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Gay Marriage Timeline

History of the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

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May 18, 1970 - Same-Sex Couple Applies for Marriage License

"On May 18, 1970, two University of Minnesota students, Richard John 'Jack' Baker and James Michael McConnell applied to Hennepin County District Court clerk Gerald Nelson for a marriage license. He denied the application, because the applicants both were men.

Baker and McConnell sued Nelson, claiming Minnesota law on marriage made no mention of gender. The trial court was not impressed with the argument, agreeing with Nelson. The state Supreme Court agreed with the lower court. When Baker-McConnell went to the U.S. Supreme Court, the couple was rebuffed again...

Baker v. Nelson has been used in other states as precedent to block efforts at marriage equality."

"Minnesota's Gay Community Purposely Moving Slowly on Gay Marriage Efforts,", Nov. 24, 2008

[Editor’s Note: In 1971, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in one of the Baker-McConnell lawsuits that “the institution of marriage as a union of man and woman uniquely involving the procreating and rearing of children within the family is as old as the book of Genesis.”]

1973 - Maryland Bans Same-Sex Marriage

"Maryland becomes the first state to pass a statute banning marriage between same-sex couples when it includes in its Family Law Code a line reading, 'Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this State.'"

"History and Timeline of the Freedom to Marry in the United States,", Sep. 26, 2012

Nov. 21, 1976 - Non-Church Sanctioned Gay Wedding Makes News

"Back on Nov. 21, 1976, in Northwest Washington, [Wayne] Schwandt and [John] Fortunato walked down the aisle side by side, wearing matching embroidered tunics...

Reporters wrote about what Fortunato and Schwandt called a holy union, which was controversial not because there was talk of legalizing gay marriage but because the two men publicly ask for -- and were denied -- the blessing of the Episcopal Church."

"Inventing a Marriage -- and a Divorce, Gay Pair Who Wed in '70s Recall Journey Uncharted by Law,", Apr. 5, 2004

1983 - 'Spousal' Rights of Same-Sex Couples Becomes an Issue

"Karen Thompson's eight year struggle for legal guardianship of her lover Sharon Kowalski, begins when a drunk driver collides with Sharon's vehicle, placing her in a coma for several months and leaving her quadriplegic and severely brain-damaged. Despite Sharon's wishes to be cared for by Karen, Sharon's parents refused Karen full access or input into her care. Karen Thompson became a key spokesperson for lesbian and gay couples' rights. Karen's case was won in 1991."

"GLINN's Timeline of Gay and Lesbian Family Issues," (accessed Oct. 23, 2008)

Dec. 4, 1984 - Nation's First Domestic Partnership Law Passed

"It took five years of lobbying by a stalwart city employee before the city of Berkeley [CA] enacted the nation's first domestic partnership ordinance in 1984. At the outset only city employees could register, and the program offered only dental insurance coverage and leave benefits to city employees, but within a year Berkeley began including medical insurance benefits as well."

Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions, 2011

Oct. 10, 1987 - First Mass Same-Sex Wedding Ceremony

"On October 10, 1987, nearly 7,000 people witnessed a wedding on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Men and women cheered and threw rice and confetti as family, friends, and community members took part in the largest mass wedding in American history...

But this was no ordinary wedding. And these were not typical brides and grooms. This wedding held special significance for its participants. Beyond the 'mass' nature of the celebration, something else was unique. The newlyweds that fall Saturday paired off as brides and brides, grooms and grooms. 'The Wedding,' as it came to be known, marked the symbolic beginning of nearly 2,000 same-sex marriages."

"The Secret History of Gay Marriage,", Sep. 8, 2013

July 1989 - Court Rulings Define Same-Sex Couples as Families

"The New York State Court of Appeals declares that a lesbian or gay couple living together for a least ten years can be considered a family for purposes of rent control protection, the first time a state's highest court rules that a gay couple can be called a family...

The California Bar Association urges that lesbian and gay marriage be legally recognized and in Seattle, San Francisco and other cities, 'partners' regulations extending certain protections and rights to unmarried couples, straight and gay, are adopted."

"GLINN's Timeline of Gay and Lesbian Family Issues," (accessed Oct. 23, 2008)

1992 - Same-Sex Employees Begin to Receive Domestic Partner Benefits

"Domestic partners of employees of Levi Strauss & Co. are granted full medical benefits."

"The province of Ontario, Canada, extends spousal benefits to same sex partners of government workers."

"William Weld, governor of Massachusetts signs an executive order granting lesbian and gay state workers the same bereavement and family leave rights as heterosexual workers."

"GLINN's Timeline of Gay and Lesbian Family Issues," (accessed Oct. 23, 2008)

May 7, 1993 - Hawaii Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriages

"Hawaii Supreme Court rules the state cannot deny same-sex couples the right to marry unless it finds 'a compelling reason' to do so, and orders the issue back to the state legislature. Hawaii lawmakers pass amendment banning gay marriages."

"Interactive Same-Sex Marriage Timeline,", Feb. 2004

Mar. 1995 - Utah Governor Signs 'Defense of Marriage' Statute into Law

"Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) signs into law the first state Defense of Marriage statute, which stipulates that Utah does not have to recognize out-of-state marriages that violate state public policy."

"Gay Marriage Timeline,", Apr. 1, 2008

Sep. 21, 1996 - Clinton Signs Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

"President Clinton signs Defense of Marriage Act into law. It defines marriage as 'a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife' and defines a spouse as 'a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.' That definition affects 1,049 laws determining eligibility for federal benefits, rights or privileges."

"Interactive Same-Sex Marriage Timeline,", Feb. 2004

May 1997 - Hawaii Becomes the First State to Offer Domestic Partnership Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

"Hawaii becomes the first state to mandate statewide domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples. Called 'Reciprocal Beneficiaries,' these benefits cover less than 60 items (the law seems to be ambiguous on the exact number) and are offered only through certain businesses, some of which complained that the state has no business dictating employee policies. The Hawaii attorney general declared that she would not enforce the requirement for private employers to offer benefits."

"Civil Unions & Domestic Partnership Statutes,", Mar. 28, 2008

Feb. 27, 1998 - Alaska Superior Court Rules on Same-Sex Couples' Right to Marry

"Alaska Superior Court judge rules that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry but stays the decision pending appeals to the state Supreme Court."

"Gay Marriage Timeline,", Apr. 1, 2008

Nov. 3, 1998 - Hawaii Voters Approve Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

"Just as Hawaii's high court seemed poised to allow same-sex marriages, gay activists have seen their visions of legal weddings on the beaches of Maui disappear as voters approved Constitutional Amendment 2, giving the legislature power to 'reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.'"

"Hawaii Gives Legislature Power to Ban Same-Sex Marriage,", Nov. 3, 1998

Nov. 3, 1998 - Alaska Voters Approve Constitutional Amendment Limiting Marriage

"Voters in Alaska overwhelmingly approved a same-sex marriage ballot initiative Tuesday. Alaska's measure goes one step beyond Hawaii's measure, by amending the constitution to limit marriage to 'exist only between one man and one woman.'"

"Hawaii Gives Legislature Power to Ban Same-Sex Marriage,", Nov. 3, 1998

Dec. 20, 1999 - Vermont Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Couples Benefits and Protections

"We hold that the state is constitutionally required to extend to same-sex couples the common benefits and protections that flow from marriage under Vermont law...

Whether this ultimately takes the form of inclusion within the marriage laws themselves or a parallel 'domestic partnership' system or some equivalent statutory alternative, rests with the Legislature...

Whatever system is chosen, however, must conform with the constitutional imperative to afford all Vermonters the common benefit, protection, and security of the law..."

"Vermont's Top Court Backs Rights for Same-Sex Couples,", Dec. 21, 1999


Mar. 30, 2000 - US Rabbis Approve Gay Partnership

"Rabbis belonging to the biggest and most liberal branch of Judaism in the United States have voted to recognise the partnerships of gay and lesbian couples.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, which is part of the Jewish Reform movement, has agreed to sanction religious ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The President of the Conference, Rabbi Charles Kroloff, said that gay and lesbian people deserved the recognition and respect due to people created in the image of God."

"US Rabbis Approve Gay Partnership,", Mar. 30, 2000

Apr. 26, 2000 - Vermont Civil Union Bill Becomes Law

"Vermont’s governor signed landmark legislation yesterday making the state the first in the country to grant the full benefits of marriage to same-sex couples."

"Vermont Civil Union Bill Becomes Law,", Apr. 27, 2000

Nov. 7, 2000 - Nebraska Voters Approve Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

"Nebraska voters approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage."

"Gay Marriage Timeline,", Apr. 1, 2008

Apr. 1, 2001 - Netherlands Becomes World's First Country to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

"A Dutch law now allows same sex marriages, and today four couples became the world's first homosexuals to legally wed...

Holland, long among the gay rights vanguard, enacted a bill last year converting the countries registered same-sex partnerships into full-fledged marriages.

Same-sex couples now have the same legal status as heterosexuals. They can divorce legally, claim pensions and other benefits, and adopt Dutch children. The couples are barred from adopting children overseas because of potential objections from countries that do not accept gay marriages.

Under the new legislation, all references to gender in laws governing matrimony and adoption will be deleted in favor of the neutral-gender term, partner."

"Same-Sex Marriage Legalized in Amsterdam,", Apr. 1, 2001

Nov. 7, 2002 - Nevada Voters Approve Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

"Nevada voters give final approval to a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Voters first approved the ban in 2000, but state law requires a majority vote in two consecutive election years to amend the constitution."

"Gay Marriage Timeline,", Apr. 1, 2008

May 21, 2003 - Federal Constitutional Marriage Amendment Introduced

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) introduced a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States (Bill #H.J. Res. 56), which declared: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."

May 2003, US Library of Congress Federal Marriage Amendment - H.J. Res 56

June 26, 2003 - US Supreme Court Strikes Down Sodomy Laws

"U.S. Supreme Court [in a 6-3 decision] strikes down Texas sodomy state law banning private consensual sex between adults of the same sex. The court found that law and others like it violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. But legal analysts said the ruling enshrines for the first time a broad constitutional right to sexual privacy."

"Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Sodomy Law,", Nov. 18, 2003

July 31, 2003 - Vatican Begins Campaign Against Same-Sex Marriage

"The Vatican has launched a global campaign against gay marriages, warning Catholic politicians that support of same-sex unions is 'gravely immoral.' The Vatican issued a 12-page set of guidelines with the approval of Pope John Paul II in a bid to stem the increase in laws granting legal rights to homosexual unions in Europe and North America.

