Same-sex marriage in the United States
|Legal recognition of
† Not yet in effect
Same-sex marriage is legally recognized in some jurisdictions within the United States and by the federal government. As of December 2013[update], fifteen states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington), the District of Columbia, eight counties in New Mexico and eight Native American tribal jurisdictions[n 1] – covering 34% of the US population – issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois signed same-sex marriage legislation on November 20, 2013 that will become effective on June 1, 2014. Oregon recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states, and the issue is being litigated in the New Mexico Supreme Court and in the U.S. district courts for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Southern District of Ohio.
While many jurisdictions have legalized same-sex civil marriage through court rulings, legislative action, and popular vote, 4 states prohibit same-sex civil marriage by statute and 29 prohibit it in their constitutions. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states. Section 3 of DOMA prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages until that provision was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2013, in United States v. Windsor.
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 same-sex civil marriage has grown considerably, and national polls conducted since 2011 show that its legalization is supported by a majority of Americans. On May 9, 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to publicly declare support for the legalization of same-sex civil marriage. On November 6, 2012, Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states to legalize same-sex civil marriage through popular vote.
- 1 Legal issues
- 2 Debate
- 3 Public opinion
- 4 Effects of same-sex marriage
- 5 Case law
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
The legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage in the United States are determined by the nation's federal system of government, in which the status of a person (including marriage) in general is determined by the individual states. 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 were considered for review by the U.S. Supreme Court, which, in its June 26, 2013, decision in Windsor, held Section 3 to be a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
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 have led to court challenges, including Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenged 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.
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.
By December 2013, fifteen state governments (those of Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Delaware, Rhode Island, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Hawaii) along with the District of Columbia, the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Suquamish tribe, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe issue same-sex marriage licenses. On November 20, 2013, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois signed a same-sex marriage bill that will go into effect on June 1, 2014.
All jurisdictions in the Northeast Corridor, except for Pennsylvania, have legalized same-sex marriage. Prior to 2004, same-sex civil marriage was not recognized in any U.S. jurisdiction. It has since been legalized in different jurisdictions through legislation, court ruling, tribal council rulings, and upheld by popular vote in a statewide referendum in three of these states.
Colorado, 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. New Mexico law does not specifically allow nor prohibit same-sex marriage within the state, leaving the recognition or prohibition of same-sex marriage to the discretion of local authorities. As a result, the recognition or prohibition on same-sex marriage in New Mexico varies from county to county.
In 1998, in response to a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling, Hawaii voters approved a state constitutional amendment 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.
Same-sex marriage was first recognized by a United States jurisdiction on November 18, 2003, by a state Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Massachusetts.
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 somewhat unusual compared to other initiatives connected to same-sex marriage, since California had ratified same-sex marriages and Proposition 8 was a response intended to subsequently re-remove the right 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 that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. The decision in that case was upheld at appeal and – as the State of California decided not to appeal or defend Proposition 8 – the voters who initially instigated the initiative appealed to the Supreme Court, which asked to be briefed for arguments concerning the appellants' standing, and heard oral arguments on March 26, 2013. In accordance with numerous precedent cases rejecting the concept of proponents' standing to defend a challenged law in Federal court, the Supreme Court dismissed the case for lack of standing in a decision issued June 26, 2013, after which same-sex marriage once again became legal in California. Proposition 8 supporters have expressed the intent to fight on (for example by asserting the ruling only applies to the persons or counties involved), but this was rejected by California's Attorney General Kamala Harris, who noted that "state officials are obligated to govern marriage equally in all counties and that Walker's ruling specifically covers those officials". Same-sex marriages resumed on June 28, 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. The following year, the state general assembly passed gender-neutral marriage legislation, which the state's Republican governor signed into law. 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 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.
By 2009, New England became the center of an organized push to legalize same-sex marriage, which was achieved in all six states in that region. 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. Nonetheless, 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.
As of January 2010[update], 29 states had constitutional provisions restricting marriage to one man and one woman, while 12 others had statutes that did so. Nineteen states banned any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage. 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.[n 2] 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. A bill that would have legalized same sex marriage in New Jersey was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie on February 17, 2012 before a New Jersey Superior Court ruling led to its legalization in October 2013.
Prior to the November 2012 election, Maryland recognized same-sex marriages formed in other jurisdictions, but did not allow forming such marriages within its 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.
In May 2012, North Carolina voters approved 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. In the 2012 elections, however, state voters for the first time approved same-sex marriage by popular vote, in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Maine's law took effect on December 29, 2012. By law, Maryland started allowing same-sex marriages on January 1, 2013, The Washington legislature had enacted legislation that would institute same-sex marriage in the state in February 2012, but the enactment was stayed pending a voter referendum, which passed. The referendum was certified on December 5, 2012, and the first licenses were distributed on December 9. In the same election, Minnesota became the second state to reject a statewide constitutional ban against same-sex marriage by a popular vote.
