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Same Sex Marriage

Same Sex Marriage

DEFINING MARRIAGE

New Development: Federal judge rules Michigan same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The decision is pending appeal.

State legislatures have been deeply involved in the public debates about how to define marriage and whether the official recognition of “marriage” should be limited to relationships involving one man and one woman or that same-sex couples should also be entitled to “marriage.”

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CIVIL UNIONS AND DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS

Maine Capitol Six states adopted civil unions available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Two states have adopted broad domestic partnerships that grant nearly all state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples.Three states and D.C. provide limited domestic partnerships that provide some state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples, including same-sex couples.

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SAME SEX MARRIAGE LAWS

The public national discussion around same-sex marriage first began in 1993 when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that laws denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated state constitutional equal protection rights unless the state could show a "compelling reason" for such discrimination. Prior to 1993, seven states had laws that defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.

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STATE LAWS LIMITING MARRIAGE TO OPPOSITE-SEX COUPLES

Young FamilyFollowing the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2013, reinstating the federal district court decision that overturned Proposition 8 in California, 35 states have defined marriage as between a man and a woman in state law.

 

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OVERVIEW | SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

State legislatures have been deeply involved in the public debates about how to define marriage and whether the official recognition of “marriage” should be limited to relationships involving one man and one woman or that same-sex couples should also be entitled to “marriage.” State legislatures have gone both ways in this debate: most states have enacted “defense of marriage” laws limiting marriage to relationships between a man and a woman. More recently, state legislatures and courts have made decisions to allow same sex marriage. Four states have adopted civil unions for same-sex couples that provide the same legal rights as marriage.

NCSL staff track state legislative and judicial decisions on same-sex marriage and provide assistance to legislators on these issues.

 

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