Gay Marriage
Pros and Cons
Video exploring critical thinking and how it leads to great citizen involvement
Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?
Gay Marriage
As of Oct. 21, 2014, gay marriage has been legalized in 32 US states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WI, and WY) and the District of Columbia. 18 states have gay marriage bans through either laws or constitutional amendments or both.

Proponents argue that same-sex couples should have access to the same marriage benefits and public acknowledgment enjoyed by heterosexual couples and that prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional discrimination.

Opponents argue that altering the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman will further weaken a threatened institution and that legalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope that may lead to polygamous and interspecies marriages. Read more...


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Pro & Con Arguments
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Gay Marriage ProCon.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit website that presents research, studies, and pro and con statements on questions related to whether or not same sex marriage should be legalized.
Did You Know?
  1. As of Oct. 21, 2014, gay marriage has been legalized in the following 32 states: Massachusetts (May 17, 2004), Connecticut (Nov. 12, 2008), Iowa (Apr. 24. 2009), Vermont (Sep. 1, 2009), New Hampshire (Jan. 1, 2010), New York (June 24, 2011), Washington (Dec. 9, 2012), Maine (Dec. 29, 2012), Maryland (Jan. 1, 2013), California (June 28, 2013), Delaware (July 1, 2013), Rhode Island (Aug. 1, 2013), Minnesota (Aug. 1, 2013), New Jersey (Oct. 21, 2013), Hawaii (Dec. 2, 2013), New Mexico (Dec. 19, 2013), Oregon (May 19, 2014), Pennsylvania (May 20, 2014), Illinois (June 1, 2014), Indiana (Oct. 6, 2014), Oklahoma (Oct. 6, 2014), Utah (Oct. 6, 2014), Virginia (Oct. 6, 2014), Wisconsin (Oct. 6, 2014), Colorado (Oct. 7, 2014), Nevada (Oct. 9, 2010), West Virginia (Oct. 9, 2014), North Carolina (Oct. 10, 2014), Idaho (Oct. 13, 2014), Alaska (Oct. 17, 2014), Arizona (Oct. 17, 2014), and Wyoming (Oct. 21, 2014). 18 states have gay marriage bans through either laws or constitutional amendments or both. The District of Columbia legalized same-sex marriage on Mar. 3, 2010. [1] [79] [82]

  2. Massachusetts, which became the first state to legalize gay marriage on May 17, 2004, had the lowest divorce rate in the country in 2008. Its divorce rate declined 21% between 2003 and 2008. [2]

  3. The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Dec. 17, 2009 that extending employment benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees would cost the federal government $596 million in mandatory spending and $302 million in discretionary spending between 2010 and 2019. [37]

  4. The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School estimated the positive economic impact of legalizing gay marriage in New Jersey to be $248 million over three years, creating 800 new jobs, and bringing in an additional $19 million in government revenues. [38]

  5. As of Oct. 9, 2014, 16 out of 194 countries allow same-sex couples to marry: the Netherlands (2000), Belgium (2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Argentina (2010), Iceland (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013), Brazil (2013), France (2013), and Luxembourg (2014). Same-sex marriage is legal in some jurisdictions of Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States. [39] [63] [65] [66] [67] [78] [83]
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Pro & Con Arguments: "Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?"
PRO Gay Marriage

  1. Same-sex couples should be allowed to publicly celebrate their commitment in the same way as heterosexual couples. [40] The Human Rights Campaign Foundation states that many same-sex couples "want the right to legally marry [and] honor their relationship in the greatest way our society has to offer..."


  2. Same-sex couples should have access to the same benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. Many benefits are only available to married couples, such as hospital visitation during an illness, taxation and inheritance rights, access to family health coverage, and protection in the event of the relationship ending. [6] An Oct. 2, 2009 analysis by the New York Times estimates that a same-sex couple denied marriage benefits will incur an additional $41,196 to $467,562 in expenses over their lifetime compared to a married heterosexual couple. [7]


  3. The concept of "traditional marriage" being defined as one man and one woman is historically inaccurate. Given the prevalence of modern and ancient examples of family arrangements based on polygamy, communal child-rearing, the use of concubines and mistresses and the commonality of prostitution, heterosexual monogamy can be considered "unnatural” in evolutionary terms. [3]


