Hawaii and Illinois are the 15th and 16th states, along with the District of Columbia, to allow same-sex marriage.
Hawaii held a special session to consider same-sex marriage legislation. The Senate passed the initial bill on Oct. 30. The House Finance and Judiciary Committees held joint hearings that ran five days—55 hours of testimony—and included more than 1,000 people testifying. On Nov. 8, the House passed the Senate bill with an amendment that strengthened exemptions that allow religious organizations to not provide facilities, goods or services for the marriage or celebration of the marriage if it violates their religious beliefs. The Senate agreed to the amendment and Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the legislation on Nov. 13. It will take effect on Dec. 2.
On Nov. 5, the Illinois House passed SB 10, which had already passed in the Senate. For several months, House leaders had delayed the vote over concerns the bill might not have enough support. Governor Pat Quinn signed the legislation on Nov. 20. Same-sex marriages will be allowed starting June 1, 2014.
States are strongly divided on same-sex marriage. Thirty-three states prohibit same-sex marriage, including 29 states that placed prohibitions in their state constitutions. With Illinois and Hawaii, 16 states along with the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. One state, New Mexico, has no law either allowing or prohibiting same-sex marriage. Most states that have recently allowed same-sex marriage have done so through legislation. Since the beginning of 2011, eight states have passed legislation, one adopted it by initiative and two allow same-sex marriage as a result of court decisions. The scope for continued legislative change is limited. Of the 34 states that do not allow same-sex marriage, 29 have constitutional provisions that require popular votes, usually alongside legislative action. Efforts to overturn constitutional prohibitions have begun in several states, though no state has yet reversed a constitutional prohibition. Litigation has also been initiated in several states, including New Mexico where the State Supreme Court is expected to release a decision in December about whether to require the state to allow same-sex marriages.
Defining Marriage: State Defense of Marriage Laws and Same-Sex Marriage