Same-sex marriage is the marriage of people of the same sex or gender. While same-sex marriage is legal in many countries it is still a debate in many places around the world. The first lawsuits involving same-sex marriage, also called gay marriage, started in the 1970s, bringing the question of civil marriage rights for same-sex couples to public attention. Many of these lawsuits were unsuccessful. On February 12, 2004, the first same-sex marriage in the United States happened in San Francisco, California. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon become the first gay couple to marry and receive official recognition after being together for 50 years.
On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state and sixth jurisdiction in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Following this, opponents of same-sex marriage began tightening marriage restrictions, with several states approving state constitutional amendments specifically defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
In 2008, California and Connecticut both legalized same-sex marriage, followed by Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Up until 2012, legalization came through state courts, the enactment of state legislation, or the result of the decisions of federal courts. On November 6, 2012, Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.
On June 26, 2015, in the landmark civil rights case Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, not all state legislatures are abiding by this decision and have enacted constitutional or statutory bans on same-sex marriage, known as the “Defense of Marriage” Acts. Thirteen of the 50 U.S. states still have a ban on same-sex marriage; however, because of Obergefell v. Hodges, these laws are null and void.
Same-Sex Marriage by State
The following 13 states have not legalized same-sex marriage: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. Thirty-seven states have legalized gay marriage, with restrictions in Kansas, Missouri, and Alabama.
The following 37 states (and the District of Columbia) have legalized same-sex marriage: Alabama (2015), Alaska (2014), Arizona (2014), California (2008), Colorado (2014), Connecticut (2008), Delaware (2013), District of Columbia (2010), Florida (2014), Hawaii (2013), Idaho (2014), Illinois (2014), Indiana (2014), Iowa (2009), Kansas (2015), Maine (2012), Maryland (2012), Massachusetts (2004), Minnesota (2013), Montana (2014), Nevada (2014), New Hampshire (2010), New Jersey (2013), New Mexico (2013), New York (2011), North Carolina (2014), Oklahoma (2014), Oregon (2014), Pennsylvania (2014), Rhode Island (2013), South Carolina (2014), Utah (2014), Vermont (2009), Virginia (2014), Washington (2012), West Virginia (2014), Wisconsin (2014), and West Virginia (2014).