Same-sex unions have been on the political radar in the United States since the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that denying licenses to same-sex partners violated the Hawaii constitution unless there is a "compelling state interest." In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas paved the way for same-sex marriage to emerge as a hot-button political issue. Since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, other states have rushed to either restrict or liberalize their own marriage laws.
This article tracks the status of those laws. It is intended only as a resource for the bottom line current legal status of same-sex unions right now regardless of pending litigation. See same-sex marriage legislation in the United States for the outcome of specific legislation and same-sex marriage legislation in the United States by state for detailed descriptions.
Marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman in at least 42 states. Currently, 27 states have added defense of marriage amendments to their constitutions. There are two states that recognize same-sex marriages, and a total of seven (plus the District of Columbia) that recognize some form of same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships. 
Below is the status of the law in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.
- The Marriage Defined column tells whether that state contains any statutes or constitutional language that defines marriage as between a man and a woman or otherwise bans same-sex marriages.
- The Constitution sub-column gives links to the constitutional amendment story, if existing.
- The Statute leads to the corresponding section of Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States by state to afford full legislation about constitution and statutes. (Under construction, if not afforded, see HRC and Domawatch links below that page).
- The other links (licences - Civil unions status - domestic partnership status - provides for appropriate page denominations according to marriage - civil unions - domestic partnership and shows the existing pages if the link is active. Civil unions denomination is left in the plural form because it is the rule used for other countries (see Category:Marriage, unions and partnerships by country below )
- The details for the marriage recognition (Recogn.) are to be find with the marriage licence link when active. Since a constitutional ban is potentially for a quite long term, the marriage licence and recognition columns have been merged in such case for relevant states.
- Def. means constitutional definition amendment for the corresponding unions or partnership. When it happens to be the same constitutional definition amendment as the link in the Marriage Defined - Constitution column, the Def. and Status columns have been merged. Otherwise another link is proposed to the other relevant amendment in the Def. column in relevant cases.
- The blue squares show what is allowed and green ones, potential changes in nearby future.
- The notes column gives better detail and recent possibilities.
|Defined||Result||Civil Unions||Domestic |
|20px Alaska||Yes||Yes||Banned||No||None||No||None||Petitions are made to start a ban ballot on civil unions too.|
|20px Arizona||Rejected||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Constitutional amendment narrowly rejected by voters 51% to 49%.|
|20px California||No||Struck down (°)||Legal*||Legal||No||None
Same-sex marriage in California
Originally granting only hospital visitation rights, the scope of domestic partnerships was gradually expanded over a three-year period. Taking effect on January 1, 2005, A.B. 205 extended to domestic partnerships virtually all the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage in California. Thus, domestic partnership in California has been effectively transformed into a civil union status.
|20px Colorado||Yes||Yes||Banned||No||None||No||Rejected||On November 2006 ballot, Colorado banned marriage but rejected a referendum to allow a "civil union"-like domestic partnership, sustained by a constitutional amendment. See also this table|
|20px Connecticut||No||Yes||Not legal
|Not legal||No||Legal||?||?||Main article:|
Same-sex marriage in Connecticut
Does not award marriage licenses to same-sex couples but the civil unions confer "all of the state-level spousal rights and responsibilities."
|20px Delaware||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None|
|20px District of Columbia||No||No||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||Legal*||Main article: Domestic partnership in District of Columbia
Enacted 1992; implemented 2002; expanded 2006, 2008
U.S. Congress has ultimate authority over D.C. thereby prohibiting same-sex marriages or civil unions despite popular local support.
|20px Florida||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Petitions are made to start a ban ballot.|
|No||Legal*||Minimal benefits, available to all adults, including relatives; official terminology is reciprocal beneficiary relationship*.|
Bill proposed to afford civil unions but killed in Judiciary Committee.