'Marriage exists solely between a man and woman... Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law,' the 12-page document by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said Thursday [July 31, 2003]."

"Vatican Fights Gay Marriages,", July 31, 2003

Aug. 1, 2003 - Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Unions Gathers Sponsors

"Before the ruling [Supreme Court ruling that laws making gay sex a crime were unconstitutional], supporters in the House [US House of Representatives] of a constitutional amendment that would more formally restrict marriage to the union of a man and a woman were having trouble attracting sponsors. After the ruling, the number of co-sponsors has nearly quadrupled to 75."

Elizabeth Shogren, "Foes of Gay Marriage Find New Momentum,", Aug. 1, 2003

Aug. 18, 2003 - Poll Shows Majority of Americans Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage

"More than half of Americans favor a law barring gay marriage and specifying wedlock be between a man and a woman, an Associated Press poll found. The survey also found presidential candidates could face a backlash if they support gay marriage or civil unions."

"Many Favor Law Barring Gay Marriage,", Aug. 18, 2003

Sep. 19, 2003 - California Passes Domestic Partnership Law

"On Friday, September 19, 2003, Governor Davis signed AB 205, The Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, at the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] Center in San Francisco. This historic legislation, authored by Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles) and sponsored by EQCA [Equality California], provides domestic partners with almost all of the same rights and responsibilities as spouses in a civil marriage."

"Issues: Economics of Same-Sex Marriage - California," (accessed Oct. 27, 2008)

Oct. 28, 2003 - US President Bush Announces He Wants Marriage Reserved for Heterosexuals

"Bush said it is 'important for society to welcome each individual...

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or another,' Bush told reporters at a White House news conference. 'And we've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that.'"

"Bush Wants Marriage Reserved for Heterosexuals,", Oct. 28, 2003

Nov. 18, 2003 - State Supreme Court Decision Makes Massachusetts First US State to Legalize Gay Marriage

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in a 4-3 ruling held that "barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution...

'Marriage is a vital social institution,' wrote Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall for the majority Justices. 'The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society.'"

Hillary Goodridge & others vs. Department of Public Health & another, SJC-08860, Nov. 18, 2003

Feb. 12, 2004 - City of San Francisco Begins Marrying Same-Sex Couples

"In an open challenge to California law, city authorities performed at least 15 same-sex weddings Thursday [Feb. 12, 2004] and issued about a dozen more marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples."

"San Francisco Weds Gay Couples,", Feb. 12, 2004

Feb. 20, 2004 - New Mexico County Begins Issuing Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples

"A county clerk issued marriage licenses Friday to at least 15 gay couples, some of whom then exchanged vows outside the courthouse, as more same-sex couples lined up for a chance to tie the knot...

New Mexico law defines marriage as a contract between contracting parties but does not mention gender."

"Gay Couples Marry in New Mexico,", Feb. 20, 2004

Feb. 20, 2004 - Cambodian King Backs Gay Marriage

"The king [Norodom Sihanouk] said that as a 'liberal democracy', Cambodia should allow 'marriage between man and man... or between woman and woman.' He said he had respect for homosexual and lesbians and said they were as they were because God loved a 'wide range of tastes.'"

"Cambodian King Backs Gay Marriage,", Feb. 20. 2004

Feb. 24, 2004 - President Bush Announces Support for Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

"President Bush backed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage Tuesday [Feb. 24, 2004], saying he wants to stop activist judges from changing the definition of the 'most enduring human institution.' Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural and moral roots, Bush said, urging Congress to approve such an amendment.

'After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization,' the president said. 'Their action has created confusion on an issue that requires clarity.'"

"The Bush Presidency,", Feb. 24, 2004

Feb. 27, 2004 - New York Town of New Paltz Begins Marrying Same-Sex Couples

"The same-sex marriage controversy moved to a tiny Hudson River village, where the mayor of New Paltz, New York, began performing same-sex marriages Friday [Feb. 27, 2004]. Mayor Jason West said he considers it his 'moral obligation' to issue marriage licenses to gay couples."

Jonathan Wald, "New York Town's Mayor Marries Same-Sex Couples,", Feb. 28, 2004

Mar. 3, 2004 - Gay Couples Wed in Portland, Oregon

"County officials began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Portland [Oregon] Wednesday [Mar. 3, 2004], joining the rapidly spreading national movement that has moved from San Francisco to upstate New York."

"Gay Marriage Licenses Issued in Oregon,", Mar. 3, 2004

Mar. 8, 2004 - California State Assemblywoman Marries

"This city [San Francisco] once again saw the melding of the personal and political Monday [Mar. 8, 2004] when state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) presided over the marriages of six couples who have long been active in the gay and lesbian community, including Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg. In back-to-back ceremonies on the steps of the City Hall rotunda, Kuehl, California's first openly gay state legislator, pronounced her close friends and political colleagues married to tears and shouts of jubilation."

Lee Romney, "Goldberg and Partner Marry in San Francisco,", Mar. 9, 2004

Mar. 10, 2004 - Washington Post/ABC Poll Shows Support for Same-Sex Marriage Grows

"About half the country -- 51 percent -- favors allowing gay couples to form civil unions with the same basic legal rights as married couples, up 6 percentage points in less than a month. A slightly larger majority also rejected amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriages in favor of allowing states to make their own laws, an increase of 8 percentage points in recent weeks."

"Poll Finds Growing Support for Gay Civil Unions,", Mar. 10, 2004

Mar. 11, 2004 - California Supreme Court Orders Halt to San Francisco Same-Sex Weddings

"The California Supreme Court today [Mar. 11, 2004] ordered San Francisco officials to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the court can hold a hearing on gay marriages. The hearing would be held later this spring... A Superior Court hearing has been scheduled for Mar. 29. If the state Supreme Court does not intervene, a final resolution to the legal challenges could take at least a year. If the case is permitted to go to trial, San Francisco officials said in their brief, the city will present evidence that 'relegating same-sex relationships to inferior, second-class status severely stigmatizes gay men, lesbians and their families.'"

"Court Orders San Francisco Officials to Halt Gay Marriages,", Mar. 11, 2004

Mar. 15, 2004 - Spousal Benefits for Gays at the United Nations Challenged

"A bloc of more than 50 Islamic states, backed by the Vatican, sought today to halt U.N. efforts to extend spousal benefits to partners of some gay employees. The initiative came less than two months after U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan moved to award benefits to partners of gay employees who come from countries where such benefits are provided, such as Belgium and the Netherlands...

The United Nations has recognized polygamy, a common practice in the Islamic world, as a legitimate form of marriage and permits employees to divide their benefits among more than one wife. But the decision to expand that right to same-sex partners has fueled intense opposition...

The European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand defended Annan's decision on benefits for U.N. staffers. 'The European Union is satisfied with this practice and we see no reason why the secretary general's prerogative in this area should now be contested,' said Ireland's envoy, Margaret Stanley, speaking on behalf of the EU.

But conservative critics said the secretary general's decision represents an unwelcome assault on conservative values, and they vowed to take the fight to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva in the coming weeks. 'I have no doubt there will be very strong opposition from Islamic countries, from some Latin Americans and the Vatican,' said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, which has worked closely with the Vatican at the United Nations."

"UN Spousal Benefits for Gays in Dispute,", Mar. 16, 2004

Mar. 16, 2004 - New York Times/CBS Poll Shows 59% Support Constitutional Amendment Restricting Marriage to 'a Man and a Woman'

"By 59 percent to 35 percent, respondents said they supported a constitutional amendment that would 'allow marriage only between a man and a woman.' But 56 percent said that they did not view the issue as important enough to merit changing the nation's constitution."

"The 2004 Campaign: The Poll; Nation's Direction Prompts Voters' Concern, Poll Finds,", Mar. 16, 2004

Mar. 23, 2004 - Oregon County Bans All Marriage

"In a new twist in the battle over same-sex marriage roiling the United States, a county in Oregon has banned all marriages -- gay and heterosexual -- until the state decides who can and who cannot wed.

The last marriage licenses were handed out in Benton County at 4 p.m. local time Tuesday [Mar. 23, 2004]. As of Wednesday, officials in the county of 79,000 people will begin telling couples applying for licenses to go elsewhere until the gay marriage debate is settled. 'It may seem odd,' Benton County Commissioner Linda Modrell told Reuters in a telephone interview, but 'we need to treat everyone in our county equally.'

State Attorney General Hardy Myers said in a statement that he was 'very pleased' with Benton County's decision. 'It is my sincere hope that the legal process will provide clarity for each of Oregon's counties.'"

"Gay-Marriage Debate in Missouri Sparks ‘Inflammatory’ Comments,", Mar. 24, 2004

Mar. 30, 2004 - Conservatives Testify against Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

"Several high-profile conservative Americans testified at a Congressional hearing today [Mar. 30, 2004] in opposition to changing the U.S. Constitution. At today's House Judiciary subcommittee hearing around a constitutional amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples, former Congressman Bob Barr and Wyoming State Sen. John Hanes -- both Republicans -- rejected tampering with the Constitution... 

'If we begin to treat the Constitution as our personal sandbox, in which to build and destroy castles as we please, we risk diluting the grandeur of having a Constitution in the first place,' said former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., who penned the Defense of Marriage Act.

Sen. Hanes added: 'Our goal as conservatives should be to avoid creating needless division, and instead let the people build their communities without federal interference.'", Mar. 30, 2004

Mar. 31, 2004 - UK Grants 'Joint Rights' to Same-Sex Couples

"Gay and lesbian couples are to be given the chance to get similar legal rights to married couples under a new Civil Partnership Bill. The measures, unveiled on Wednesday, allows legal recognition for gay couples for the first time. The Bill gives the legal rights to same-sex couples who register their partnership at a civil ceremony.

Gay couples would not have to live together for a certain length of time to be eligible for the rights and if the partnership breaks up, there would be a formal court process for dissolving it."

"Gay Couples to Get Joint Rights,", Mar. 31, 2004

Apr. 20, 2004 - Oregon Same-Sex Marriages Ordered Halted

"A judge on Tuesday ordered Multnomah County to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. The action effectively ends gay marriage nationally, because the county was the only jurisdiction in the country known to currently allow same-sex weddings."

"Oregon Same-Sex Marriages Ordered Halted,", Apr. 20, 2004

May 17, 2004 - First Legal Gay Marriage in the United States

"CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 17 -- America's first gay marriage fully authorized by law took place here this morning when Tanya McCloskey, 52, and Marcia Kadish, 56, exchanged vows at the Cambridge City Hall."

"Gay Couples Wed in Mass.,", May 17, 2004

June 10, 2004 - New York Court Backs Gay Marriage

"A New York court has ruled in favour of gay marriages saying that failure to do so would breach the equal rights laws written into the state's constitution.

In its ruling the court in the town of New Paltz also dismissed the charges against local mayor Jason West who wed dozens of gay couples in February. It had been claimed that Mr West broke the law when he allowed the marriages."

"New York Court Backs Gay Marriage,", June 10, 2004

July 14, 2004 - Same-Sex Marriage Ban Fails in US Senate

"Efforts to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage foundered Wednesday afternoon in the Senate when the proposal failed to garner enough votes to stay alive.

After final arguments by the leaders of each party, the Republicans mustered 48 votes, 12 short of the 60 they needed to overcome a procedural hurdle and move the proposed amendment to the floor.

'In 217 years, we've only amended that sacred document 17 times,' said Sen. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota before the vote. 'There have been 11,000 separate attempts.'

There is no urgent need to amend the Constitution now, he said.

But Sen. Bill Frist disagreed. 'It has become clear to legal scholars... that same-sex marriage will be exported to all 50 states,' said the majority leader, from Tennessee.

'Will activist judges not elected by the American people destroy the institution of marriage, or will the people protect marriage as the best way to raise children? My vote is with the people.'"

"Same-sex Marriage Senate Battle Over, War Is Not,", July 15, 2004

Aug. 3, 2004 - Missouri Votes to Ban Same-Sex Marriage

"Missouri voters solidly endorsed a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage."

"Missouri Voters Approve Gay Marriage Ban; Vote Seen as Bellwether for Other States,", Aug. 4, 2004

Aug. 4, 2004 - Seattle Judge Approves Same-Sex Marriages

"Gay couples can be married under Washington state law, because denying their right to do so is a violation of their constitutional rights, a judge ruled Wednesday [Aug. 4, 2004].

'The denial to the plaintiffs of the right to marry constitutes a denial of substantive due process,' King County Superior Court Judge William L. Downing said in his ruling."

"Washington Judge OKs Same-Sex Marriage,", Aug. 4, 2004

Aug. 12, 2004 - California Supreme Court Voids Same-Sex Marriages

"Thousands of marriages sanctioned in San Francisco earlier this year were voided Thursday when the California Supreme Court ruled that city's mayor overstepped his authority by issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said the city would appeal the 5-2 ruling by the state's high court...

In its ruling Thursday, the court said San Francisco illegally issued the certificates and performed the wedding ceremonies, since state law defined marriage as a union between a man and woman. The justices nullified the nearly 4,000 marriages performed between February 12 and Mar. 11, when the court halted the weddings.

The court did not resolve whether the California Constitution would permit a same-sex marriage, ruling instead on the limits of authority regarding local government officials.

The high court's ruling ordered city and county officials to 'take all necessary remedial steps to undo the continuing effects of the officials' past unauthorized actions, including making appropriate corrections to all relevant official records and notifying all affected same-sex couples that the same-sex marriages authorized by the officials are void and of no legal effect.'"

"California High Court Voids Same-Sex Marriage,", Aug. 13, 2004

Aug. 24, 2004 - Vice President Dick Cheney Sees Same-Sex Marriage as a State Issue

"Vice President Cheney spelled out his differences with President Bush on the volatile issue of gay marriage Tuesday [Aug. 24, 2004] while making his most revealing public comments so far about the sexual orientation of his gay daughter.

Asked his position on the subject at a town hall meeting here, Cheney replied: 'Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with.... With respect to the question of relationships, my general view is that freedom means freedom for everyone. People... ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.'

Cheney went on to reiterate the position he first outlined in the 2000 campaign -- that same-sex marriage should be left to the states to decide. He noted, however, that Bush has endorsed a constitutional amendment preventing the states from recognizing such marriages.

'At this point... my own preference is as I've stated,' Cheney said. 'But the president makes basic policy for the administration. And he's made it.'"

"Cheney Sees Gay Marriage as State Issue,", Aug. 25, 2004

Sep. 18, 2004 - Same-Sex Marriage Ban Approved in Louisiana

"Louisiana voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment Saturday [Sep. 18, 2004] banning same-sex marriages and civil unions, one of up to 12 such measures on the ballot around the country this year."

"Louisiana Voters Approve Same-Sex Marriage Amendment,", Sep. 20, 2004

Sep. 30, 2004 - US House of Representatives Rejects Same-Sex Marriage Ban

"The House joined the Senate yesterday in refusing to approve a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage, described by Republican supporters as a vital protection for traditional families but denounced by Democratic foes as a divisive pre-election ploy to inflame prejudice.

The vote by the GOP-controlled House was 227 to 186 in favor of writing the same-sex marriage ban into the Constitution, 49 short of the two-thirds majority needed to approve an amendment and send it to the states for ratification.

The Senate, also controlled by Republicans, voted 50 to 48 in July against taking up the amendment."

"House Rejects Same-Sex Marriage Ban,", Oct. 1, 2004

Nov. 2, 2004 - 11 US States Pass Initiatives to Ban Same-Sex Marriage

"Measures banning same-sex marriage passed by wide margins in all 11 states that had them on Tuesday's [Nov. 2, 2004] ballot, in what conservative groups described yesterday [Nov. 3, 2004] as a sweeping popular rejection of a Massachusetts court's decision to allow gay marriage in that state."

"Same-Sex Bans Fuel Conservative Agenda,", Nov. 4, 2004

(Note: Click here to see a recap of those 11 measures.)

Nov. 29, 2004 - US Supreme Court Declines to Review Massachusetts' Same-Sex Marriage Law

"The Supreme Court on Monday [Nov. 29, 2004] sidestepped a dispute over same-sex marriages, rejecting a challenge to the nation's only law sanctioning such unions."

"Supreme Court Declines Massachusetts Same-Sex Marriage Fight Conservatives Had Challenged State Law Allowing Unions,", Nov. 29, 2004


Feb. 4, 2005 - State Judge Rules That New York Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Is Illegal

"A New York State judge in Manhattan ruled yesterday (Feb. 4, 2005) that a state law that effectively denied gay couples the right to marry violated the state Constitution, a decision that raised the possibility that the city would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as next month.

The ruling, by Justice Doris Ling-Cohan, was the first on the state level to side with proponents of gay marriage. In her 62-page decision, she wrote that the state's Domestic Relations Law, which dates to 1909 and limits marriage to unions between opposite-sex couples, deprived gay couples of equal protection and due process rights under the state Constitution.

She likened the law to those that once barred interracial marriages and said that words currently used in defining legal marriages - husband and wife, groom and bride - 'shall be construed to apply equally to either men or women.'"

"Judge's Ruling Opens Window for Gay Marriage in New York City,", Feb. 5, 2005

Feb. 23, 2005 - Pope Calls Same-Sex Marriage 'Evil'

"Homosexual marriages are part of 'a new ideology of evil' that is insidiously threatening society, Pope John Paul says in his newly published book... In one section about the role of lawmakers, the Pope takes another swipe at gay marriages when he refers to 'pressures' on the European Parliament to allow them.

'It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man,' he writes."

"Pope Calls Gay Marriage Part of 'Ideology of Evil,'", Feb. 23, 2005

Mar. 14, 2005 - Judge Rules California Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional

"A judge ruled today [Mar. 14, 2005] that California can no longer justify limiting marriage to a man and a woman, a legal milestone that if upheld on appeal would pave the way for the nation's most populous state to follow Massachusetts in allowing same-sex couples to wed...

'The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional,' Kramer wrote."

"Judge Says Calif. Can't Ban Gay Marriage,", Mar. 14, 2005

Apr. 4, 2005 - Kansas Voters Approve Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

"Voters in Kansas overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying or entering into civil unions. With more than half of the precincts reporting, 298,647 votes, or 70 percent, were cast in favor of a amendment, with 128,366, or 30 percent, opposed."

"Kansas: Voters Approve Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage,", Apr. 5, 2005

Apr. 14, 2005 - Oregon Court Voids Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

"The Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday (Apr. 14, 2005) nullified nearly 3,000 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples by Multnomah County a year ago, saying a single county couldn't take such action on its own. The court said while the county can question the constitutionality of laws governing marriage, they are a matter of statewide concern so the county had no authority to issue licenses to gay couples."

"Oregon Court Voids Same-Sex Marriage Licenses,", Apr. 14, 2005

Apr. 20, 2005 - Connecticut Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions

"Connecticut on Wednesday [Apr. 20, 2005] became the second state to offer civil unions to gay couples -- and the first to do so without being forced by the courts...

The Senate approved the amended bill Wednesday 26-8. The law takes effect October 1."

"Connecticut OKs Civil Unions for Gay Couples,", Apr. 20, 2005

Apr. 25, 2005 - Navajo Nation Bans Same-Sex Marriage

"The Navajo Nation has forbidden same-sex marriages on its Arizona reservation. The Tribal Council voted unanimously in favor of legislation that recognizes only the union of one man and one woman, and prohibits marriages between close relatives.

'Men and women have been created in a sacred manner,' delegate Harriet K. Becenti said."

"Navajo Council Bars Same-Sex Marriage,", Apr. 25, 2005

July 4, 2005 - United Church of Christ Backs Same-Sex Marriage

"The United Church of Christ became the first mainline Christian denomination to support same-sex marriage officially when its general synod passed a resolution on Monday [July 4, 2005] affirming 'equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender.'"

"United Church of Christ Backs Same-Sex Marriage,", July 5, 2005

July 20, 2005 - Canada Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

"Canada signed gay marriage legislation into law Wednesday [July 20, 2005], becoming the fourth nation to grant full legal rights to same-sex couples."

"Canada OKs Gay Marriage,", July 25, 2005

Aug. 22, 2005 - California Supreme Court Establishes Co-Parenting Rights for Same-Sex Couples

"California Supreme Court issues first-of-its-kind ruling recognizing the co-parenting rights of same-sex couples."