  4. Marriage is redefined as society's attitudes evolve, and the majority of Americans now support gay marriage. Interracial marriage was illegal in many US states until a 1967 Supreme Court decision. Coverture, where a woman's legal rights and economic identity were subsumed by her husband upon marriage, was commonplace in 19th century America. No-fault divorce has changed the institution of marriage since its introduction in California on Jan. 1, 1970. With a May 2013 Gallup poll showing 53% of Americans supporting gay marriage, it is time for the definition of marriage to evolve once again. [72]


  5. Gay marriage is protected by the Constitution's commitments to liberty and equality. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1974’s Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur that the "freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause.” US District Judge Vaughn Walker wrote on Aug. 4, 2010 that Prop. 8 in California banning gay marriage was "unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses." [41]


  6. Denying same-sex couples the right to marry stigmatizes gay and lesbian families as inferior and sends the message that it is acceptable to discriminate against them. The Massachusetts Supreme Court wrote in an opinion to the state Senate on Feb. 3, 2004 that offering civil unions was not an acceptable alternative to gay marriage because "...it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status." [42]


  7. Gay marriages can bring financial gain to state and local governments. Revenue from gay marriage comes from marriage licenses, higher income taxes (the so-called "marriage penalty"), and decreases in costs for state benefit programs. [4] The Comptroller for New York City found that legalizing gay marriage would bring $142 million to the city’s economy and $184 million to the state’s economy over three years. [43]


  8. Gay marriage would make it easier for same-sex couples to adopt, providing stable homes for children who would otherwise be left in foster care. [68] In the US, 100,000 children are waiting to be adopted. [44] A longitudinal study published in Pediatrics on June 7, 2010 found that children of lesbian mothers were rated higher than children of heterosexual parents in social and academic competence and had fewer social problems. [45] A July 2010 study found that children of gay fathers were "as well-adjusted as those adopted by heterosexual parents." [46] As Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein argues, "We should be begging gay couples to adopt children. We should see this as a great boon that gay marriage could bring to kids who need nothing more than two loving parents." [68]


  9. Marriage provides both physical and psychological health benefits, and banning gay marriage increases rates of psychological disorders. [5] The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and others wrote in a Sep. 2007 amicus brief, "...allowing same-sex couples to marry would give them access to the social support that already facilitates and strengthens heterosexual marriages, with all of the psychological and physical health benefits associated with that support.” [47] A 2010 analysis published in the American Journal of Public Health found that after their states had banned gay marriage, gay, lesbian and bisexual people suffered a 37% increase in mood disorders, a 42% increase in alcohol-use disorders, and a 248% increase in generalized anxiety disorders. [69]


  10. Legalizing gay marriage will not harm heterosexual marriages or "family values," and society will continue to function successfully. A study published on Apr. 13, 2009 in Social Science Quarterly found that "[l]aws permitting same-sex marriage or civil unions have no adverse effect on marriage, divorce, and abortion rates, [or] the percent of children born out of wedlock..." [48] The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association found that more than a century of research has shown "no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies." [8]


  11. Marriage is a secular institution which should not be limited by religious objections to gay marriage. Nancy Cott, PhD, testified in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that "[c]ivil law has always been supreme in defining and regulating marriage" and that religious leaders are accustomed to performing marriages only because the state has given them that authority. [41]


  12. Gay marriage legalization is correlated with lower divorce rates, while gay marriage bans are correlated with higher divorce rates. Massachusetts, which became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2004, had the lowest divorce rate in the country in 2008. Its divorce rate declined 21% between 2003 and 2008. Alaska, which altered its constitution to prohibit gay marriage in 1998, saw a 17.2% increase in its divorce rate. The seven states with the highest divorce rates between 2003 and 2008 all had constitutional prohibitions to gay marriage. [2]


  13. If the reason for marriage is strictly reproduction, infertile couples would not be allowed to marry. Ability or desire to create offspring has never been a qualification for marriage. George Washington, often referred to as "the Father of Our Country,” did not have children with his wife Martha Custis, and neither did four other married US presidents have children with their wives. [9]


  14. Same-sex marriage is a civil right. The 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia confirmed that marriage is "one of the basic civil rights of man," [60] and same-sex marriages should receive the same protections given to interracial marriages by that ruling. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), on May 19, 2012, named same-sex marriage as "one of the key civil rights struggles of our time." [61]
CON Gay Marriage

  1. The institution of marriage has traditionally been defined as between a man and a woman. In the Oct. 15, 1971 decision Baker v. Nelson, the Supreme Court of Minnesota found that "The institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis.” [49]