Several governments enacted same-sex marriage in 2013. The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians of Michigan voted in March 2013 to legalize same-sex marriages under their tribal jurisdiction, although the state maintained that it would not recognize the marriages. The Rhode Island legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on May 2, which took effect August 1; Delaware enacted legislation on May 7, which took effect July 1; and Minnesota enacted legislation on May 14, which took effect August 1. In July 2013, a court clerk in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with the rationale that the state marriage statutes are unconstitutional, but his action was overruled by a state intermediate appellate court in September and he was ordered to cease issuing the licenses.
New Mexico law does not explicitly allow or prohibit same-sex marriages, leaving the jurisdiction to individual counties. In August 2013, Doña Ana County and Santa Fe County began issuing same-sex marriage licenses, the latter through a court order. Although opponents have filed for an injunction, same-sex marriage has since expanded to a total of eight New Mexico counties. New Jersey began issuing same-sex marriage licenses on October 21, 2013, following a September 27 state superior court decision which found an equal protection guarantee for same-sex couples. Governor Chris Christie originally filed an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court, but withdrew it after the court declined to issue a stay on the lower court's ruling.
On October 30, 2013, the Hawai'i State Senate passed a bill in special session legalizing same sex marriage. Governor Neil Abercrombie requested an amendment to the definition of marriage as a response to popular demand and trends Supreme court rulings recognizing same sex marriages. The bill passed with a vote of 20–4 in favor to expedite the legal process of re-defining marriage in the state constitution On November 8, the Hawaii House of Representatives passed an amended version of the same-sex marriage legislation in a 30-19 vote. Concurring with the House amendments, the Hawaii Senate passed the bill on November 12 with a vote of 19-4 in favor, with 2 excused. Governor Abercrombie signed the bill on November 13. Same-sex marriages will begin in Hawaii on December 2, 2013.
The Illinois General Assembly passed a bill legalizing same sex marriage Tuesday, November 5, 2013. The House of Representatives narrowly passed an amended version of an earlier Senate bill 61–54–2 shortly after 4 p.m. with the Senate approving the House version 32–21 only about an hour later. Governor Pat Quinn who had expressed support for same-sex marriage signed the bill, SB10, into law on November 20, 2013.
November 15, 2013 saw a Pennsylvania same-sex marriage case in U.S. district court survive a motion to dismiss, including a challenge by the defendants who argued Baker v. Nelson as precedent. The judge, finding that "[t]he jurisprudence of equal protection and substantive due process has undergone what can only be characterized as a sea change since 1972," rejected this argument, allowing the case to proceed to trial in early- to mid-2014.
Enactment of marriage laws (table)
Note: This table shows only states that currently perform same-sex marriages or have legalized it. It does not include states that recognize same-sex marriages but do not perform them, or states where policy on same-sex marriage is defined and administered at the local level.
|State or federal district||State population
(US Census estimate 2012)
|Legalization date||Effective date||Legalization method|
|1.||Massachusetts||6,646,144||November 18, 2003||May 17, 2004||Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.|
|2.||California||38,041,430||May 15, 2008||June 16, 2008||California Supreme Court ruling in in re Marriage Cases. Same-sex marriages were permitted for some months until they were suspended upon the passage of Proposition 8 on November 5, 2008.|
|August 4, 2010||June 28, 2013||In Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional on August 4, 2010. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court after an appeal in the 9th Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the official proponents of Proposition 8 lacked standing to appeal in federal court due to a lack of direct injury required by well-established precedential standards. (June 26, 2013) Same-sex marriages resumed on June 28, 2013.|
|3.||Connecticut||3,590,347||October 10, 2008||November 12, 2008||Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, subsequently passed by the Connecticut General Assembly as Public Act 09-13.|
|4.||Iowa||3,074,186||April 3, 2009||April 27, 2009||Iowa Supreme Court ruling in Varnum v. Brien.|
|5.||Vermont||626,011||April 7, 2009||September 1, 2009||Passed by the Vermont General Assembly (overriding Governor Douglas' veto).|
|6.||New Hampshire||1,320,718||June 3, 2009||January 1, 2010||Passed by the New Hampshire General Court.|
|-||District of Columbia||632,323||December 18, 2009||March 9, 2010||Passed by the Council of the District of Columbia.|
|7.||New York||19,570,261||June 24, 2011||July 24, 2011||Passed by the New York State Legislature (Marriage Equality Act).|
|8.||Washington||6,897,012||November 6, 2012||December 6, 2012||Passed by the Washington State Legislature; approved by voters in Referendum 74.|
|9.||Maine||1,329,192||November 6, 2012||December 29, 2012||Approved by voters in Question 1 (2012).|
|10.||Maryland||5,884,563||November 6, 2012||January 1, 2013||Passed by the Maryland General Assembly and upheld by voters in Question 6 referendum.|
|11.||Rhode Island||1,050,292||May 2, 2013||August 1, 2013||Passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly.|
|12.||Delaware||917,092||May 7, 2013||July 1, 2013||Passed by the Delaware General Assembly.|
|13.||Minnesota||5,379,139||May 14, 2013||August 1, 2013||Passed by the Minnesota Legislature.|
|14.||New Jersey||8,864,590||September 27, 2013||October 21, 2013||New Jersey Superior Court ruling in Garden State Equality v. Dow.|
|15.||Hawaii||1,392,313||November 13, 2013||December 2, 2013||Passed by the Hawaii Legislature.|
|16.||Illinois||12,875,255||November 20, 2013||June 1, 2014||Passed by the Illinois General Assembly.|
(37.6% of the U.S. population)
Enactment of other relationship laws (table)
Note: This table shows only states that currently have same-sex relationship laws other than full marriage. Some states that now have same-sex marriage originally had civil unions or domestic partnerships (or still do), but those states are not shown here.
