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Same Sex Marriage Overview

Defining Marriage: State Defense of Marriage Laws and Same-Sex Marriage

9/5/2014

State legislatures and voters have made sweeping changes over the past two decades in laws defining whether marriage is limited to relationships between a man and a woman or is extended to same-sex couples.

States are divided on same-sex marriage.  Thirty-one states and two territories currently have a law or constitutional amendment restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman and prohibit same-sex marriages, while nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.

These contrasting state laws concerning same-sex marriage reflect sharp divergence in the views toward marriage and same-sex marriage across the country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Defense of Marriage Acts and Same-Sex Marriage Laws 

 

Quick facts on key provisions

State law and/or constitutional provision limits marriage to relationships between a man and a woman:

Constitutional provisions: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas1, Colorado1, Florida1, Georgia, Idaho1, Kansas, Kentucky1, Louisiana2, Michigan1, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma1, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee1, Texas1, Utah1, Virginia1, Wisconsin1.

Statutory provisions: Indiana1, West Virginia and Wyoming, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

1Overturned and pending court appeals.

2Upheld by U.S. district judge, pending appeal to U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals


State laws or court decisions that allow same-sex couples to marry (19 states and D.C.)

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.

Current Status of Same-Sex Marriage Laws

Many state laws and constitutional amendments defining marriage between a man and woman are being challenged in court. In some states, courts have ruled that the state ban is unconstitutional and are pending appeal. In most states, cases are still making their way through the court system. The map below shows the states where same-sex marriage is allowed; the states where constitutional bans have been overturned but are awaiting appeal; states where court cases are pending and no decision has been made; and the states and territories that do not allow same-sex marriage and do not have a current court case.

States and Territories that allow same-sex marriage (19 and D.C.)

California

New Hampshire

Connecticut

New Jersey

Delaware

New Mexico

Hawaii

New York

Illinois

Oregon

Iowa

Pennsylvania

Maine

Rhode Island

Maryland

Vermont

Massachusetts

Washington

Minnesota

District of Columbia


 

States and Territories with statutory or constitutional bans against same-sex marriage that have been overturned and are pending appeal

Arkansas

Indiana

Colorado Tennessee

Florida

Texas

Idaho

Utah

Kentucky

Virginia

Michigan

Wisconsin

Oklahoma

 

 
States and Territories with cases pending challenging same-sex marriage bans

Alabama

Nevada

Alaska

North Carolina

Arizona

North Dakota

Georgia

Ohio

Kansas

Puerto Rico

Louisiana

South Carolina

Mississippi

South Dakota

Missouri

West Virginia

Montana

Wyoming

Nebraska

 

 

States and Territories that do not allow same-sex marriage

Guam

American Samoa

Virgin Islands

Mariana Islands

 

Spousal Rights for Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships

In addition to same-sex marriage, some states provide spousal rights for couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships. For more information on civil unions and domestic partnership statutes click HERE. For more information about common law marriage click HERE.

States that allow civil unions and domestic partnerships vary in the amount of state-level spousal rights that are afforded to same-sex couples.

  • Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey grant same sex couples in a civil union the same rights, obligations, and benefits as spouses.
  • Nevada and Oregon grant same sex couples in domestic partnerships the same rights, obligations, and benefits as spouses
  • Washington provides same sex couples in domestic partnerships limited rights to community property and patient visitation. All domestic partnerships in Washington as of June 30, 2014 will be converted to marriages UNLESS one of the parties is 62 years of age or older, in which case the domestic partnership will remain.
  • Hawaii and Wisconsin specifically state in statute that domestic partnerships do not come with the same rights and recognition as marriage.
  • The District of Columbia and Maine allow same-sex marriage and do not have a definition or enumerated rights for domestic partnerships, although, domestic partnerships are referenced in the health insurance codes of those jurisdictions.

Additional Resources

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