What states allow gays & lesbians to marry?
What follows is a list of the states where gay marriage is legal. We provide the year the law went into effect, the name of the law when titled by the state legislature, and a citation where the law can be found. Some states didn’t pass a gay marriage law. Instead a court determined that the existing law prohibiting gay marriage was unconstitutional. In those states, we list the name of the court decision and citation for the case. If you want to read the court’s decision, ask a reference librarian at your public library for help or Google the name of the case.
On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the Fifth Amendment and was therefore unconstitutional (United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ___ (2013). The Act applied to federal employees regarding federal benefits.
California: (2013) Family Code Section 300.
Connecticut: (2008) Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, 957 A.2d 407 (2008).
Delaware: (2013) 13 Delaware Code 101
District of Columbia: (2010) D.C. Law Section 18-110, “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act,” Jackson v. D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, 130 S.Ct. 1279 (2010).
Hawaii: (2013) Section 572-1: Requisites of a Valid Marriage
Illinois: (2013) 750 ILCS 5/212
Iowa: (2009) Iowa Law Section 595.2, Varnum v. Brien, 763 NW2d 862 (2009).
Maine: (2012) 19-A Maine Revised Statutes Annotated 650-A
Maryland: (2012) Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2012, Family Law 2-201
Massachusetts: (2003) Goodrich v. Department of Public Health, 798 NE2d 941 (2003).
Minnesota: (2013) Minnesota Laws Section 517.01
New Hampshire: (2011) Revised Statutes Annotated 457:1-a, “Equal Access to Marriage.”
New Jersey: On September 27, 2013 a trial court judge in New Jersey found that gay marriage was constitutional and that such marriages could begin on October 21, 2013. Opponents asked for a stay pending an appeal of the lower court’s decision. See Garden State Equality v. Dow (Mercer County Superior Court).
New Mexico: (2013) Griego v. Oliver, New Mexico Supreme Court, December 19, 2013.
New York: (2011) Domestic Relations, Section 10-a and 10-b, “Marriage Equality Act.”
Rhode Island: (2013) Domestic Relations, Section 15-1-1
Vermont: (2009) 15 Vermont Statutes Annotated Section 8, “An Act to Protect Religious Freedom and Recognize Equality in Civil Marriage.”
Washington: (2012) Washington Revised Statutes Section 26.04.010 and 26.04.020.
Utah: (2013): Kitchen v. Herbert (U.S. District Court, December 20, 2013); this decision was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court on January 6, 2014 with a nine to zero vote.
It should also be noted that some gay Native-Americans are allowed to marry on tribal lands. It’s entirely up to each sovereign nation to set their own laws for members and on tribal reservations. This includes the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma, the Coquille Tribe in Oregon, and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan.
There are growing number of countries that have legalized gay marriage. This includes France, England, Wales, New Zealand, Uruguay, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, South Africa, Iceland, Portugal, Argentina and Denmark. Countries that have banned gay marriage include Nigeria, Tanzania and Senegal. Homosexuality is illegal in several African nations with prison terms available for offenders.
For more about marriage, see When Can I Get Married?
On May 9, 2012, President Barack Obama stated that he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to get married.
In 2013, Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor officiated at several gay weddings in Washington, D.C.