  2. Allowing gay couples to wed will further weaken the institution of marriage. Traditional marriage is already threatened with high divorce rates (between 40% and 50%) and with 40.6% of babies being born to unmarried mothers in 2008. Allowing same-sex couples to marry would further weaken the institution. [50] [51] As argued by Ryan T. Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at The Heritage Foundation, "In recent decades, marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs... Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships is the culmination of this revisionism, and it would leave emotional intensity as the only thing that sets marriage apart from other bonds." [70]


  3. Gay marriage could potentially lead down a "slippery slope" giving people in polygamous, incestuous, bestial, and other nontraditional relationships the right to marry. [10] Glen Lavy, JD, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, argued in a May 21, 2008 Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, "The movement for polygamy and polyamory is poised to use the successes of same-sex couples as a springboard for further de-institutionalizing marriage." [11] In April 2013, Slate published a plea for legal polygamy by writer Jillian Keenan: "Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less 'correct' than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults." [71]


  4.  People should not have their tax dollars used to support something they believe is wrong. Gay marriage would entitle gay couples to typical marriage benefits including claiming a tax exemption for a spouse, receiving social security payments from a deceased spouse, and coverage by a spouse’s health insurance policy. On Dec. 17, 2009, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost to the federal government of extending employment benefits to same-sex domestic partners of certain federal employees (making no mention of additional costs such as Social Security and inheritance taxes) would be $596 million in mandatory spending and $302 million in discretionary spending between 2010 and 2019. [37]


  5. Gay marriage may lead to more children being raised in same-sex households, which are not an optimum environment because children need both a mother and father. Girls who are raised apart from their fathers are reportedly at higher risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. [52] Children without a mother are deprived of the emotional security and unique advice that mothers provide. An Apr. 2001 study published in American Sociological Review suggesed that children with lesbian or gay parents are more likely to engage in homosexual behavior. [53] In the 1997 book Growing up in a Lesbian Family: Effects on Child Development, Fiona Tasker, PhD, and Susan Golombok, PhD, observed that 25% of sampled young adults raised by lesbian mothers had engaged in a homoerotic relationship, compared to 0% of sampled young adults raised by heterosexual mothers. [13]


  6. Gay marriage will accelerate the assimilation of gays into mainstream heterosexual culture to the detriment of the homosexual community. The gay community has created its own vibrant culture. By reducing the differences in opportunities and experiences between gay and heterosexual people, this unique culture may cease to exist. As M.V. Lee Badgett, PhD summarizes, "marriage means adopting heterosexual forms of family and giving up distinctively gay family forms and perhaps even gay and lesbian culture." [14]


  7. The institution of marriage is sexist and oppressive; it should not be expanded but weakened. Paula Ettelbrick, JD, Professor of Law and Women's Studies, wrote in 1989, "Marriage runs contrary to two of the primary goals of the lesbian and gay movement: the affirmation of gay identity and culture and the validation of many forms of relationships." [15] The leaders of the Gay Liberation Front in New York said in July 1969, "We expose the institution of marriage as one of the most insidious and basic sustainers of the system. The family is the microcosm of oppression.” [16]


  8. Same-sex marriage has undermined the institution of marriage in Scandinavia. Sweden began offering same-sex couples benefits in 1987, followed by Denmark in 1989 and Norway in 1993. According to a Feb. 29, 2004 report by Stanley Kurtz, PhD, from 1990 to 2000, Norway's out-of-wedlock birthrate rose from 39% to 50% and Sweden's rose from 47% to 55%. Unmarried parenthood in Denmark rose 25% during the 1990s, and approximately 60% of first born Danish children have unmarried parents. As Kurtz states, "Marriage is slowly dying in Scandinavia." [17]


  9. Marriage is a privilege, not a right. Society can choose to endorse certain types of sexual arrangements and give support in the form of benefits to these arrangements. Marriage was created to allow society to support heterosexual couples in procreation and society can choose not to give the same benefits to same-sex couples. [18]


  10. Marriage should not be extended to same-sex couples because they cannot produce children together. Allowing gay marriage would only further shift the purpose of marriage from producing and raising children to adult gratification. [19]


  11. Marriage is a religious rite between one man and one woman. According to a July 31, 2003 statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II, marriage "was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman…” [54]


