Gay marriage, also known as same-sex marriage, is the marriage of people of the same sex or gender.
In 1970, a same-sex couple in Minnesota applied for a marriage license and was denied. The case was brought to the Minnesota Supreme Court and brought the question of civil marriage rights for same-sex couples to the public attention. Unfortunately, many of these early cases were unsuccessful. Gay marriages made progress in the 1980s, when Berkeley, California, passes the country’s first domestic partnership law. In 1987, the first mass same-sex wedding ceremony took place on the National Mall, where almost 2,000 same-sex couples were married. In 1989, court rulings in New York and California defined same-sex couples as families.
Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2003. California and Connecticut legalized gay marriage in 2008, followed by Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Legalization came through state courts, the enactment of state legislation, or the result of the decisions of federal courts until 2012. On November 6, 2012, Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states to legalize gay marriage through a popular vote. On June 26, 2015, in the landmark case of Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriages. Despite this, not all states are abiding and have enacted constitutional or statutory bans on gay marriage known as “Defense of Marriage” acts.
As of 2020, 37 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Alabama, Missouri, and Alabama have done so with restrictions. Thirteen U.S. states have a ban on same-sex marriage; however, eight of these states have court rulings in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. In the 2020 election, Nevada became the first state to recognize gay marriage in a state constitution. The ballot question asked voters if they support an amendment recognizing marraige "as between couples regardless of gender."
Below are the states that have legalized gay marriage in the order in which they legalized. Dates are of the enactment or ruling. The following states have not legalized gay marriage: