Same-sex marriage in the United States
|Legal recognition of
|† Not yet in effect|
Same-sex marriage is legally recognized in several jurisdictions within the United States. As of May 2013, twelve states—Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington—as well as the District of Columbia and three Native American tribes—have legalized same-sex marriage. In addition, California, which briefly granted same-sex marriages in 2008, recognizes them on a conditional basis.
While several jurisdictions have legalized same-sex marriage through court rulings, legislative action, and popular vote, six states prohibit same-sex marriage by statute and 30 prohibit it in their constitutions.[not in citation given] The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and allows each state to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. The provision of DOMA forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages has been found unconstitutional in eight federal courts, including two federal appeals courts. Five of these cases are pending review by the Supreme Court.
The movement to obtain marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples in the United States began in the 1970s, but became more prominent in U.S. politics in 1993 when the Hawaii Supreme Court declared the state's prohibition to be unconstitutional in Baehr v. Lewin. During the 21st century, public support for legalizing same-sex marriage has grown considerably, and various national polls conducted since 2011 show that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. On May 9, 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to publicly declare support for the legalization of same-sex marriage. On November 6, 2012, Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.
Legal issues 
Federal law 
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, a marriage was explicitly defined in federal law as a union of one man and one woman.
DOMA was challenged in the federal court system. 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 is unconstitutional under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Since 2010, eight federal courts have found DOMA to be unconstitutional on issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes, and immigration. On October 18, 2012, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals became the first court to hold sexual orientation to be a quasi-suspect classification and applied intermediate scrutiny to strike down Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional in Windsor v. United States. Windsor and four other federal cases are awaiting a response for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to the federal government's Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2004, 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.
Many aspects of marriage law are determined by the states, rather than the federal government. The Defense of Marriage Act does not prevent individual states from defining marriage as they see fit. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Baker v. Nelson, a same-sex marriage case filed in Minnesota, "for want of a substantial federal question." In doing so, the court upheld the state of Minnesota's right to restrict marriage to different-sex couples.
Marriage laws in states that do not permit or recognize same-sex marriage are being challenged in court, including Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges the validity of California's Proposition 8 under the United States Constitution, Sevcik v. Sandoval, which challenges Nevada's system of marriage for different-sex couples and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples under the equal protection clause, and others.
State law 
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.
As of May 2013, twelve state governments (those of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota), along with the District of Columbia, the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Suquamish tribe, and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians have legalized same-sex marriage.[clarification needed] All of the above jurisdictions presently offer same-sex marriage, except for Delaware, with its law going into effect on July 1, 2013, and Minnesota and Rhode Island, with their laws going into effect on August 1, 2013. Same-sex marriage has been legalized through legislation, court ruling, tribal council rulings, and upheld by popular vote in a statewide referendum in three of these states. California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin 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. Same-sex marriage is recognized only at the state level, as the federal Defense of Marriage Act explicitly bars federal recognition of such marriages.
In 1998, Hawaiian voters approved language allowing their legislature to ban same-sex marriage. In 2003, the US Supreme Court struck down Texas' "Homosexual Conduct" law in Lawrence v. Texas. The ruling effectively nullified similar same-sex sodomy laws in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri along with broader sodomy laws in nine other states.
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.
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 has been appealed. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 26, 2013.
On October 10, 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the state's civil unions statute as unconstitutionally discriminatory 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.
In 2009, New England became the center of an organized push to legalize same-sex marriage. By 2013, all six states in that region had granted same-sex couples the legal right to marry. 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.
As of January 2010[update], 29 states had constitutional provisions restricting marriage to one man and one woman, while 12 others had laws that did so. Nineteen states ban any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage.
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 28 out of 30 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 referendum, voters approved such amendments. Arizonans voted down one such amendment in 2006, but approved a different amendment to that effect in 2008. In 2012, Minnesota became the second state to reject an amendment to its state constitution banning same-sex marriage, though Democrats increased their numbers in the legislature in the same election, leading to the May 2013 enactment of same-sex marriage legislation there. In 2009, Maine voters prevented legislation permitting same-sex marriage from going into effect; however, in November 2012 Maine voted in favor of a law allowing same sex couples to marry. A bill that would have legalized same sex marriage in New Jersey was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie on February 17, 2012.