"Gay Marriage Timeline,", Apr. 1, 2008

Sep. 6, 2005 - California Legislature First in United States to Approve Gay Marriage Legalization

"The California Legislature on Tuesday became the first legislative body in the country to approve same-sex marriages, as gay-rights advocates overcame two earlier defeats in the Assembly.

The 41-35 vote sends the bill to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose office had no comment on the bill when it cleared the Senate last week."

"California Legislature Approves Same-Sex Marriage Bill,", Sep. 7, 2005

Sep. 29, 2005 - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today delivered on his promise to veto legislation that would have given same-sex partners the right to marry, but said he would not support any rollback of the state's current domestic partner benefits."

"Schwarzenegger Vetoes Gay Marriage Bill as Promised,", Sep. 29, 2005

Nov. 9, 2005 - Texas Voters Approve Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

"Texas voters Tuesday overwhelming approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, making their state the 19th to take that step."

"Texas OKs Gay-Marriage Ban,", Nov. 19, 2005

June 6, 2006 - Alabama Voters Approve Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage

"Alabama voters showed that there are limits to how far they are willing to go to mix faith and politics in the Buckle of the Bible Belt. They overwhelmingly endorsed a ban on gay marriage Tuesday, giving it 81 percent approval."

"Alabama Voters Showed That There are Limits to How Far They Are Willing to Go to Mix Faith and Politics,", June 6, 2006

July 18, 2006 - House Rejects Constitutional Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage

"The House on Tuesday rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, ending for another year a congressional debate that supporters of the ban hope will still reverberate in this fall's election.

The 236-187 vote for the proposal to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman was 47 short of the two-thirds majority needed to advance a constitutional amendment."

"House Rejects Gay Marriage Ban Amendment,", July 18, 2006

Oct. 25, 2006 - New Jersey Supreme Court Orders Legislature to Recognize Same-Sex Unions

"In a decision likely to stoke the contentious election-year debate over same-sex marriage, the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that state lawmakers must provide the rights and benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples.

The high court on Wednesday [Oct. 25, 2006] gave legislators six months to either change state marriage laws to include same-sex couples, or come up with another mechanism, such as civil unions, that would provide the same protections and benefits.

The court's vote was 4-to-3. But the ruling was more strongly in favor of same-sex marriage than that split would indicate. The three dissenting justices argued the court should have extended full marriage rights to homosexuals, without kicking the issue back to legislators."

"New Jersey Court Recognizes Right to Same-Sex Unions,", Oct. 26, 2006

Nov. 7, 2006 - Voters in Seven States Approve Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

"Voters in seven states - Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin - approve constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage."

"Gay Marriage Timeline,", Apr. 1, 2008

Nov. 30, 2006 - South Africa Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

"The South African parliament legalized same-sex marriage in November 2006, one year after the country’s highest court ruled that the previous marriage laws violated the South African constitution’s guarantee of equal rights. The new law allows for religious institutions and civil officers to refuse to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, a provision that critics claim violates the rights of same-sex couples under the constitution.

The new measure passed by a margin of greater than five-to-one, with support coming from both the governing African National Congress as well as the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. However, the traditional monarch of the Zulu people, who account for about one-fifth of the country’s population, maintains that homosexuality is morally wrong."

"Gay Marriage around the World,", July 16, 2013

May 15, 2008 - California Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Gay Marriage

"The California Supreme Court, striking down two state laws that had limited marriages to unions between a man and a woman, ruled Thursday [May 15, 2008] that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The court’s 4-to-3 decision, drawing on a ruling six decades ago that struck down the state’s ban on interracial marriage, would make California only the second state, after Massachusetts, to allow same-sex marriages...

Given the historic, cultural, symbolic and constitutional significance of marriage, Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote for the majority, the state cannot limit its availability to opposite-sex couples.
'In view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship,' he wrote, 'the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.'"

"California Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban,", May 15, 2008

Aug. 22, 2008 - Coquille Indian Tribe Becomes First Native American Tribe to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

"At the request of a lesbian couple, the Coquille Indian Tribe on the southern Oregon coast has adopted a law recognizing same-sex marriage.

Tribal law specialists say the Coquille appear to be the first tribe to sanction such marriages. Most tribal law doesn't address the issue. The Navajo and Cherokee tribes prohibit same-sex marriages...

Oregon voters amended the state constitution in 2004 to prohibit gay marriage. But with its sovereignty recognized by the federal government, the [Coquille Indian] tribe is not bound by the state constitution."

"Oregon Tribe to Allow Same-Sex Marriages,", Aug. 22, 2008

Oct. 10, 2008 - Connecticut Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Couples Can Marry

"A sharply divided Connecticut Supreme Court struck down the state’s civil union law on Friday and ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Connecticut thus joins Massachusetts and California as the only states to have legalized gay marriages.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed and is to take effect on Oct. 28, held that a state law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, and a civil union law intended to provide all the rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples, violated the constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law.

The [4-3] ruling was groundbreaking in various respects. In addition to establishing Connecticut as the third state to sanction same-sex marriage, it was the first state high court ruling to hold that civil union statutes specifically violated the equal protection clause of a state constitution."

"Gay Marriage Is Ruled Legal in Connecticut,", Oct. 10, 2008

Nov. 4, 2008 - California Voters Approve a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

"A measure to once again ban gay marriage in California was passed by voters in Tuesday's [Nov. 4, 2008] election, throwing into doubt the unions of an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who wed during the last 4 1/2 months...

Proposition 8 was the most expensive proposition on any ballot in the nation this year, with more than $74 million spent by both sides.

The measure's most fervent proponents believed that nothing less than the future of traditional families was at stake, while opponents believed that they were fighting for the fundamental right of gay people to be treated equally under the law...

Eight years ago, Californians voted 61% to define marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

The California Supreme Court overturned that measure, Proposition 22, in its May 15 decision legalizing same-sex marriage on the grounds that the state Constitution required equal treatment of gay and lesbian couples."

"California Voters Approve Proposition 8 Ban on Same-Sex Marriages,", Nov. 5, 2008

Nov. 4, 2008 - Florida Voters Approve a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriages

"A ban on gay marriage, which is already illegal in Florida, looks like it will be enshrined in the state Constitution...

The marriage protection amendment defines marriage as a bond between straight couples and renders invalid any other union that is 'treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent.''

"California Voters Approve Gay-Marriage Bans,", Nov. 5, 2008

Nov. 4, 2008 - Arizona Voters Approve a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriages

"The second time around proved the charm, as Arizona voters approved a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

Proposition 102 proposed a 20-word amendment to the state Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It's an attempt to do what backers couldn't do in 2006: ensure that Arizona's existing law banning same-sex marriages will not be overturned by a judge."

"Voters Approve Proposal to Ban Gay Marriage,", Nov. 5, 2008

Apr. 3, 2009 - Iowa Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Gay Marriage

"Same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in Iowa by month’s end, after a ruling on Friday [Apr. 3, 2009] by the Iowa Supreme Court that found unconstitutional a state law limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

The unanimous decision moved the heated battle over same-sex marriage beyond the East and West Coasts to the nation’s middle...

Opponents of same-sex marriage pledged to fight the outcome, but acknowledged that there appeared to be no immediate way to undo it. The only avenue would be a constitutional amendment, but under Iowa law that process would take at least two years...

Same-sex marriages could take place in counties here starting in three weeks, when the ruling becomes final... There is no requirement that people seeking marriage licenses prove they live in Iowa, so the doors will be open to same-sex couples from other states."

"Iowa Court Voids Gay Marriage Ban,", Apr. 3, 2009

Apr. 7, 2009 - Vermont Legislature Legalizes Same-Sex Marriages

"Vermont on Tuesday [Apr. 7, 2009] became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage - and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

The House recorded a dramatic 100-49 vote - the minimum needed - to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto. Its vote followed a much easier override vote in the Senate, which rebuffed the Republican governor with a vote of 23-5.

Vermont was the first state to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples and joins Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa in giving gays the right to marry. Their approval of gay marriage came from the courts."

"Vermont Legalizes Gay Marriage with Veto Override,", Apr. 7, 2009

May 6, 2009 - Maine Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Same-Sex Marriages

"Maine's governor signed a freshly passed bill Wednesday approving gay marriage, making it the fifth state to approve the practice and moving New England closer to allowing it throughout the region...

The Maine Senate voted 21-13, with one absent, for a bill that authorizes marriage between any two people rather than between one man and one woman... The House had passed the bill Tuesday.

Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, who hadn't previously indicated how he would handle the bill, signed it shortly afterward. In the past, he said he opposed gay marriage but supported civil unions."

"Maine Becomes 5th State to Allow Same-Sex Marriage,", May 6, 2009

May 26, 2009 - California Supreme Court Upholds Proposition 8's Ban on Same-Sex Marriages

"The California Supreme Court today upheld Proposition 8's ban on same-sex marriage but also ruled that gay couples who wed before the election will continue to be married under state law...

Although the court split 6-1 on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the justices were unanimous in deciding to keep intact the marriages of as many as 18,000 gay couples who exchanged vows before the election. The marriages began last June, after a 4-3 state high court ruling striking down the marriage ban last May...

Even with the court upholding Proposition 8, a key portion of the court's May 15, 2008, decision remains intact. Sexual orientation will continue to receive the strongest constitutional protection possible when California courts consider cases of alleged discrimination. The California Supreme Court is the only state high court in the nation to have elevated sexual orientation to the status of race and gender in weighing discrimination claims."

Los Angeles Times , "Prop. 8 Upheld by California Supreme Court,", May 26, 2009

Strauss v. Horton, Tyler v. State of California, and County of San Francisco v. Horton

June 3, 2009 - New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Marriages

"The New Hampshire legislature approved revisions to a same-sex marriage bill on Wednesday [June 3, 2009], and Gov. John Lynch promptly signed the legislation, making the state the sixth to let gay couples wed.

The bill had been through several permutations to satisfy Mr. Lynch and certain legislators that it would not force religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage to participate in ceremonies celebrating it. Some groups had feared they could be sued for refusing to allow same-sex weddings on their property.

Mr. Lynch, who previously supported civil unions but not marriage for same-sex couples, said in a statement that he had heard 'compelling arguments that a separate system is not an equal system.'

'Today,' he said, 'we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities - and respect - under New Hampshire law."

