law, and marriage in Kansas is recognized only between a man and a woman)
- Standhardt v. Superior Court ex rel. County of Maricopa, 77 P.3d 451 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2003) (no state constitution right to same-sex marriage)
- Morrison v. Sadler, 2003 WL 23119998 (Ind. Super. Ct. 2003) (Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act is found valid)
- Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003) (denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated provisions of the state constitution guaranteeing individual liberty and equality, and was not rationally related to a legitimate state interest)
- Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, 455 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 2006) (reversing 368 F. Supp. 2d 980 (D. Neb. 2005)) (Nebraska's Initiative Measure 416 does not violate Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, was not a bill of attainder, and does not violate the First Amendment; "laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples ... do not violate the Constitution of the United States")
- Lewis v. Harris, 908 A.2d 196 (N.J. 2006) (New Jersey is required to extend all rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples, but prohibiting same-sex marriage does not violate the state constitution; legislature given 180 days from October 25, 2006 to amend the marriage laws or create a "parallel structure")
- Andersen v. King County, 138 P.3d 963 (Wash. 2006) (Washington's Defense of Marriage Act does not violate the state constitution)
- Hernandez v. Robles, 855 N.E.2d 1 (N.Y. 2006) (New York State Constitution does not require that marriage be extended to same-sex couples)
- Langan v. St. Vincent's Hospital, 25 A.D.3d 90, 802 N.Y.S.2d 476 (N.Y. App. Div. 2005), review denied, 850 N.E.2d 672 (N.Y. 2006) (denying survivor partner in Vermont officiated Civil Union standing as a "spouse" for purposes of New York's wrongful death statute)
- Conaway v. Deane, 932 A.2d 571 (Md. 2007) (upholding state law defining marriage as between a "man" and a "woman")
- Martinez v. County of Monroe, 850 N.Y.S.2d 740 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008) (The court ruled unanimously that because New York legally recognizes out-of-state marriages of opposite-sex couples, it must do the same for same-sex couples. The county was refused leave to appeal on a technicality.)
- In re Marriage Cases, 183 P.3d 384 (Cal. 2008) (The court ruled that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is invalid under the equal protection clause of the California Constitution, and that full marriage rights, not merely domestic partnership, must be offered to same-sex couples.); overruled by Strauss v. Horton, 207 P.3d 48 (Cal. 2009) (holding that same-sex couples have all the rights of heterosexual couples, except the right to the "designation" of marriage and that such a holding does not violate California's privacy, equal protection, or due process laws) For a review see: Thomas Kupka, Names and Designations in Law, in: The Journal Jurisprudence 6 (2010) 121-130.
- Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862, (Ia. 2009) (Barring same-sex couples from marriage, the court unanimously ruled, violates the equal protection provisions of the Iowa Constitution. Equal protection requires full marriage, rather than civil unions or some other substitute, for same-sex couples)
- Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 704 F. Supp. 2d 921 (N.D. Cal. 2010), (California's Proposition 8 (2008) violates fundamental right to marry under Loving v. Virginia, violates Due Process and Equal Protection Causes of the Fourteenth Amendment, and illegally discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. Proposition 8 is driven only by animus against same-sex couples; therefore, does not survive rational basis review. Permanently enjoins CA from enforcing Prop 8; order stayed pending appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Perry v. Brown, Slip Op. (9th Cir. 2012), Perry v. Schwarzenegger affirmed on the grounds that under Romer v. Evans Proposition 8's withdrawal of the designation of "marriage" from same-sex couples violates the Equal Protection Clause as there is no legitimate government interest to sustain a rational basis review; therefore, it is driven only by animus against gays and lesbians.
- Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, Slip Op. (N.D. Cal. 2012), Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for the purposes of federal statutes, regulations, etc. as being between one man and one woman, was held to violate the Equal Protection Clause. The court ruled that homosexuality is a quasi-suspect classification, meaning DOMA must substantially relate to an important government interest ("intermediate scrutiny"). The court found it could not meet that burden, and also failed rational basis review.
. George Chauncey. 2004. Why Marriage?: The History Shaping Today's Debate over Gay Equality. Basic Books. New York. 0-465-00957-3.
- Murdoch, Joyce and Deb Price (2001). Courting Justice: Gay Men and Lesbians v. the Supreme Court. New York, Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-01513-1.
- Book: Dobson, James C.. James Dobson
. James Dobson. 2004. Marriage Under Fire. Multnomah. Sisters, Or.. 1-59052-431-4. Marriage under Fire: Why We Must Win This War.
. Evan Wolfson. 2004. Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry. Simon & Schuster. New York. 0-7432-6459-2.
Notes and References
- Web site: States. Freedom to Marry. April 16, 2010. June 27, 2010.
- The situation in Rhode Island is uncertain, despite a non-binding opinion by the state's Attorney General. New York Times: Katie Zezima, "Rhode Island Steps Toward Recognizing Same-Sex Marriage," February 22, 2007, accessed July 3, 2011: "Mr. Lynch said his interpretation permitted recognition of the marriages, although he acknowledged that it was just an opinion and did not have the force of law."; Human Rights Campaign: "Rhode Island Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law", accessed July 3, 2011: "This is not a binding opinion and the attorney general noted that this question will most likely be answered by the courts."; Web site: Marriage FAQ. Marriage Equality Rhode Island. July 3, 2011. it is still a complicated issue about whether these marriages will be respected in Rhode Island.. ; GLAD: "Marriage Guide for Rhode Island Same-Sex Couples", p. 8: "legal uncertainty remains in this area", accessed July 3, 2011
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- http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/10/12/feds_appeal_mass_rulings_against_us_marriage_law/ "Feds Appeal Mass Rulings against U.S. Marriage Law
- Department of Justice: Statement of the Attorney General on Litigation Involving the Defense of Marriage Act, February 23, 2011, Retrieved February 26, 2011
- News: Wagner. John. Maryland Senate approves bill on gay marriage, but House passage not ensured. 19 February 2012. The Washington Post. February 24, 2011.
- News: Wagner. John. Maryland House kills same-sex marriage bill for this year. 19 February 2012. The Washingotn Post. March 11, 2011.
- http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/04/boehner-launches-effort-defend-gay-marriage-ban/ Boehner Launches Effort to Defend Gay Marriage Ban
- News: Gay Marriage – In Albany, Wedding Bells Ring Repeatedly. The New York Times. Danny. Hakim. July 24, 2011.
- Web site: Gardner. Steven. Suquamish Tribe approves same-sex marriage. Kitsap Sun. December 20, 2011.
- News: Historic Senate vote clears way for gay marriage in state. The New York Times. Andrew. Garber. February 1, 2011.
- News: Washington Post. February 17, 2012. February 17, 2012. Same-sex marriage bill passes Maryland House of Delegates. John Wagner.
- News: The Advocate. February 22, 2012. Diane Anderson-Minshall. February 22, 2012. Judge Finds DOMA Unconstitutional.
- http://mlis.state.md.us/2012rs/billfile/HB0438.htm House Bill 438 (Bill info)
- News: Linskey. Anne. O'Malley to sign same-sex marriage bill today. 1 March 2012. The Baltimore Sun. March 1, 2012.
- News: AP. Md. Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Gay Marriage. 1 March 2012. ABC News. March 1, 2012.
- News: Politico. March 22, 2012. March 22, 2012. New Hampshire same-sex marriage law upheld. Gary Rayno.
- Web site: N:\Docs\E-DOS\7-14. PDF. December 20, 2011.
- Web site: Louis. Tim. GAY MARRIAGE: Technicality delays county's appeal. Rochestercitynewspaper.com. June 27, 2010.