Timeline of civil marriage in the United States
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Many laws in the history of the United States have addressed marriage and the rights of married people. Common themes addressed by these laws include polygamy, interracial marriage, divorce, and same-sex marriage.
- 1830 – Married women are granted the right to own property in their own name, instead of being owned exclusively by the husband, in Mississippi.
- 1848 – Married women are granted the right to own property in their own name in New York.
- 1856 – The platform of the Republican Party refers to polygamy as one of the "twin relics of barbarism" (alongside slavery). At the time, polygamy was a practice of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). (See Mormonism and polygamy.)
- 1862 – The United States Congress enacts the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln, which made bigamy a felony in the territories punishable by $500 or five years in prison.
- 1873 – In Bradwell v. Illinois the Supreme Court rules that a state has the right to exclude a married woman from practicing law. 
- 1874 – Congress passes the Poland Act, which transfers jurisdiction over Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act cases to federal prosecutors and courts in Utah, and removed Latter-day Saints from positions of authority in the Utah justice system. The Act was intended to allow for successful prosecutions of polygamists.
- 1879 – The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Reynolds v. United States.
- 1882 – Congress passes the Edmunds Act, which prohibits not just bigamy, which remained a felony, but also bigamous cohabitation, which was prosecuted as a misdemeanor, and did not require proof an actual marriage ceremony had taken place. The law also allows polygamists to be held indefinitely without a trial.
- 1887 – Congress passes the Edmunds-Tucker Act, which allows prosecutors to force polygamist wives to testify against their husbands, and abolished the right of women in Utah to vote.
- 1890 – LDS Church President Wilford Woodruff issues the 1890 Manifesto, which officially disavowed the practice of polygamy.
- 1900 – All states now grant married women the right to own property in their own name.
- 1904 – LDS Church President Joseph F. Smith issues the 1904 "Second Manifesto",which stated that the church was no longer sanctioning plural (polygamous) marriages and would excommunicate anyone who participates in future polygamy.
- 1907 – All women acquire their husband's nationality upon any marriage occurring after that date.
- 1933 – Married women granted right to citizenship independent of their husbands.
- 1948 – California Supreme Court overturns interracial marriage ban (Perez v. Sharp).
- 1965 – The Supreme Court overturns laws prohibiting married couples from using contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut).
- 1967 – The Supreme Court overturns laws prohibiting interracial couples from marrying (Loving v. Virginia).
- 1969 – The first no-fault divorce law is adopted in California.
- 1971 – The Supreme Court upholds an Alabama law which automatically changes a woman's legal surname to that of her husband upon marriage.
- 1971 – The Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling allowing prohibition of same-sex marriage (Baker v. Nelson).
- 1972 – The Supreme Court overturns laws prohibiting unmarried couples from purchasing contraception (Eisenstadt v. Baird).
- 1973 – Maryland becomes the first state in the U.S. to define marriage as "between a man and a woman" in statute.
- 1975 – Married women allowed to have credit in their own name.
- 1975 – Three states outlaw same-sex marriage by statutes.
- 1976 – The Supreme Court overturns laws prohibiting abortions for married women without the consent of the husband.
- 1993 – All 50 states have revised laws to include marital rape.
- 1994 – 40 of the 50 states amend their marriage statutes to outlaw same-sex marriage.
- 1996 – President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act into law, which outlaws federal recognition of both same-sex marriage and polygamy, and removes any requirement that states recognize such marriages entered into in other jurisdictions.
- 1998 – Hawaii amends its constitution to allow the legislature to ban same-sex marriage, in response to a court ruling which would otherwise have allowed such marriages. Alaska becomes the first state to ban both same-sex marriage and polygamy in its constitution.
- 1998 – South Carolina is the penultimate state in the U.S. to remove the ban on interracial marriage in its state constitution.
- 2000 – Nebraska amends its state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage and polygamy.
- 2000 – Alabama becomes the last state in the US to remove the ban on interracial marriage in its state constitution.
- 2002 – Nevada amends its state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage and polygamy.
- 2004 – Massachusetts grants and recognizes same-sex marriages, while 14 states rush to outlaw same-sex marriage and polygamy through their state constitutions in response.
- 2005 – Texas amends its state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage and polygamy.
- 2006 – 26 states outlaw same-sex marriage and polygamy through their state constitutions. Arizona becomes the first state in the United States to reject a constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriage and polygamy, but passes a constitutional amendment two years later.
- 2006 – 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Nebraska's ban on gay marriage.
- 2008 – New York starts recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, but does not grant such marriages. Connecticut begins granting and recognizing same-sex marriages. California briefly granting and recognizing same-sex marriage until the passage of Proposition 8 later in the year (as well as both the states of Arizona and Florida in banning same-sex marriage and polygamy on the same day in there state constitutions). In California only (prior to Proposition 8) continues recognizing same-sex marriages entered into prior to the proposition's passage. 29 states outlaw same-sex marriage and polygamy through their state constitutions.
- 2009 – Iowa and Vermont grant and recognize same-sex marriages; the District of Columbia starts recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, but does not grant such marriages. Maine repeals the legalization of same-sex marriage before coming into effect by popular vote, which was overturned three years later by another popular vote.
- 2010 – New Hampshire and the District of Columbia begins granting and recognizing same-sex marriages. Maryland starts recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, but does not grant such marriages. In Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a district court overturns California's ban on same-sex marriage (however, the decision is stayed pending an appeal).
- 2011 – New York begins granting and recognizing same-sex marriages.
- 2012 – A federal appeals court upholds the district court decision that struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage (the case is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court).
- 2012 – North Carolina amends its state constitution by a vote to outlaw both same-sex marriage and polygamy, bringing the total to 30 states that have outlawed both same-sex marriage and polygamy through their state constitutions. Rhode Island starts recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, but does not grant such marriages.
- 2012 – Both Washington and Maine begins granting and recognizing same-sex marriages, only after approval from a referendum, while Minnesota rejects a constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriage and polygamy.
- 2013 – Maryland begins granting and recognizing same-sex marriages, only after approval from a referendum.
- 2013 - Legal same-sex marriage beings in Delaware and Minnesota.
- 2013 - The Supreme Court of the United States finds that there is no standing for the appeal of the decision overturning Proposition 8 in California, leading to re-introduction of legal same-sex marriages in that state.
- 2013 - The Supreme Court of the United States overturns the Defense of Marriage Act, which outlaws federal recognition of both same-sex marriage and polygamy. Requiring that the federal government recognize marriages, in states where such unions are legal.
- Burns, Alexander (January 4, 2006). "Coming to Terms With Utah". AmericanHeritage.com. Retrieved March 11, 2011.
- "Official Statement by President Joseph F. Smith", Improvement Era 7:545–546 (Apr. 1904).
- Solidarity.org, A Selective History of Marriage in the United States
- citicen's for equal protection v. bruning 455 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 2006).
- Nagourney, Adam (February 7, 2012). "Court Strikes Down Ban on Gay Marriage in California". The New York Times.