"New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage,", June 3, 2009

Nov. 5, 2009 - Maine Voters Repeal State’s Law Allowing Same-Sex Marriage

"With 87 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday [Nov. 4, 2009] morning, 53 percent of voters had approved the repeal, ending an expensive and emotional fight that was closely watched around the country as a referendum on the gay-marriage movement. Polls had suggested a much closer race...

With the repeal of the same-sex marriage law, Maine became the 31st state to reject same-sex marriage at the ballot box. Five other states - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont - have legalized same-sex marriage, but only through court rulings and legislative action...

Throughout the bitter campaign, supporters of same-sex marriage had stressed that gay couples deserved equal treatment under the law, banking on Maine’s reputation as a 'live-and-let-live' state. Opponents repeatedly warned voters that if gays were allowed to marry, it would be taught in the public schools - a tactic that proved effective in California last year."

"A Setback in Maine for Gay Marriage, But Medical Marijuana Law Expands,", Nov. 4, 2009

June 28, 2010 - Iceland's Prime Minister, First Openly Gay Head of Government, Marries Partner

"Johanna Sigurdardottir, Iceland prime minister, married her long-time partner on Sunday as a new law legalising homosexual marriages came into force... Miss Sigurdardottir, 68, formally married Jonina Leosdottir, a writer, after the couple submitted a demand for their civil union to be transformed into a marriage.

Miss Sigurdardottir, born in 1942, took power in February 2009. She has lived with Miss Ledsdottir, who is in her fifties, for several years and the couple entered a civil union in 2002.

She is the world's first openly gay head of government."

"Iceland PM Weds as Gay Marriage Legalised,", June 28, 2010

July 22, 2010 - Argentina Becomes First Country in Latin America to Legalize Gay Marriage

"In July 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. In spite of vigorous opposition from the Catholic Church and evangelical Protestant churches, the measure passed both houses of the Argentine legislature and was signed into law by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The law grants same-sex couples who marry all the rights and responsibilities enjoyed by heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt children."

"Gay Marriage Around the World,", July 16, 2013

Aug. 4, 2010 - US District Judge Rules CA Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

"A federal judge today struck down Proposition 8, the voter-passed November 2008 initiative that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker found that the ban on same-sex marriage violated the constitutional due process and equal protection rights of a pair of couples - one lesbian and one gay - who sued.

The judge ordered an injunction against enforcement of Prop. 8 but issued a temporary stay until he decides whether to suspend his ruling while it is being appealed. The stay means that same-sex couples are still prohibited from marrying...

Walker's ruling [in Perry v. Schwarzenegger] is certain to be appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 or 2012."

San Francisco Chronicle, "Judge Strikes Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage,", Aug. 4, 2010

Perry v. Schwarzenegger

Feb. 23, 2011 - US President Barack Obama Declares Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional, Directs Department of Justice to Stop Defending the Law in Court

"President Obama, in a major legal policy shift, has directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — against lawsuits challenging it as unconstitutional.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday saying that the Justice Department will now take the position in court that the Defense of Marriage Act should be struck down as a violation of gay couples’ rights to equal protection under the law.

'The President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law,' a crucial provision of the act is unconstitutional, Mr. Holder wrote."

"Obama Orders End to Defense of Federal Gay Marriage Law,", Feb. 23, 2011

June 24, 2011 - New York Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

"The number of Americans living in states covered by same-sex marriage laws has more than doubled after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that gave gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Cuomo signed the measure after it passed a Republican-controlled Senate on Friday night [June 24, 2011], raising questions as to whether the move reflects new momentum in the gay rights movement.

Cuomo said the law will grant same-sex couples equal rights to marry 'as well as hundreds of rights, benefits and protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex.' A few of those are the right of inheritance, employer health benefits and a host of state tax benefits. That will not include Social Security benefits through a spouse, because that is a federal benefit.

The controversial law passed by a narrow 33-to-29 vote - a first for a GOP-led state Senate - making New York the sixth state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage."

"Number of Americans in Same-Sex Marriage States More Than Doubles,", June 25, 2011

July 19, 2011 - President Barack Obama Supports Dianne Feinstein's Bill to Repeal Defense of Marriage Act

"The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will support a congressional effort to repeal a federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and woman.

White House spokesman Jay Carney denounced the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), saying the administration will back a bill introduced this year by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to remove the law from the books.

Feinstein's bill, called the Respect for Marriage Act, would 'uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples' the same rights as others, according to Carney."

"Obama Backs Bill to Repeal Defense of Marriage Act,", July 19, 2011


Feb. 7, 2012 - US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules CA Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

"A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage, clearing the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage as early as next year.

The 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that limited marriage to one man and one woman, violated the U.S. Constitution. The architects of Prop. 8 have vowed to appeal. The ruling was narrow and likely to be limited to California...

In a separate decision, the appeals court refused [3-0] to invalidate Walker’s ruling on the grounds that he should have disclosed he was in a long term same-sex relationship. Walker, a Republican appointee who is openly gay, said after his ruling that he had been in a relationship with another man for 10 years."

"Prop. 8: Gay-marriage Ban Unconstitutional, Court Rules,", Feb. 7, 2012

Feb. 13, 2012 - Washington Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

"Washington state became the seventh in the nation to put a law on its books recognizing same-sex marriage on Monday, as opponents of the measure signed by Governor Christine Gregoire vowed to try to prevent it from ever taking effect.

The measure, which won final approval from state lawmakers last Wednesday, remains essentially on hold until at least early June, following a standard enactment period that runs until 90 days after Washington's legislative session ends."

"Washington Governor Signs Gay Marriage Law,", Feb. 13, 2012

Mar. 1, 2012 - Maryland Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

"Maryland's governor signed a measure legalizing gay marriage Thursday, joining seven other states.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, signed the bill a week after its final passage in the Legislature. The law is scheduled to take effect in January 2013. However, opponents - backed by many churches - are expected to petition the law to a referendum on the November ballot."

"Md. Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Gay Marriage,", Mar. 1, 2012

May 9, 2012 - President Obama Endorses Same-Sex Marriage

"President Obama announced Wednesday that he believes same-sex couples should be granted the right to marry, becoming the first U.S. president in history to fully embrace that level of civil rights for gays.

Obama’s announcement gave an immediate jolt to the decades-long movement for gay equality at a moment when a growing number of states are moving to ban — or legalize — same-sex unions and as polls show a majority of Americans support marriage rights."

"Obama Endorses Gay Marriage, Says Same-Sex Couples Should Have Right to Wed,", May 9, 2012

Nov. 6, 2012 - Maine, Maryland, and Washington Become First States to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage by Popular Vote

"Voters in Maine and Maryland approved same-sex marriage on a day of election results that jubilant gay rights advocates called a historic turning point, the first time that marriage for gay men and lesbians has been approved at the ballot box.

In Minnesota, in another first, voters rejected a proposal to amend the State Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, a measure that has been enshrined in the constitutions of 30 states. A state law barring same-sex marriage remains on the books there, but with the defeat of the amendment, the door remains open to change by the legislature or the courts."

"Washington state has approved gay marriage, joining Maine and Maryland as the first states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote.

With about three-quarters of the expected ballots counted Thursday, Referendum 74 was maintaining its lead of 52 percent. Opponents conceded the race Thursday, while supporters declared victory a day earlier...

Gay couples in Washington could start picking up their marriage certificates and licenses from county auditor offices Dec. 6, a day after the election is certified. However, because Washington has a three-day waiting period, the earliest a certificate could be signed, making the marriage valid, is Dec. 9."

"Washington Voters Approve Gay Marriage,", Nov. 9, 2012

New York Times, "Same-Sex Marriage Gains Cheer Gay Rights Advocates,", Nov. 7, 2012

Dec. 7, 2012 - US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Two Same-Sex Marriage Cases

"The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would enter the national debate over same-sex marriage, agreeing to hear a pair of cases challenging state and federal laws that define marriage to include only unions of a man and a woman.

One of the cases, from California [the Proposition 8 case], could establish or reject a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Another case, from New York, challenges a federal law [the Defense of Marriage Act] that requires the federal government to deny benefits to gay and lesbian couples married in states that allow such unions."

"Supreme Court to Take Up Gay Marriage,", Dec. 7, 2012

Feb. 11, 2013 - US Military Extends Some Marriage Benefits to Same-Sex Partners

"The Pentagon announced Monday that it would extend 20 new benefits to same-sex military couples, including access to base facilities and groups as well as joint assignments, the latest move by the Obama administration to heed calls from gay and lesbians pressing for change.

Activists hailed the move as a meaningful step toward full equality, which they say will remain elusive unless a 1996 federal law [the Defense of Marriage Act] that defines marriage as a heterosexual union is repealed. The new benefits do not include health care coverage for same-sex spouses or on-base housing privileges."

"Same-Sex Military Couples to Receive New Benefits, Pentagon Says,", Feb. 11, 2013

May 2, 2013 - Rhode Island Becomes 10th US State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

"Overcoming years of resistance, Rhode Island on Thursday became the 10th state in the country and the last in New England to approve same-sex marriage.

The measure passed a final vote in the legislature in the afternoon. Just before 7 p.m., Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent who had long advocated for its passage, signed it into law in a jubilant ceremony on the steps of the Statehouse in Providence, where hundreds of people, including many state and local officials, joined the celebration...

Approval in Rhode Island followed a 16-year struggle in the heavily Roman Catholic state, with intense opposition from clerics and many Republicans. But in a sign of the changing times, all five Republicans in the 38-member State Senate supported the measure — the only time in any state where the entire caucus of either party has approved such a measure unanimously — making Rhode Island the latest indication of growing acceptance of same-sex marriage across the country."

"Rhode Island Joins States That Allow Gay Marriage,", May 2, 2013

May 7, 2013 - Delaware Becomes 11th US State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

"A divided state Senate voted Tuesday to make Delaware the 11th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage, after hearing hours of passionate testimony from supporters and opponents.

Less than an hour after the Senate’s 12-9 vote, Democratic Gov. Jack Markell signed the measure into law.

'I do not intend to make any of you wait one moment longer,' a smiling Markell told about 200 jubilant supporters who erupted in cheers and applause following the Senate vote...

Delaware’s same-sex marriage bill was introduced in the Democrat-controlled legislature barely a year after the state began recognizing same-sex civil unions. The bill won passage two weeks ago in the state House on a 23-18 vote."

