Same-Sex Marriage Fast Facts

Updated 9:34 AM EDT, Thu August 27, 2020
CNN —  

Here’s a look at same-sex marriage in the United States and worldwide.

Facts:

According to Pew Research Center, support for same-sex marriage in the United States has steadily increased over the last several years.

More than two dozen countries outside of the United States have laws allowing same-sex marriage. Most of these are in Europe and South America. Taiwan was the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

US Timeline

September 21, 1996 - President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage and defining marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

December 3, 1996 - A state court ruling makes Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples. The ruling is stayed and appealed the following day.

December 20, 1999 - The Vermont Supreme Court rules that gay and lesbian couples should be given the same rights as heterosexual couples.

November 18, 2003 - The Massachusetts Supreme Court rules that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

February 12-March 11, 2004 - Nearly 4,000 same-sex couples get marriage licenses in San Francisco, but the California Supreme Court eventually orders San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses. The nearly 4,000 sanctioned marriages are later nullified by the California Supreme Court.

February 20, 2004 - Sandoval County, New Mexico issues 26 same-sex marriage licenses, but they are nullified by the state attorney general the same day.

February 24, 2004 - President George W. Bush announces support for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

February 27, 2004 - New Paltz, New York Mayor Jason West performs same-sex marriages for about a dozen couples. In June, the Ulster County Supreme Court issues West a permanent injunction against marrying same-sex couples.

March 3, 2004 - In Portland, Oregon, the Multnomah County Clerk’s office issues marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Neighboring Benton County follows on March 24.

May 17, 2004 - Massachusetts legalizes same-sex marriage, the first state in the United States to do so.

July 14, 2004 - The US Senate blocks a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage from moving forward in Congress.

August 4, 2004 - A Washington judge rules the state’s law defining marriage is unconstitutional.

September 30, 2004 - The US House of Representatives votes against amending the Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.

October 5, 2004 - A Louisiana judge throws out an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage because the ban also includes civil unions. In 2005, the Louisiana State Supreme Court reinstates the constitutional amendment.

November 2, 2004 - Eleven states pass constitutional amendments defining marriage as being between a man and a woman only: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.

March 14, 2005 - A Superior Court judge rules that California’s law that limits marriage to a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

April 14, 2005 - Oregon’s Supreme Court nullifies the same-sex marriage licenses issued there in 2004.

May 12, 2005 - A federal judge strikes down Nebraska’s ban on protection and recognition of same-sex couples.

September 6, 2005 - The California Legislature passes a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The legislature is the first in the United States to act without a court order to sanction same-sex marriages. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger later vetoes the bill.

September 14, 2005 - The Massachusetts Legislature rejects a proposed amendment to its state constitution to ban same-sex marriages.

November 8, 2005 - Texas becomes the 19th state to adopt a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

January 20, 2006 - A Maryland judge rules the state’s law defining marriage is unconstitutional.

March 30, 2006 - The highest court in Massachusetts rules that same-sex couples who live in other states cannot get married in Massachusetts unless same-sex marriage is legal in their home states.

June 6, 2006 - Alabama voters pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

July 6, 2006 - The New York Court of Appeals rules that a state law banning same-sex marriage is legal, and the Georgia Supreme Court upholds the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

November 7, 2006 - Constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage are on the ballot in eight states. Seven states: Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin, pass theirs, while Arizona voters reject the ban.

May 15, 2008 - The California Supreme Court rules that the state’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. The decision goes into effect on June 16 at 5:01 p.m.

October 10, 2008 - The Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford rules that the state must allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Connecticut on November 12, 2008.

November 4, 2008 - Voters in California approve Proposition 8, which will amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Voters in Arizona and Florida also approve similar amendments to their state constitutions.

April 3, 2009 - The Iowa Supreme Court strikes down a state law banning same-sex marriage. Marriages become legal in Iowa on April 27, 2009.

April 7, 2009 - Vermont legalizes same-sex marriages after both the state Senate and House of Representatives overturn a veto by Governor Jim Douglas. The Senate vote is 23-5, while the House vote is 100-49. Marriages become legal on September 1, 2009.

May 6, 2009 - Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Maine, as Gov. John Baldacci signs a bill less than an hour after the state legislature approves it. Voters in Maine repeal the state’s law allowing same-sex marriage in November 2009.

May 6, 2009 - New Hampshire lawmakers pass a same-sex marriage bill. Marriages will become legal on January 1, 2010.

May 26, 2009 - The California Supreme Court upholds the passage of Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage. However, 18,000 such marriages performed before Proposition 8 will remain valid.

June 17, 2009 - President Barack Obama signs a memorandum granting some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

December 15, 2009 - The city council of Washington, DC votes to legalize same-sex marriage, 11-2. Marriages become legal on March 9, 2010.

July 9, 2010 - Judge Joseph Tauro of Massachusetts rules that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it interferes with a state’s right to define marriage.

August 4, 2010 - Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker from the United States District Court/Northern District of California decides that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

February 23, 2011 - The Obama Administration instructs the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

June 24, 2011 - The New York Senate votes to legalize same-sex marriage. Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill just before midnight.

September 30, 2011 - The US Department of Defense issues new guidelines allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex ceremonies.

February 1, 2012 - The Washington Senate passes a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, by a vote of 28-21. On February 8, 2012, the House approves the measure by a vote of 55-43. The bill is signed into law in Washington by Governor Christine Gregoire on February 13, 2012.

February 7, 2012 - A three-judge panel with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rules that Proposition 8, the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban, violates the constitution.

February 17, 2012 - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoes a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.

February 23, 2012 - The Maryland Senate passes a bill to legalize same-sex marriage and Governor Martin O’Malley promises to sign it into law. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2013.

May 8, 2012 - North Carolina voters pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, putting a ban that already existed in state law into the state’s charter.

May 9, 2012 - Excerpts from an interview with ABC air in which Obama endorses same-sex marriage, the first such statement by a sitting president. He feels that the legal decision should be up to the states to determine.

May 31, 2012 - The 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston rules that the Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA), discriminates against gay couples.

June 5, 2012 - The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals in San Francisco denies a request to review an earlier court decision stating that California’s Proposition 8 violates the Constitution. A stay on same-sex marriages in California remains in place until the issue is exhausted in the courts.

October 18, 2012 - The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA), violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause, deciding in favor of widow Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian who sued the federal government for charging her more than $363,000 in estate taxes after being denied the benefit of spousal deductions.

November 6, 2012 - Voters in Maryland, Washington and Maine pass referendums legalizing same-sex marriage. This is the first time same-sex marriage has been approved by a popular vote in the United States. Voters in Minnesota reject a ban on the issue.

December 5, 2012 - Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signs Referendum 74, the Marriage Equality Act, into law. Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Washington the following day.

December 7, 2012 - The US Supreme Court announces it will hear two constitutional challenges to state and federal laws dealing with the recognition of gay and lesbian couples to legally wed. Oral arguments in the appeal are held in March 2013, with a ruling expected by late June.

January 25, 2013 - The Rhode Island House of Representatives passes a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. On May 2, 2013, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee signs the bill legalizing the marriages after the state legislature approves the measure, and the law goes into effect in August 2013.