Prior to the November 2012 election, Maryland recognized same-sex marriages formed in other jurisdictions, but did 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 enacted legislation that would institute same-sex marriage in the state, but the enactment was stayed pending a November 2012 voter referendum.
On May 8, 2012, North Carolina voters approved, 61–39%, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage as well as all other types of same-sex unions. North Carolina already prohibited same-sex marriages by statute.
Washington State was the first of these three states to permit same-sex couples to marry. Certification of the referendum on December 5, 2012 allowed licenses to be issued starting the following day. Washington has a mandatory three-day waiting period for all marriages, making December 9 the first day same-sex marriages took place in the state. Maine's law took effect on December 29, 2012. By law, Maryland started allowing same-sex marriages on January 1, 2013,
The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians of Michigan voted in March 2013 to legalize same-sex marriages under their tribal jurisdiction, similar to decisions made by the Suquamish and Coquille tribes. The LTBB tribal council ruling stipulates that at least one member of the couple must belong to the tribe for weddings to occur. The first marriage ceremony took place just a week after the council's vote. The state of Michigan says that, as is the case with same-sex marriages performed in other states, it will not recognize the LTBB's same-sex marriages.
Several states enacted laws in 2013. First Rhode Island legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on May 2, 2013; it will take effect on August 1, 2013. Delaware enacted legislation on May 7, 2013. It will take effect July 1, 2013. The Minnesota House voted 75-59 in favor of same-sex marriage on May 9, 2013, the state Senate voted 37-30 in favor of same-sex marriage on May 13, 2013, and Governor Mark Dayton signed the bill on May 14, 2013, which will go into effect August 1, 2013.
|States with legalized same-sex marriage|
(2012 US Census estimate)
|Legalization date||Effective date|
|1.||Massachusetts||6,646,144||November 18, 2003||May 17, 2004|
|2.||Connecticut||3,590,347||October 10, 2008||November 12, 2008|
|3.||Iowa||3,074,186||April 3, 2009||April 27, 2009|
|4.||Vermont||626,011||April 7, 2009||September 1, 2009|
|5.||New Hampshire||1,320,718||June 3, 2009||January 1, 2010|
|District of Columbia||632,323||December 18, 2009||March 9, 2010|
|6.||New York||19,570,261||June 24, 2011||July 24, 2011|
|7.||Washington||6,897,012||November 6, 2012||December 6, 2012|
|8.||Maine||1,329,192||November 6, 2012||December 29, 2012|
|9.||Maryland||5,884,563||November 6, 2012||January 1, 2013|
|10.||Rhode Island||1,050,292||May 2, 2013||August 1, 2013|
|11.||Delaware||917,092||May 7, 2013||July 1, 2013|
|12.||Minnesota||5,379,139||May 14, 2013||August 1, 2013|
(18.1% of the U.S. population)
Obama administration 
In January 2009, it was reported that Obama opposed a federal mandate for same-sex marriage, and also opposed 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. In December 2010, the White House website stated that the president supported full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. He also stated that his position on same-sex marriage was "evolving" and that he recognized that civil unions from the perspective of same-sex couples was "not enough", before subsequently declaring his full support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2012.
On May 9, 2012, President Barack Obama announced in an interview with ABC News that after wrestling with the subject for many years, he had come to believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. In the same interview, he stated his belief that individual states should have the final say as to whether same-sex marriage is recognized. The announcement made Obama the first United States president to publicly declare his support of same-sex marriage while in office, and marked a departure from his previous stance on the issue. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama had 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." although he remained supportive of the rights of individuals who identified as gay or lesbian. Obama had previously made comments in support of same-sex marriage as early as the 1990s during his campaign for the Illinois Senate. In a 1996 newspaper interview, Obama stated "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."