  12. Gay marriage is incompatible with the beliefs, sacred texts, and traditions of many religious groups. The Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church, Islam, United Methodist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, National Association of Evangelicals, and American Baptist Churches USA all oppose same-sex marriage. Expanding marriage to include same-sex couples may lead to churches being forced to marry couples and children being taught in school that same-sex marriage is the same as opposite-sex marriage. [12]


  13. Same-sex marriage is not a civil rights issue, and conflating the issue with interracial marriage is misleading. Matthew D. Staver, JD, Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, explained: "The unifying characteristics of the protected classes within the Civil Rights Act of 1964 include (1) a history of longstanding, widespread discrimination, (2) economic disadvantage, and (3) immutable characteristics... 'Sexual orientation' does not meet any of the three objective criteria shared by the historically protected civil rights categories." [62]
Comment Comment
Background: "Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?"
Same-sex marriage supporters protest the passage of Proposition 8 in front of San Francisco City Hall.
(click to enlarge image)
Same-sex marriage supporters protest the passage of Proposition 8 in front of San Francisco City Hall.
Source: Darryl Bush, www.ap.org, Nov. 15, 2008
As of Oct. 21, 2014, gay marriage has been legalized in 32 US states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WI, and WY) and the District of Columbia. 18 states have gay marriage bans through either laws or constitutional amendments or both. [82]

Proponents argue that same-sex couples should have access to the same marriage benefits and public acknowledgment enjoyed by heterosexual couples and that prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional discrimination.

Opponents argue that altering the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman will further weaken a threatened institution and that legalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope that may lead to polygamous and interspecies marriages.

The gay rights movement in the US can be traced back to the Stonewall Riots that occurred following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City at 3 a.m. on June 28, 1969. Police raids on gay bars were commonplace, but on this occasion the gay and lesbian patrons fought back and sparked days of protests. The Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of a political movement for gay rights during a time when it was illegal to have homosexual sex in all states except for Illinois. [21] Between 1969 and 1974, the number of gay organizations in the country swelled from fewer than 50 to nearly a thousand. [22]

Gay-rights activism in the 1970s focused more on personal liberation and visibility than on gaining access to institutions such as marriage. While some gay activists sought the right to marry in the early 1970s, others rejected marriage as "heterosexist” and saw it as an outdated institution. [23] The gay liberation movement achieved a victory in Dec. 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder and the American Psychological Association did the same in 1975. [24]
Timeline of Same-Sex Marriage Bans and Legalizations by Effective Date of Laws
(Click to enlarge image)
Timeline of Same-Sex Marriage Bans and Legalizations by Effective Date of Laws
Source: "19 States with Legal Gay Marriage and 31 States with Same-Sex Marriage Bans," ProCon.org, May 21, 2014

The increased visibility of the gay community prompted a well publicized backlash by opponents of gay-rights. One high-profile opponent of gay rights was singer and former Miss Oklahoma Anita Bryant who founded the group Save Our Children and campaigned to repeal local ordinances that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. During the 1980s, news of the AIDS epidemic increased homophobia and discrimination but also encouraged the gay community to further organize. Following the news that actor Rock Hudson was dying of AIDS, attitudes towards both AIDS and the gay community started to shift. In 1983, Congressman Gerry Studds (D-MA) became the first openly gay Congressman, followed by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) in 1987. [23]

The current national debate on gay marriage was sparked by the Supreme Court of Hawaii’s 3-1 ruling on May 5, 1993 that the state could not ban same-sex marriages without "a compelling reason” to do so. [55] The case was sent back to a lower court but voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage before the courts settled the issue. Although a gay marriage was never performed in Hawaii, the issue gained national attention and prompted over 40 states over the next decade to pass Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) that defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. [59] On Sep. 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act into law which defined marriage at the federal level as between a man and a woman. The federal DOMA statute ensured that no state would be forced to recognize gay marriages performed in other states and prevented same-sex couples from receiving federal protections and benefits given to married heterosexual couples.


(Click to enlarge image)
US gay marriage laws, state by state
Source: Ned Flaherty, "State-Level Marriage Equality,” www.marriagequality.org, Feb. 16, 2012

On Dec. 20, 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Baker v. Vermont that same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights, protections, and benefits as heterosexual couples. [56] On July 1, 2000, Vermont became the first state in the US to institute civil unions, giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples without calling it marriage.