"Delaware Becomes 11th State Allowing Same-Sex Marriage After State Senate Vote,", May 7, 2013

May 14, 2013 - Minnesota Becomes 12th US State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

"Governor Mark Dayton on Tuesday made Minnesota the nation's 12th state to allow same-sex couples to marry and only the second in the Midwest, signing a bill on the steps of the state Capitol before thousands of supporters.

The Democratic governor's signature came a day after state senators approved the bill, which made Minnesota the third state this month to approve same-sex nuptials after Rhode Island and Delaware.

The Minnesota law takes effect on August 1 and Minneapolis, the state's biggest city, said on Tuesday that City Hall would open just after midnight on the first day same-sex couples can marry and Mayor R.T. Rybak will be on hand to officiate that night...

Iowa is the only other Midwestern state that permits same-sex couples to marry, by a state Supreme Court order in 2009."

"Minnesota Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Gay Marriage,", May 14, 2013

June 26, 2013 - US Supreme Court Finds Key Part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Unconstitutional

"The Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples.

The decision is a landmark win for the gay rights movement. It voids a section of the law known as DOMA, which was adopted with bipartisan support in Congress in 1996 to deny all benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.

At that time, no state permitted gays and lesbians to marry. Now, 12 states and the District of Columbia authorize same-sex marriages.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the 5-4 majority, said DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the right to liberty and to equal protection for gay couples.

'By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute' violates the Constitution, he said.

Dissenting were Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

The ruling means that more than 100,000 gay and lesbian couples who are legally married will be able to take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits that are available to other married couples."

"Gay Marriage Ruling: Supreme Court Finds DOMA Unconstitutional,", June 26, 2013

June 26, 2013 - US Supreme Court Says Proposition 8 Defenders Lack 'Standing,' Clears Way for Legal Gay Marriage in California

"The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal over same-sex marriage on jurisdictional grounds, ruling Wednesday private parties do not have 'standing' to defend California's voter-approved ballot measure barring gay and lesbian couples from state-sanctioned wedlock.

The ruling clears the way for same-sex marriages in California to resume.

The 5-4 decision avoids, for now, a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional 'equal protection' right that would apply to all states.

At issue was whether the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law prevents states from defining marriage to exclude same-sex couples, and whether a state can revoke same-sex marriage through referendum, as California did, once it already has been recognized.

But a majority of the Supreme Court opted not to rule on those issues. Instead, it ruled on 'standing' -- whether those who brought the suit to the court were entitled to do so.

'We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend a state statute when state officials have chosen not to,' said Chief Justice John Roberts. He was supported by an unusual coalition: fellow conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and more liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan.

By dismissing the case, the court leaves in place the lower court decision in California that allows for same-sex marriage to be reinstated. The federal appeals court stay on the decision will be lifted."

"Supreme Court Dismisses California's Proposition 8 Appeal,", June 26, 2013

Aug. 26, 2013 - Some New Mexico Counties Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

"County clerks in New Mexico will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a state judge ruled Monday [Aug. 26, 2013] that the state’s marriage law, which uses gender-neutral terms to define domestic relationships, doesn’t specifically prohibit gay marriage.

State District Judge Alan Malott on Monday ordered Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples immediately. The ruling echoed another district judge’s ruling last week that ordered Santa Fe County to begin issuing licenses...

But whether the rulings means same-sex marriage is legal throughout New Mexico is unclear. Attorney General Gary King (D) has said he will not appeal the rulings, and both Oliver and Salazar have said their offices won’t appeal."

"Gay Marriage Legal in New Mexico, Sort of,", Aug. 28, 2013

Aug. 29, 2013 - Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Recognizes Married Same-Sex Couples

"All legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes no matter what state they live in, the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department announced Thursday in a change that will affect numerous couples in states that have not permitted gay marriage.

The change in policy follows the Supreme Court's decision in June overturning a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages for purposes such as insurance benefits, immigration and tax filings.

The new approach 'provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,' Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement. 'This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.'...

The Treasury Department said the ruling would apply for all federal tax purposes, including income, gift and estate taxes, and all federal tax provisions in which marriage is a factor, including filing status, dependency exemptions, employee benefits and individual retirement accounts.

Individuals who were in same-sex marriages also now have the option of filing amended tax returns for the last three years to reflect their married status."

"IRS, Treasury Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriage Across State Lines,", Aug. 29, 2013

Sep. 27, 2013 - New Jersey Becomes 14th State to Legalize Gay Marriage

"A New Jersey judge ruled on Friday [Sep. 27, 2013] that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, finding that failing to do so deprives them of rights that are now guaranteed by the federal government following a ruling by the Supreme Court in June.

It is the first time a court has struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, and it comes as Gov. Chris Christie continues to oppose allowing gay marriage in the state. Mr. Christies’s office said it would appeal but declined to say whether it would also seek to prevent same-sex weddings from beginning on Oct. 21, as the judge ordered.

'The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,' wrote the judge, Mary C. Jacobson of State Superior Court in Mercer County. 'Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution.'...

In June, the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA. The court’s 5-to-4 decision meant that the federal government must provide the same benefits to gay couples as to heterosexual couples."

"New Jersey Judge Rules State Must Allow Gay Marriage,", Sep. 27, 2013

Nov. 13, 2013 - Hawaii Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

"Hawaii's governor signed into law on Wednesday [Nov. 13, 2013] a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, capping 20 years of legal and political rancor in a state regarded as a pioneer in advancing the cause of gay matrimony.

The new law, which takes effect on December 2, makes Hawaii the 15th U.S. state to legalize nuptials for gay and lesbian couples, rolling back a 1994 statute defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

'In Hawaii, we are all minorities, and we all deserve the same aloha,' state Representative Chris Lee, a leading proponent of the measure, said before Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the bill."

"Hawaii Becomes 15th U.S. State to Legalize Gay Marriage,", Nov. 13, 2013

Nov. 20, 2013 - Illinois Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

"Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Wednesday [Nov. 20, 2013] allowing same-sex weddings starting this summer, making President Barack Obama's home state the 16th overall — and largest in the nation's heartland — to legalize gay marriage...

"We understand in our state that part of our unfinished business is to help other states in the United States of America achieve marriage equality," Quinn said before he signed the bill on a desk once used by President Abraham Lincoln. He said part of that mission was to ensure that "love is not relegated to a second class status to any citizen in our country."...

When the law takes effect June 1 [2014], same-sex couples can begin applying for marriage licenses."

"Illinois Governor Signs Same-Sex Marriage into Law,", Nov. 20, 2013

Dec. 19, 2013 - New Mexico Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

"New Mexico’s highest court unanimously ruled Thursday [Dec. 19, 2013] it is unconstitutional to deny a marriage license to same-sex couples, making it the newest state to legalize gay weddings.

The Supreme Court justices said the state must respect the marriages of all same-sex couples, including those who wed before their decision. Prior to the ruling, county clerks in eight New Mexico counties had started issuing marriage licenses to hundreds of same-sex couples.

'Barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution,' Justice Edward Chavez wrote for the court."

"New Mexico Becomes Latest State to Legalize Gay Marriage,", Dec. 19, 2013

Dec. 20, 2013 - Utah's Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional by Federal Judge

"A federal judge on Friday [Dec. 20, 2013] ruled Utah’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in a state dominated by the Mormon Church, one of the country’s staunchest opponents of gay marriage.

'The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason,' Judge Robert J. Shelby, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, wrote in his opinion. 'Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.'...

The Salt Lake County Clerk began issuing marriage licenses almost immediately after the ruling."

"Utah’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules,", Dec. 20, 2013

Jan. 6, 2014 - US Supreme Court Halts Gay Marriages in Utah

"The Supreme Court on Monday [Jan. 6, 2014] blocked further same-sex marriages in Utah while state officials appeal a decision allowing such unions.

The terse order, from the full court, issued a stay 'pending final disposition' of an appeal to the federal appeals court in Denver. It offered no reasoning."

"Justices Block Gay Marriage in Utah During Appeal of Case,", Jan. 6, 2014

Jan. 7, 2014 - Nigeria Bans Gay Marriage

"A tough ban on same-sex relationships that threatens violators with 14-year prison terms has been quietly signed into law by the president of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, a step that rights advocates have long feared not only as a repression aimed at gays but as an affront to basic freedoms of speech and assembly.

The ban, known as the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, was passed by Parliament in May but was not signed by the president, Goodluck Jonathan, until Jan. 7, Nigerian news agencies reported Monday from Abuja, the capital...

Under the Nigerian law, it is illegal not only to engage in an intimate relationship with a member of the same sex, but to attend or organize a meeting of gays, or patronize or operate any type of gay organization, including private clubs. Any same-sex marriages or partnerships accepted as legal in other countries would be void in Nigeria."

"Nigerian President Signs Ban on Same-Sex Relationships,", Jan. 13, 2014

May 19, 2014 - Oregon Becomes 18th State to Legalize Gay Marriage

"A federal judge struck down Oregon's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage Monday [May 19, 2014].

'Because Oregon's marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest, the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,' U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said in his ruling."

"Federal Judge Strikes Down Oregon's Same-Sex Marriage Ban,", May 19, 2013

May 20, 2014 - Pennsylvania Becomes 19th State to Legalize Gay Marriage

"Pennsylvania will not appeal a federal court ruling that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, ending the battle over the issue in the Keystone State, Gov. Tom Corbett announced on Wednesday.

The decision, announced in emails to reporters, means that Pennsylvania will continue to be the 19th state in the nation, along with the District of Columbia, to legalize gay marriage. Officials began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Tuesday [May 20, 2014] after U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III, sitting in Harrisburg, Pa., ruled that the state’s 1996 ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional."

"Pennsylvania Governor Abandons Appeal on Same-Sex Marriage Ruling,", May 20, 2014

June 19, 2014 - Presbyterian Church Votes to Allow Gay Wedding Ceremonies

"The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted Thursday (June 19) to allow gay and lesbian weddings within the church, making it among the largest Christian denominations to take an embracing step toward same-sex marriage.

By a 76-24 percent vote, the General Assembly of the 1.8 million-member PCUSA voted to allow pastors to perform gay marriages in states where they are legal. Delegates, meeting in Detroit this week, also approved new language about marriage in the church’s Book of Order, or constitution, altering references to 'a man and woman' to 'two persons.'"