In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, the campaign of the Democratic presidential ticket (Obama-Biden) continually emphasized the administration's support for marriage equality, making it a key part of the campaign. President Obama was reelected and mentioned LGBT rights and marriage equality both explicitly and implicitly in both his victory speech on November 7, 2012, and, historically, in his inauguration speech on January 21, 2013.
Other politicians and media figures 
During the 2008 presidential election campaign, then-Republican 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."
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." 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."
Commenting on the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker regarding Proposition 8 in California, former Speaker of the House of Representatives 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." Gingrich, whose sister is openly gay, later commented that he could accept civil—but not religious—same-sex marriages, and encouraged the Republican Party to accept the "reality" of same-sex marriage becoming legal.
Then-Speaker of the House 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 an O'Reilly Factor interview in August 2010, when Glenn 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: "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."
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 Adviser 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?"
Opposition groups 
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."
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."
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."
The leading associations of psychological, psychiatric, medical, and social work professionals in the United States have said that claims that the legal recognition of marriage for same–sex couples undermines the institution of marriage and harms children is inconsistent with the scientific evidence which supports the conclusions: that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality that is not chosen; that gay and lesbian people form stable, committed relationships essentially equivalent to heterosexual relationships; that same-sex parents are no less capable than opposite-sex parents to raise children; and that the children of same-sex parents 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 granting benefits unfairly stigmatizes same-sex couples. The research also contradicts the stereotype-based rationales advanced to support passage of DOMA that the Equal Protection Clause was designed to prohibit.
Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former vice presidents Dick Cheney and Al Gore, and current Vice President Joe Biden have voiced their support for legal recognition, as have former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. In May 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting President to support same-sex marriage. After the Supreme Court heard arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor, support for same-sex marriage in the United States Senate increased, with 13 Senators announcing their support in the following weeks. Among those included Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. A majority of the Senate now supports same-sex marriage.
Opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States ground their arguments on parenting concerns, religious concerns, concerns that changes to the definition of marriage would lead to the inclusion of polygamy or incest, and other intellectual ideas expressed in natural law theory. 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 legalization has been state constitutional amendments against same-sex marriages. The funding of the amendment referendum 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.
Supporters of the legalization of same-sex marriage have successfully used social media websites such as Facebook to help achieve that goal. Some have argued that the successful use of social media websites by LGBT groups has played a key role in the defeat of religion-based opposition.
One of the most successful uses of social media to mobilize support for same-sex marriage preceded and coincided with the arrival at the US Supreme Court of high-profile legal cases for Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act in March 2013. The 'red equals sign' project started by the Human Rights Campaign was an electronic campaign primarily based on Facebook which encouraged users to change their profile image to a red equal sign to express support for same-sex marriage. At the time of the court hearings it was estimated that approximately 2.5 million Facebook users changed their profile image to a red equals sign.
Public opinion 
As of 2013, public support for same-sex marriage in the United States has stabilized above 50%. Public support for same-sex marriage has grown at an increasing pace since the 1990s. In 1996, just 25% of Americans supported legalization. Polls have shown that support is identical among whites and non-whites. Polling trends in 2010 and 2011 showed 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 same-sex marriage for the first time in the country. 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." A 2013 poll showed a record high of 58% of the American people supporting legal recognition for same-sex marriage. A poll conducted for Fox News in March 2013 reported the public divided at 49% in favor and 46% opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage, a change from 32% in favor and 58% opposed in 2003.
Effects of same-sex marriage 
Economic impact 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:
- Legal costs associated with obtaining domestic partner documents to gain legal abilities granted automatically by legal marriage, including power of attorney, health care decision-making, and inheritance
- A legal spouse can inherit an unlimited amount from the deceased without incurring an estate tax but a same-sex partner would have to pay the estate tax on the inheritance from her/his partner
- Same-sex couples are not eligible to file jointly as a married couple and thus cannot take the advantages of lower tax rates when the individual income of the partners differs significantly (however, the IRS does recognize the community property and income of same-sex partners in community property states)
- Only 18% of companies offer domestic partner health care benefits
- Taxation of same-sex spouse health insurance benefits when provided by an employer, unlike like benefits provided to a heterosexual couple
- 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
- Inability to protect jointly-owned home from loss due to costs of potential medical catastrophe
- Inability for a U.S. citizen to extend citizenship to same-sex partner
Some 7,400 companies were offering spousal benefits to same-sex couples as of 2008. In states that recognize same-sex marriages, same-sex couples can continue to receive those same benefits only if they marry.