On June 26, 2003, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws were unconstitutional. In overruling the court’s June 30, 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, the court established a right to sexual privacy and Justice Antonin Scalia predicted in his dissent that the majority decision "leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

On Nov. 18, 2003, Massachusetts highest court ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry. Unlike the 1999 Vermont Supreme Court ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did not provide the legislature the opportunity to offer an alternative to marriage such as civil unions. On May 17, 2004, the first legal gay marriage in the US was performed in Cambridge, MA between Tanya McCloskey, a massage therapist, and Marcia Kadishm, an employment manager at an engineering firm. [26]

Before 2004, four states had banned gay marriages. In 2004, 13 states saw their constitutions amended by referenda to ban gay marriage. Between 2005 and Sep. 15, 2010, 14 more states followed suit, bringing the total number of states with constitutional bans on gay marriage to 30. [59]

On July 14, 2004, an effort in the US Senate to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriagereceived only 48 votes of the necessary 60 votes for the proposal to proceed. On Sep. 30, 2004, the US House of Representatives also rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage by a vote of 227 to 186, 49 votes shy of the necessary two-thirds majority. [27]
Out-of-wedlock births in the Netherlands, 1970-2003
(Click to enlarge image)
Out-of-wedlock births in the Netherlands, 1970-2003
Source: Stanley Kurtz, PhD, "Going Dutch?” www.weeklystandard.com, May 31, 2004


California, with the nation’s largest and most racially diverse gay and lesbian population, has played a prominent role in the modern gay marriage debate. On Feb. 15, 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex-couples. On Mar. 11, 2004 the California Supreme Court ordered a halt to same-sex weddings and voided the marriages on Aug. 12, 2004. In a 4-3 ruling on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned state laws banning gay marriage. [28] Between May 2008 and Nov. 4, 2008, an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples married in CA. [29] On Nov. 4, 2008, 52.3% of California voters approved ballot measure Proposition 8 which made same-sex marriage illegal in the state. On May 26, 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8’s gay marriage ban, but on Aug. 4, 2010, US District Judge Vaughn R. Walker struck down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional [41], and on Feb. 7, 2012, a three-judge panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Walker’s ruling. [73] Following Judge Walker's ruling, many organizations expressed their views on gay marriage.

On Aug. 4, 2010, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints released a statement saying, "Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of society." [33] On Aug. 10, 2010, the American Bar Association's House of Delegates voted to support gay marriage. [31] The following day, the American Psychological Association reiterated its support for     same-sex marriage. [32] In a Sep. 13, 2010 speech, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his opposition to gay marriage, saying the Roman Catholic Church "cannot approve of legal initiatives that imply a re-evaluation of the life of the couple and the family." [34]

From 1988 to 2010, public support for gay marriage increased at a rate of 1 to 1.5 points per year. [35] On Aug. 11, 2010, CNN released the results of the first national poll to show a majority support for gay marriage, with 52% agreeing that "gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid.” [36] A Gallup report released on May 8, 2012 found that national support for same-sex marriage peaked in 2011 at 53%, dropping to 50% in 2012. [66] 

US gay marriage polls, 1988-2010
(Click to enlarge image)
US gay marriage polls, 1988-2010
Source: Nate Silver, "Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage Appears to Shift at Accelerated Pace,” www.fivethirtyeight.com, Aug. 12, 2010

On July 19, 2011, the Obama administration announced that it would support a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This followed President Obama's decision on Feb. 23, 2011 to instruct the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA, the federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and woman, over concerns that it violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. [57] [58]

On May 9, 2012, President Obama became the first sitting US president to declare his support for gay marriage, stating: "At a certain point, I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." [64]


On June 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in United States v. Windsor declared unconstitutional part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage solely as a legal union between a man and a woman. The decision allowed same-sex married couples to receive the same federal benefits granted to heterosexual married couples, including tax breaks and pension rights. [74] [75]

Also on June 26, 2013, and also in a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled in Hollingsworth v. Perry that proponents of California’s Proposition 8 lacked "standing" to defend the anti-gay marriage measure after it had been ruled unconstitutional by a District Court. The decision was considered to clear the way for gay marriage to become legal again in the state. [76] [77]

In 2013 and 2014, following the US Supreme Court's United States v. Windsor decision, gay marriage bans were overturned by court rulings in several states, but those rulings were put on hold pending appeals to the US Supreme Court. On Oct. 6, 2014, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from five of those states, and the decision immediately cleared the way for legal gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Six other states in which gay marriage bans had been overturned, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming, were also affected by the Supreme Court ruling because they were in the jurisdictions of the lower courts that had overturned the gay marriage bans. [81]