"Presbyterians Vote to Allow Gay Marriage by Whopping 3-1 Ratio,", June 19, 2014

July 7, 2014 - United Nations Recognizes Same-Sex Marriages of All UN Staffers

"The United Nations announced Monday [July 7, 2014] it would recognize the gay marriages of all its staffers, in a major policy shift that opens the door for the spouses of homosexual employees to enjoy the same benefits as the husbands and wives of their heterosexual colleagues.

Previously, the United Nations only recognized the unions of staffers who came from countries where gay marriage is legal. Now anyone who marries in countries where gay marriage is legal is included.

The change means gay spouses of U.N. employees can get health insurance coverage and the chance to accompany spouses on their home leave every couple of years, among other benefits."

"Correction: United Nations-Gay Marriage Story,", July 8, 2014

Oct. 6, 2014 - US Supreme Court Clears Way for Same-Sex Marriage in Five States

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to decide once and for all whether states can ban gay marriage, a surprise move that will allow gay men and women to marry in five states where same-sex weddings were previously forbidden.

By rejecting appeals in cases involving Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana, the court left intact lower-court rulings that had struck down the bans in those states. But the high court's action means there will be no imminent national ruling on the issue, with litigation in states where gay marriage is still banned likely to continue...

Other states under the jurisdiction of appeals courts that have struck down the bans will also be affected by the Supreme Court's decision, meaning the number of states with gay marriage is likely to quickly jump from 19 to 30. The other states would be North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado."

"Supreme Court Dodges Gay Marriage, Allowing Weddings in Five States,", Oct. 6, 2014

Nov. 6, 2014 - 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Gay Marriage Bans

"A federal appeals court panel upheld bans on same-sex marriage in four states Thursday, a break with other federal courts that makes it almost certain the Supreme Court must take up the issue of whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry...

The decision overturned lower-court rulings in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky and makes the 6th Circuit the first appeals court to uphold state bans since the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013."

"Appeals Court Upholds Ban on Same-Sex Marriage for First Time,", Nov. 6, 2014

Nov. 12, 2014 - Kansas Becomes 33rd State to Legalize Gay Marriage

"The U.S. Supreme Court cleared Kansas to become the 33rd state with same-sex marriage, turning away a bid by state officials who sought to stop the weddings while a legal fight plays out...

Today’s rebuff, which came without explanation, tracks similar Supreme Court orders that let gay marriage start in Idaho and Alaska in recent weeks. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said they would have granted the request and blocked gay marriages in Kansas."

"U.S. Supreme Court Clears Gay Marriage to Start in Kansas,", Nov. 12, 2014

Nov. 20, 2014 - South Carolina Becomes 35th State to Legalize Gay Marriage

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the way for South Carolina to become the 35th U.S. state where gay marriage is legal, denying a request to block same-same weddings from proceeding.

The order was another victory for gay marriage advocates after a federal judge in Montana on Wednesday struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage."

"Supreme Court Allows Gay Marriage to Proceed in South Carolina,", Nov. 20, 2014

Apr. 28, 2015 - US Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Landmark Gay Marriage Case

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed deeply divided about one of the great civil rights issues of the age: whether the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.

The questions from the justices suggested that they were divided along the usual lines — conservative and liberal — with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy holding the controlling vote. On the evidence of his words, he seemed torn about what to do. But Justice Kennedy’s tone was more emotional and emphatic when he made the case for same-sex marriage. That, coupled with his earlier judicial opinions, gave gay rights advocates reason for optimism by the end of the arguments, which lasted two and a half hours.

The justices appeared to clash over not only what is the right answer in the case but also over how to reach it. The questioning illuminated their conflicting views on history, tradition, biology, constitutional interpretation, the democratic process and the role of the courts in prodding social change...

Until recently, the court has been cautious and halting in addressing same-sex marriage, signaling that it did not want to outpace public support and developments in the states. Now, though, a definitive decision will probably be handed down in about two months."

"Gay Marriage Arguments Divide Supreme Court Justices,", Apr. 28, 2015

May 15, 2015 - Prime Minister Xavier Bettel Marries Partner in First Gay Marriage of EU Leader

"The prime minister of Luxembourg on Friday wed his partner of several years in the first same-sex marriage of a European Union leader.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel married Gauthier Destenay, a Belgian architect, less than a year after lawmakers in Luxembourg overwhelmingly legalized same-sex marriage, a sign of shifting attitudes in the predominantly Roman Catholic duchy.

Mr. Bettel, a 42-year-old lawyer, is the head of the center-right Democratic Party and was elected prime minister in 2013 after having served as mayor of the capital, the city of Luxembourg. He replaced Jean-Claude Juncker, now head of the European Commission, who had been in power for nearly 19 years."

"Luxembourg Premier Is First E.U. Leader to Marry Same-Sex Partner,", May 15, 2015

May 23, 2015 - Ireland Becomes First Country to Legalize Gay Marriage by Popular Vote

"Ireland's citizens have voted in a landslide to legalize gay marriage, electoral officials announced Saturday — a stunningly lopsided result that illustrates what Catholic leaders and rights activists alike called a 'social revolution.'

Friday's referendum saw 62.1 percent of Irish voters say 'yes' to changing the nation’s constitution to define marriage as a union between two people regardless of their sex. Outside Dublin Castle, watching the results announcement in its cobblestoned courtyard, thousands of gay rights activists cheered, hugged and cried at the news...

Ireland is the first country to approve gay marriage in a popular national vote."

"'Bold' Ireland Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage in Landslide,", May 23, 2015

June 26, 2015 - US Supreme Court Makes Gay Marriage Legal in All 50 US States

"In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage…

The decision, which was the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, set off celebrations across the country and the first same-sex marriages in several states. It came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of the unions.

The court’s four more liberal justices joined Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion. Each member of the court’s conservative wing filed a separate dissent, in tones ranging from resigned dismay to bitter scorn." "The Court, in this decision, holds same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States. It follows that the Court also must hold—and it now does hold—that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character... No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

"This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they have reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law; that all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love. This decision will end the patchwork system we currently have. It will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face from not knowing whether their marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state, will remain if they decide to move or even visit another... I know that Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition, in some cases, has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact and recognize different viewpoints, revere our deep commitment to religious freedom."

"Gay Marriage Backers Win Supreme Court Victory,", June 26, 2015

Obergefell v. Hodges, majority decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, June 26, 2015

Barack Obama "Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality,", June 26, 2015

July 1, 2015 - Episcopal Church Votes to Allow Same-Sex Weddings

"Episcopalians overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples, solidifying the church's embrace of gay rights that began more than a decade ago with the election of the first openly gay bishop.

The vote came in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal General Convention, days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. It passed in the House of Deputies, the voting body of clergy and lay participants at the meeting. The House of Bishops had approved the resolution Tuesday, 129-26, with five abstaining.

The Very Rev. Brian Baker of Sacramento said the church rule change was the result of a nearly four-decade conversation that has been difficult and painful for many. Baker, chairman of the committee that crafted the changes, said that church members have not always been kind to one another but that the dynamic has changed in recent decades."

"Episcopal Church Formally Embraces Same-Sex Marriage,", July 1, 2015

Apr. 13, 2016 - Judge Rules against Couple in First Gay Marriage Court Case in China

"A judge ruled on Wednesday against a gay couple who had sought the right to marry, in China's first court case addressing the issue of same-sex unions.

The couple, Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang, filed a lawsuit against a civil affairs bureau in Changsha, Hunan Province, in southern China, after the office refused to grant them the right to marry when they tried to register in June 2015...

The bureau cited three articles from China's marriage law and two from the official marriage registration regulation... with four mentioning 'a man and a woman' and one stating that a civil affairs bureau may refuse applications if it believes a couple is not qualified to marry."

"Judge in China Rules Gay Couple Cannot Marry,", Apr. 13, 2016

Dec. 10, 2017 - Bermuda Becomes First Country to Abolish Gay Marriage

"Just six months after legalising same-sex marriage [on May 5], Bermuda has moved to abolish it. A bill to introduce domestic partnerships was approved without amendment this weekend, and replaces same-sex marriage with the partnerships. It was approved with 24 votes for and 10 against in the Bermuda House. The Domestic Partnership Act 2017 will replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships. The bill will not roll back same-sex marriages that have already taken place since same-sex marriage became legal six months ago following a Supreme Court ruling. It will also affect cruise ships which had begun offering same-sex wedding ceremonies on board since the ruling. A cruise liner in August began offering legal same-sex weddings at sea following the May ruling."

"Bermuda Abolishes Same-Sex Marriage after Six Months,", Dec. 10, 2017

Jan. 10, 2018 - Inter-American Court of Human Rights Rules Gay Marriages Should Be Recognized

"The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled that same-sex marriages should be recognised.

The court's rulings apply to [the 23 Latin American] countries which have signed the American Convention on Human Rights.

Some of the signatories already recognise same-sex marriages while others recognise same-sex civil unions.

But others, such as Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru do not recognise either and will be expected to change their laws.

The court was established by the regional body, the Organization of American States (OAS), and signatories to the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights are bound by its rulings."

"Inter-American Human Rights Court Backs Same-Sex Marriage,", Jan. 10, 2018

June 5, 2018 - Top European Union Court Rules EU Countries Must Recognize Foreign Gay Marriages

"The EU's [European Union's] top court, in a landmark ruling for gay rights in Europe, said on Tuesday [June 5, 2018] that Romania must grant residence to the American husband of a local man even though Romania does not itself permit same-sex marriage.

In a case which has highlighted social differences between western Europe and a more conservative, ex-communist east, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Romania must accept the validity of the mens' 2010 Belgian marriage and treat American Clay Hamilton as Adrian Coman's spouse under EU law...

'Although the member states have the freedom whether or not to authorize marriage between persons of the same sex,' the judges said, 'They may not obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his same-sex spouse, a national of a country that is not an EU member state, a derived right of residence in their territory.'"

"EU Countries Must Recognize Foreign Same-Sex Marriages, Court Rules,", June 5, 2018

May 17, 2019 - Taiwan Becomes First in Asia to Legalize Gay Marriage

"Lawmakers in Taiwan have approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, a landmark decision that makes the self-ruled island the first place in Asia to pass gay marriage legislation.

The vote came almost two years after the island's Constitutional Court ruled that the existing law -- which said marriage was between a man and a woman -- was unconstitutional. The panel of judges gave the island's parliament two years to amend or enact new laws.

On Friday [May 17, 2019] -- only a week off the two-year deadline -- lawmakers in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality. It will go into effect on May 24 [2019]."