|20px Illinois||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None but proposed||No||None||Petitions are made to start a ban ballot. Marriage or civil union proposition, heading rather to civil unions.|
|20px Indiana||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Legislative initiative to start a ban ballot.|
|20px Iowa||No||Yes|| legal
|Not legal||No||None||No||None||Main article:|
Same-sex marriage in Iowa
In August 2007, Polk County judge ruled Iowa's statutory ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but ruling was quickly stayed and appealed. Legislative initiative to begin constitutional ban ballot process was unsuccessful in 2008. Those in opposition vow to push the issue in 2009 legislative session.
|20px Maine||No||Yes||Not legal||As dom. partners||No||None||No||Legal*||Main article:|
Domestic partnership in Maine
The Maine Domestic Partnership act came into effect on July 30, 2004.
|20px Maryland||No||Yes||Not legal*||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Main article:|
Same-sex marriage in Maryland
"The first state law defining marriage as a union between a man and woman was adopted by Maryland in 1973."
|20px Massachusetts||No||No||Legal* by
Same-sex marriage in Massachusetts
|20px Minnesota||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Legislative initiative and petitions are made to start a ban ballot.|
|20px New Hampshire||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||Legal on
|No||None||State law pre-dates DOMA.|
The civil unions bill was signed on May 31, 2007.
|20px New Jersey||Proposal
Same-sex marriage in New Jersey
The state of New Jersey has neither allowed nor recognized marriages between couples of the same-sex. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court, in Lewis v. Harris, required the New Jersey Legislature to change state law by April 24, 2007 to afford same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. A bill now allows civil unions that will supersede domestic partnerships. These are no more applied but may remain for the present ones.
|20px New Mexico||No||No||None||None||No||None||No||None||Does not contain any public policy explicitly banning same-sex marriage nor defining marriage as between a man and a woman (effectively making the state neutral).|
|20px New York||No||No||Not
Same-sex marriage in New York
|20px North Carolina||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Legislative initiative to start a ban ballot.|
|20px North Dakota||Yes||Yes||Banned||Banned||No||None|
Same-sex marriage in Oregon
Domestic partnership legislation similar to the California model signed on May 9th, 2007.
|20px Pennsylvania||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Petitions are made to start a ban ballot.|
|20px Rhode Island||No||No||None||Yes||No||None||No||None||Does not contain any public policy explicitly banning same-sex marriage nor defining marriage as between a man and a woman (effectively making the state neutral). Does not award marriage licenses, but does extend limited rights to same-sex couples.. Now this is the basis on which RI will recognize the same-sex couples married in Massachusetts according to the Attorney General.|
|20px South Carolina||Yes||Yes||Banned||Banned||Yes||OK for
|20px South Dakota||Yes||Yes||Banned||Banned||Banned|
|20px Vermont||No||Yes||Not legal
|Not legal||No||Legal||No||None||Vermont civil unions provide same-sex couples access to state-level marriage benefits. Parties to a civil union are entitled to all of the state-level spousal rights and responsibilities and only for couples who live in the state of Vermont.|
A proposition is made to legalize marriage.
|20px Washington||No||Yes||Not legal
|As dom. partners||No||None||No||Legal on
Same-sex marriage in Washington
Same-sex couple who married elsewhere may register their marriage as a domestic partnership.
|20px West Virginia||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||Petitions are made to start a ban ballot.|
|20px Wyoming||No||Yes||Not legal||Not legal||No||None||No||None||State law pre-dates DOMA.|
- Same-sex marriage in the United States
- Same-sex marriage in the United States public opinion
- Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States
- Same-sex marriage legislation in the United States by state
- List of benefits of marriage in the United States
- Defense of Marriage Act
- Marriage Protection Act
- Defense of marriage amendment
- List of defense of marriage amendments to U.S. state constitutions by type
- Federal Marriage Amendment
- Domestic partnerships in the United States
- Freedom to Marry Coalition
- LGBT rights in the United States
- Stateline.org 50-state rundown on gay marriage laws Accessed November 14, 2006
- Human Rights Campaign State by State Information Accessed November 14, 2006
- D.C. Council expands DP law - Washington Blade
Template:Same-sex marriage in the United States Template:USStateLists