While state laws grant full marriage rights (CT, DE, IA, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, WA) or some or all of the benefits under another name (CA, CO, HI, IL, NJ, NV, OR, WI), these state laws do not extend the benefits of marriage on the Federal level, and most states do not 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.
Mental health 
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. At the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial, he testified 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 said.
Physical health 
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.
Case law 
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 the denial of a marriage license to two women in Kentucky based on dictionary definitions of marriage, despite the fact that state statutes do not restrict marriage to a male-female couple, because "in substance, the relationship proposed ... is not a 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) (the state has a compelling interest in fostering the traditional institution of marriage and prohibiting same-sex marriage)
- 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); overturned in part by Martinez v. County of Monroe (2008) (out-of-state same-sex marriages must be recognized equal to out-of-state opposite-sex marriages because they do not violate public policy)
- 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. Vermont, 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.);
- Strauss v. Horton, 207 P.3d 48 (Cal. 2009). (holding that Proposition 8 was validly adopted, but that marriages contracted before its adoption remain valid)
- 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 was stayed pending appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where it was affirmed, now stayed pending possible appeal to the Supreme Court)
- 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. The case was appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on March 26, 2013.
- Gill v. Office of Personnel Management 699 F.Supp.2d 374 and Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services 698 F.Supp.2d 234 (D.Mass. 2010) challenged Section 3 of DOMA on equal protection, due process, Tenth Amendment, and Spending Clause grounds. Upheld at the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Implementation stayed pending filed appeal to the Supreme Court.
- 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.
- Port v. Cowan, 426 Md. 435, 44 A.3d 970 (2012). (unanimous ruling; valid foreign same-sex marriages recognized in Maryland under doctrine of comity)
- Windsor v. United States (S.D.N.Y. 2012), successfully challenged Section 3 of DOMA on equal protection grounds in the case of a widow who had her deceased wife's estate taxed more than $350,000 by the government, due to the lack of federal recognition. Windsor was awarded approximately $350,000 plus interest and court costs. Instead of waiting for an appeal in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Windsor's attorneys have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review her case. The case was appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on March 27, 2013.
- In Jackson v. Abercrombie, federal District Court judge Alan Kay on August 8, 2012, citing Baker v. Nelson as controlling, rejected the claim by two lesbians that Hawaii's failure to provide for same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. It is the first court decision to cite the "New Family Structure" research of Mark Regnerus, which research has been discredited by the American Sociological Society.
- In Sevcik v. Sandoval, U.S District Court Judge Robert C. Jones ruled on November 29, 2012, against plaintiffs who challenged Nevada's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples. He held that their suit was precluded by Baker, and if it was not, that the discrimination they described merited no more than rational basis review, and that "The protection of the traditional institution of marriage ... is a legitimate state interest."
See also 
- LGBT rights in the United States
- A Union In Wait (documentary)
- Same-sex marriage
- Timeline of same-sex marriage
- Status of same-sex marriage
- Public opinion of same-sex marriage in the United States
- Same-sex marriage under United States tribal jurisdictions
- Minority Stress
- Same-sex unions and military policy#United States
- Timeline of same-sex marriage in the United States
- Same-sex marriage status in the United States by state
- Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States
- Same-sex marriage law in the United States by state
- Same-sex unions in the United States
- Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States
- Defense of Marriage Act
- Marriage Protection Act of 2007
- U.S. state constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions
- Federal Marriage Amendment
- Domestic partnership in the United States
Supporting organizations 
Opposing organizations 
- Coquille, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Suquamish
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- Also see
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