Julia Hollingsworth, "Taiwan Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage in Historic First for Asia,", May 17, 2019

June 12, 2019 - Ecuador Legalizes Gay Marriage

"Five of nine judges in Ecuador's top court on Wednesday [June 12, 2019] ruled in favor of two gay couples who sued after their request to be married was denied by the country's civil registry.

The Latin American nation is the 27th country to allow same-sex marriage with the move coming during the annual gay Pride month and events to mark the 50th year of the [June 28, 1969] Stonewall riots in New York that gave rise to the global movement for LGBT+ rights."

Oscar Lopez, "Ecuador Approves Same-Sex Marriage as LGBT+ Groups Hail Landmark Week,", June 13, 2019

Oct 22, 2019 - Northern Ireland Legalizes Gay Marriage

"Abortion has been decriminalised and same-sex marriage is to be legalised in Northern Ireland.

Legislation making the changes - which was passed by MPs at Westminster - came into force at midnight.

The first same-sex weddings in Northern Ireland are set to take place in February 2020... The new legislation says the Westminster government must bring in regulations to provide for same-sex marriage by 13 January 2020.

Because couples have to indicate their intention to marry 28 days before doing so - the first gay weddings are expected to be held in the week of Valentine's Day."

Chris Page, "Northern Ireland Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage Laws Change,", Oct. 22, 2019

May 26, 2020 - Costa Rica Is First Central American Country to Legalize Gay Marriage

On Tuesday, May 26, 2020, President of Costa Rica Alvarado Quesada tweeted, "Today, Costa Rica officially recognizes same-sex marriage. Today we celebrate liberty, equality and our democratic institutions. May empathy and love be the compass that guide us forward and allow us to move forward and build a country that has room for everyone," according to a CNN translation from Spanish.

In Aug. 2018, Costa Rica's Constitutional Court ruled that the country's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and gave the legislature 18 months to legalize gay marriage before the ruling would automatically legalize same-sex marriage. That decision followed the Jan. 2018 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling that gay marriages should be recognized.

Costa Rica is the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage.

Harmeet Kaur, "Costa Rica Becomes the First Central American Country to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage,", May 26, 2020

June 1, 2020 - Estimated 293,000 Gay Couples Married since Obergefell v. Hodges

An estimated 293,000 same-sex couples have married since the June 26, 2015 US Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide, according to a report from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute published on June 1, 2020. There are currently about 513,000 married same-sex couples in the US.

Authors Christy Mallory, JD, and Brad Sears, JD, estimate the weddings created a $3.8 billion influx to state and local economies, $244.1 million in state and local sales tax revenue, and 45,000 jobs.

Christy Mallory and Brad Sears, "The Economic Impact of Marriage Equality Five Years after Obergefell v. Hodges,", May 2020

Sep. 17, 2020 - US Census Releases Data from Updated American Community Survey

The US Census released 2019 data from the American Community Survey, which was updated in 2019 to better capture coupled households. The survey found:

  • About 980,000 households were those of same-sex couples
  • Approximately 58% of the same-sex couples were married, and approximately 42% were unmarried partners
  • 84.6% of same-sex households were employed or seeking employment, compared to 80.4% of opposite-sex households
  • 83.2% of same-sex married women were employed or seeking employment, compared to 71.4% of opposite-sex married women
  • 86.2% of same-sex married men were employed or seeking employment, compared to 90.0% of opposite-sex married men.

US Census, "2019 American Community Survey Statistics for Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Available for States and Local Areas,", Sep. 17, 2020

Oct. 21, 2020 - Pope Francis Expresses Support for Same-Sex Civil Unions

In a new documentary by director Evgeny Afineevsky, "Francesco," amid a conversation about pastoral outreach to LGBTQ+ people, Pope Francis stated, "Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered."

The Vatican declined to comment until the movie had been viewed., "Pope Francis Indicates Support for Same-Sex 'Civil-Unions,'", Oct. 21, 2020

Jason Horowitz, "Pope Francis, in Shift for Church, Voices Support for Same-Sex Civil Unions,", Oct. 21, 2020

Oct. 22, 2020 - Support for Same-Sex Marriage at Highest Point Ever

The 11th annual American Values Survey recorded that 70% of Americans support legal same-sex marriage, compared to 28% who are in opposition, a record high.

The survey also found that 83% of Americans support "laws that would protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing," compared to 16% who are in opposition.

Cameron Jenkins, "Highest Ever Level of Support for Same-Sex Marriage Recorded in New National Poll,", Oct. 21, 2020

PRRI, "Dueling Realities: Amid Multiple Crises, Trump and Biden Supporters See Different Priorities 
and Futures for the Nation,", Oct. 19, 2020

Nov. 3, 2020 - Nevada Votes to Remove Same-Sex Marriage Ban from Constitution

Nevada voters approved Question 2, which will remove an unenforceable section of the state constitution that states “only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state.”

Nevada voters approved the ban in Nev. 2002 and the Ninth Circuit Court struck down the ban in 2014, prior to the country-wide legalization in 2015.

Ballotpedia, "Nevada Question 2, Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment (2020)," (accessed Nov. 4, 2020)

Riley Snyder, "The Indy Explains: Question 2, Removing Same-Sex Marriage Ban from Nevada's Constitution,", Sep. 14, 2020

Mar. 15, 2021 - Vatican Confirms Catholic Church Will Not Bless Same-Sex Marriages

In a Mar. 15, 2021 document from the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican confirmed the Catholic Church would not bless same-sex marriages:


Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?

RESPONSE: Negative.

Explanatory Note
In some ecclesial contexts, plans and proposals for blessings of unions of persons of the same sex are being advanced. Such projects are not infrequently motivated by a sincere desire to welcome and accompany homosexual persons, to whom are proposed paths of growth in faith, 'so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives' order to conform with the nature of sacramentals, when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. Therefore, only those realities which are in themselves ordered to serve those ends are congruent with the essence of the blessing imparted by the Church.

For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex. The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.

Furthermore, since blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments, the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit. This is because they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact 'there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family'.

The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is not therefore, and is not intended to be, a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them."

Holy See Press Office, "Responsum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a Dubium Regarding the Blessing of the Unions of Persons of the Same Sex,", Mar. 15, 2021

Mar. 17, 2021 - Japanese Court Rules Lack of Recognition of Gay Marriage Is Unconstitutional

A district court in the northern city of Sapporo issued the ruling in a civil suit against the Japanese government brought by three same-sex couples. The court ruling stated the lack of recognition was “discriminatory treatment without a rational basis.”

Gay marriage is not explicitly banned but the unions are not recognized by the government.

While the landmark decision is the first time a court has ruled on gay marriage in Japan, the law will only change if Parliament passes legislation, something they have previously been hesitant to do.

Ben Dooley and Hisako Ueno, "Landmark Ruling Cracks Door open for Same-Sex Marriage in Japan,", Mar. 17, 2021

Mar. 23, 2021 - For the First Time, Majority of Republicans Support Same-Sex Marriage

51% of Republicans supported same-sex marriage according to a 2020 PRRI poll, up from 47% in 2019. 72% of Independents and 76% of Democrats also supported the unions.

Support was also found within religious groups: "non-Christian religious Americans (76%), white Catholics (75%), white mainline Protestants (72%), and Hispanic Catholics (71%)... Black Protestants (57%), other Protestants of color (56%), and Hispanic Protestants (51%)," as well as religiously unaffiliated Americans (81%).

A minority of Evangelical protestants supported same-sex marriage, regardless of race: white evangelical Protestants (43%), Hispanic evangelical Protestants (41%), Black evangelical Protestants (49%), and multi-racial and evangelical Protestants of another race (43%).

Overall, 67% of Americans supported same-sex marriage in 2020.

PRRI Staff, "Despite Partisan Rancor, Americans Broadly Support LGBTQ Rights,", Mar. 23, 2021

June 8, 2021 - Record Support for Gay Marriage

A June 2021 Gallup poll found 70% of all Americans support gay marriage, a record high in a continuation of an upward trend since Gallup began polling on the issue in 1996 when support was at 27%.

The poll found 55% of Republicans supported same-sex marriage, the first time Gallup has found majority support among the political group. Support among Democrats (83%) and Independents (73%) also rose.

Majority support spanned age groups, with 84% of young adults, 72% of middle-aged adults, and 60% of older adults supporting gay marriage.

Justin McCarthy, "Record-High 70% in U.S. Support Same-Sex Marriage,", June 8, 2021

Sep. 15, 2021 - Jared Polis First Sitting US Governor to Marry Same-Sex Partner

Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) married long-time partner Marlon Reis on Sep. 15, 2021, in the first same-sex marriage of a sitting US governor.

Polis and Reis stated, "The greatest lesson we have learned over the past eighteen months is that life as we know it can change in an instant. We are thankful for the health and wellbeing of our family and friends, and the opportunity to celebrate our life together as a married couple. After eighteen years, we couldn't be happier to be married at last."

Polis was the first openly gay man elected as governor in the US and the second openly LGBTQ+ person elected governor, after Oregon Governor Kate Brown who identifies as bisexual.

Ashley Killough and Leslie Perrot, "Colorado Governor Weds Longtime Partner in First Same-Sex Marriage for a Sitting Governor,", Sep. 16, 2021 By

Sep. 26, 2021 - Switzerland Legalizes Gay Marriage

64.1% of all voters and a majority in all of Switzerland's 26 cantons (states) voted to legalize gay marriage. The measure also allows lesbian couples to access sperm banks and all gay couples to adopt children. 

Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told media the law would likely take effect in July 2022. The country has allowed same-sex civil unions since 2007. 

Italy remains the only country in western Europe that does not allow same-sex marriage, though it does allow civil unions.

Noele Illien, "Swiss Voters Approve Law Allowing Same-Sex Marriages,", Sep. 26, 2021

Reuters, "Switzerland Votes to Make Same-Sex Marriage Legal by Near Two-Thirds Majority,", Sep. 26, 2021

Dec. 9, 2021 - Chile Legalizes Gay Marriage

Chile's conservative President Sebastián Piñera came out in support of gay marriage over the summer and fast-tracked the legislation to legalize gay marriage.The law is set to take effect 90 days after the president signed the bill (Mar. 9, 2022).

AP, “Chile President Signs Law Allowing Same-Sex Marriage,”, Dec. 9, 2021

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