(US Census estimate 2012)
|Legislation date||Effective date||Legislation name|
|1.||Oregon||3,899,353||May 9, 2007||February 4, 2008||Oregon Family Fairness Act (Domestic partnerships)|
|2.||Nevada||2,758,931||May 31, 2009||October 1, 2009||Domestic Partnership Responsibilities Act|
|3.||Wisconsin||5,726,398||June 29, 2009||August 3, 2009||Limited domestic partnerships|
|4.||Colorado||5,187,582||March 21, 2013||May 1, 2013||Colorado Civil Union Act|
(5.6% of the U.S. population)
(43.2% of the U.S. population)
In the United States, federally recognized Native American tribes have the legal right to form their own marriage laws. There are eight tribal jurisdictions that legally recognize same-sex marriage: the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Coquille Tribe, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Santa Ysabel Tribe the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe  and the Suquamish tribe.
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 such as American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Nursing and National Association of Social Workers 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.
A significant number of supporters prefer the term "marriage equality" to "same-sex marriage". Garden State Equality states that the latter implies a separate, and therefore unequal, category of marriage. The 2012 Democratic Party Platform used the term "marriage equality" in its support.
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 largest scale 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 images 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 images to a red equals sign.
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 in natural law-based reasoning. The Southern Baptist Convention adopted a statement in June 2003 that legalizing same-sex relationships would "convey a societal approval of a homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible calls sinful and dangerous both to the individuals involved and to society at large". 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 manner of preventing legalization of same-sex marriage so far has been state constitutional amendments against same-sex marriages.[not in citation given] 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.
In the first half of 2009, it was reported that Barack 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 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 in his inauguration speech on January 21, 2013.
Politicians and media figures
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. Former president George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara have served as witnesses to a same-sex wedding, but neither has publicly stated whether this means they support same-sex marriage in general. In May 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting President to support same-sex marriage. In March 2013, Rob Portman became the first sitting Republican senator to endorse same-sex marriage. After the Supreme Court heard arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor the same month, support for same-sex marriage in the Senate increased. 15 Senators announced their support in the following weeks, including another Republican, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. A majority of the Senate now supports same-sex marriage. In June 2013, Lisa Murkowski became the third Republican senator to endorse same-sex marriage.
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."
As of 2013[update], public support for same-sex marriage in the United States has solidified 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 of same-sex marriage. Polls have shown that support is identical among whites and Hispanics, while support for same-sex marriage trails among blacks. 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. In May 2013, a Gallup poll showed that 53% of Americans would vote for a law legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states. Three previous readings over the course of a year consistently showed support at 50% or above. Gallup noted: "Just three years ago, support for gay marriage was 44%. The current 53% level of support is essentially double the 27% in Gallup's initial measurement on gay marriage, in 1996." Some commentators, however, have noted instances where polling data has overstated voter opposition to referendums banning same-sex marriage; a possible variation of the "Bradley Effect" may account for this, at least partially. One study concluded that "polls on gay marriage ballot initiatives generally under-estimate the opposition to gay marriage by about seven percentage points"; however, this particular study concluded that the Bradley Effect was not the cause of the discrepancy. A poll taken shortly before the failure of Minnesota Amendment 1 showed 52% opposed to the ban, 45% in favor, and 3% undecided. The amendment ended up failing 52.6% to 47.4%.
Effects of same-sex marriage
Economic impact on same-sex couples
In June 2013, the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and required the federal government to treat legally married same-sex couples on an equal basis with heterosexual married couples. Before that ruling, however, same-sex married couples faced a number of severe disadvantages. While some states extended full marriage rights to same-sex couples within their borders, until section 3 of DOMA was struck down none of those legally married couples were recognized by the federal government for any purpose, financial or otherwise.