As of Oct. 21, 2014, gay marriage has been legalized in the following 32 states: Massachusetts (May 17, 2004), Connecticut (Nov. 12, 2008), Iowa (Apr. 24. 2009), Vermont (Sep. 1, 2009), New Hampshire (Jan. 1, 2010), New York (June 24, 2011), Washington (Dec. 9, 2012), Maine (Dec. 29, 2012), Maryland (Jan. 1, 2013), California (June 28, 2013), Delaware (July 1, 2013), Rhode Island (Aug. 1, 2013), Minnesota (Aug. 1, 2013), New Jersey (Oct. 21, 2013), Hawaii (Dec. 2, 2013), New Mexico (Dec. 19, 2013), Oregon (May 19, 2014), Pennsylvania (May 20, 2014), Illinois (June 1, 2014), Indiana (Oct. 6, 2014), Oklahoma (Oct. 6, 2014), Utah (Oct. 6, 2014), Virginia (Oct. 6, 2014), Wisconsin (Oct. 6, 2014), Colorado (Oct. 7, 2014), Nevada (Oct. 9, 2010), West Virginia (Oct. 9, 2014), North Carolina (Oct. 10, 2014), Idaho (Oct. 13, 2014), Alaska (Oct. 17, 2014), Arizona (Oct. 17, 2014), and Wyoming (Oct. 21, 2014). 18 states have gay marriage bans through either laws or constitutional amendments or both. The District of Columbia legalized same-sex marriage on Mar. 3, 2010. [1] [79] [82]

As of Oct. 9, 2014, 16 out of 194 countries allow same-sex couples to marry: the Netherlands (2000), Belgium (2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Argentina (2010), Iceland (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013), Brazil (2013), France (2013), and Luxembourg (2014). Same-sex marriage is legal in some jurisdictions of Mexico, the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, and Wales), and the United States. [39] [63] [65] [66] [67] [78] [80] [83]

For additional information on the history of gay marriage, visit our same-sex marriage timeline.

Video Gallery


CBSNews discusses the gay marriage debate in California and US District Judge Vaughn R. Walker's Aug. 4, 2010 ruling overturning California's same-sex marriage ban.
Source: "Proposition 8 Overturned," cbsnews.com
, Aug. 4, 2010

Gay marriage opponent Senator John McCain and openly gay talk show host Ellen Degeneres discuss gay marriage and civil unions.
Source: "Ellen Degeneres vs. John McCain: Gay Marriage," youtube.com, May 22, 2008

President Barack Obama endorsing legal same-sex marriage during a May 9, 2012 interview for ABC News with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts.
Source: "Obama Endorses Gay Marriage," thedailybeast.com
, May 9, 2012

The New York Times interviews gay marriage opponent Ryan Anderson, Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, about the US Supreme Court's June 26, 2013 same-sex marriage rulings.
Source: "A Conservative Reacts to the Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Rulings," youtube.com, June 27, 2013


Notices for Gay Marriage and Other ProCon.org Information (archived after 30 days)

10/21/2014 – Gay Marriage Now Legal in 32 US States – In Oct. 2014, following several federal court decisions, same-sex marriage became legal in a majority of US states for the first time ever. 13 states have legalized gay marriage since Oct. 6: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 18 states still have gay marriage bans in place.

10/8/2014 – NEW ProCon.org Website! – Local Elections – Since our presidential election websites helped millions of people decide whom to vote for, many readers have asked ProCon.org to cover local elections. For the first time ever, and in a more limited capacity, we have brought our unique brand of election coverage to local elections starting with Santa Monica, California where we are based. Our 52nd website gathers views from the Santa Monica city council, school board, and college board candidates on important community issues. Click on a candidate, click on an issue, or take the quiz to see which candidate best matches your views. More than 600,000 people took a similar version of our quiz for the 2012 presidential election.

10/6/2014 – US Supreme Court Clears Way for Same-Sex Marriage in Five States, More Expected to Follow – On Oct. 6, 2014, the US Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from five states where same-sex marriage bans had been ruled unconstitutional. The decision allowed Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, bringing the total number of states where gay marriage is legal to 24. Six additional states, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming, were also affected by the decision and are expected to begin issuing marriage licenses in the near future.

Archived Notices (archived after 30 days)


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