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 found 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 federal government were ineligible for spousal and survivor Social Security benefits. Badgett's research found that the resulting difference in Social Security income for same-sex couples compared to opposite-sex married couples was US$5,588 per year.
The federal ban on same-sex marriage and benefits through the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) also extended to federal government employee benefits. According to Badgett's work, same-sex couples faced the following other financial disadvantages against which legal marriage at least partially shielded 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 could 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 were not eligible to file jointly as a married couple and thus could not take the advantages of lower tax rates when the individual income of the partners differs significantly (however, in early 2013 the IRS did recognize the community property and income of same-sex partners in community property states)
- Only 18% of companies offered domestic partner health care benefits
- Employer-provided health insurance coverage for a same-sex partner incurred federal income tax, unlike like coverage provided to a heterosexual couple
- Higher health costs associated with lack of insurance and preventative care: 20% of same-sex couples had a member who was 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 of a U.S. citizen to sponsor a same-sex spouse for citizenship, as married heterosexuals automatically could
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.
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. 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.
Based in part on research that has been conducted on the adverse effects of stigmatization of gays and lesbians, 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. 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 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.
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.
Polling in states that have legalized same-sex marriage has shown that a majority of respondents generally agree the legalization of same sex marriage has had no effect on them.
A survey done by Public Policy Polling of 1,539 registered Massachusetts voters in May 2013 found that 60% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had "no impact" on their personal lives, with an additional 25% citing a "positive impact". Only 15% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had a "negative impact" on their personal lives.
A survey done by Public Policy Polling of 668 registered Iowa voters in July 2013 found that 63% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had "no impact" on their personal lives, with an additional 11% citing a "positive impact". The 26% citing a "negative impact" was driven by "very conservative" voters, of whom 70% said the legalization of same-sex marriage had a "negative impact". All other political ideologies agreed the legalization of same-sex marriage has had no impact on their personal lives.
A survey done by Public Policy Polling of 953 registered Maine voters in August 2013 found that 62% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had "no impact" on their personal lives, with an additional 18% citing a "positive impact". Only 20% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had a "negative impact" on their personal lives.
United States case law regarding same-sex marriage:
- Baker v. Nelson, 191 N.W.2d 185 (Minn. 1971) (upholding a Minnesota law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman)
- 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. Ct. 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 (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 (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, 802 N.Y.S.2d 476 (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 (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 (Iowa 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. After the Supreme Court ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal and vacated the stay.
- 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 as Hollingsworth v. Perry, and the Court heard oral arguments on March 26, 2013. On June 26, 2013, the Court ordered the dismissal of the appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for lack of legal standing by the Prop 8 proponents. As a result, on June 28, the Ninth Circuit lifted its stay in the case, and the first same-sex marriages after the Supreme Court's ruling occurred that same day.
- 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 defined marriage for all federal purposes 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)
- 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."
- 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 was had to pay federal estate tax of more than $363,000 on her deceased wife's estate due to the lack of federal recognition of their marriage, which they celebrated in Canada in 2007. Windsor was awarded a refund of the tax plus interest and court costs. Seeking to bypass the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Windsor's attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 27, 2013, and ruled on June 26 that section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional. The United States government began implementing the decision the same week. On July 18, 2013, BLAG, which had defended DOMA, stated in a court filing that in light of Windsor they would no longer defend similar statutes and sought leave to withdraw from McLaughlin v. Panetta, a case involving veterans benefits for a same-sex married couples.
- In Hanna v. Salazar, New Mexico District Judge Sarah Singleton ordered Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or else show why the county should not comply. Salazar released a statement after the August 22, 2013, ruling stating her support for same-sex marriage legalization and advising that the county will not contest Singleton's ruling. Santa Fe County began licensing same-sex marriages the next day. Another state district judge subsequently seconded Singleton's ruling and ordered Bernalillo County to license same-sex marriages less than a week later in the case of Griego v. Oliver.
- In Garden State Equality v. Dow, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled on September 27, 2013, that in the wake of the Windsor ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court, New Jersey's civil unions law violates equal protection guarantees to its citizens, and ordered that the state allow same-sex couples to marry beginning on October 21. The New Jersey Supreme Court subsequently accepted the state's appeal, scheduling oral arguments for January 6–7, 2014, but denying the state's request for a stay of the lower court's ruling, meaning that same-sex marriages would begin on the date ordered by Judge Jacobson. Following the denial of its request for a stay, the state dropped its appeal, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey.
- 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
- Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Coquille, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Santa Ysabel Tribe, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Suquamish
- Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin. See Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States#Attempts to establish same-sex unions via initiative or statewide referendum
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