First legal same-sex marriage performed in Massachusetts

First legal same-sex marriage performed in Massachusetts


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Marcia Kadish, 56, and Tanya McCloskey, 52, of Malden, Massachusetts, marry at Cambridge City Hall in Massachusetts, becoming the first legally married same-sex partners in the United States. Over the course of the day, 77 other same-sex couples tied the knot across the state, and hundreds more applied for marriage licenses. The day was characterized by much celebration and only a few of the expected protests materialized.

On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Court found the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, ruling that the state could not deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. The decision cited the state constitution’s ban on the creation of second-class citizens. The court then gave the state 180 days in which to change the law. Efforts by some legislators to introduce an amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage, but recognizing civil unions, were defeated.

Same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states on June 26, 2015, after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

READ MORE: The Supreme Court Rulings That Have Shaped Gay Rights in America


Gay Marriage By State 2021

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.


Ten years ago, Massachusetts introduced us to gay marriage

BOSTON -- When Julie and Hillary Goodridge walked into City Hall and applied for a marriage license 10 years ago, they did it with a police escort at their side. As the plaintiffs in the landmark case -- Goodridge v. Department of Public Health -- that brought same-sex marriage to the first state in the country, the Goodridges, six other couples, and their attorney Mary Bonauto broke an historic barrier on May 17, 2004.

A decade later, 17 other states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act which had long deterred other states from following Massachusetts' lead, and gays and lesbians now serve openly in the military without fear of being discharged. President Obama and many elected leaders have come to embrace marriage equality as have a majority of Americans. Just last week, the NFL drafted its first openly gay player.

While many have championed the successful legal strategy that saved same-sex marriage in the state of California, for civil rights activists, it's hard to overstate the importance of Goodridge which set an example for the country in terms of equal rights and the freedom to marry.

“Without Goodridge and Mary Bonauto and what was accomplished there, none of the rest of this would have ever happened,” said Roberta Kaplan, who successfully argued before the Supreme Court in the United States v. Windsor, the case which brought an end to a federal ban on same-sex marriage.

The Goodridges, now divorced, sat down for an interview with msnbc to reflect on the last 10 years for the country and for themselves. They were joined by their daughter Annie, 18.

“It makes me look back again at how much we accomplished, and how much every plaintiff accomplished, and how much every person in Massachusetts accomplished," Julie Goodridge said. Both women recalled the emotional stakes. “We were fighting a huge uphill battle," Hillary Goodridge said. It "felt like it had been 10 minutes ago and look what happened.”

More than 70,000 same-sex couples have married in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. In states that offer some form of legal recognition, 43% of same-sex couples are currently in a legally recognized relationship, according to a 2011 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA, which based its findings on recent census data.

The Goodridges separated in 2006 and divorced in 2009. They remain friends and have worked together raising Annie, who is headed to Oberlin College this Fall.

“We’ve been able to craft around holidays, birthdays, around regular events. Julie and I have really regular contact and obviously it’s really amicable,” said Hillary.

Still, the end of their marriage came as a shock to many friends and supporters, who questioned how it would impact national acceptance for same-sex marriage.


Contents

Historical documents do record numerous examples of same-sex couples living in relationships that functioned as marriages even if they could not be legally sanctified as such. [2] Historian Rachel Hope Cleves documents one such relationship, that of 19th-century Vermont residents Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, in her 2014 book Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America. [2]

Same-sex marriage was, however, rarely mentioned or recognized as a political issue before the 1970s. In August 1953, officials of the U.S Post Office delayed delivery of that month's issue of ONE magazine, with the cover story "Homosexual Marriage?", for three weeks while they tried to determine whether its contents were obscene. [3] Few mentions of the subject have been documented in the decades that followed. [4] [5] In June 1971, members of the Gay Activists Alliance demanded marriage rights for same-sex couples at New York City's Marriage License Bureau. [6] [7]

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in October 1971 that Minnesota's laws prohibiting marriages between same-sex partners did not violate the federal constitution. In October 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the case, Baker v. Nelson, "for want of a substantial federal question." Baker set federal precedent that blocked federal courts from ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage for decades. The next year, the National Coalition of Gay Organizations called for the repeal of all statutes limiting marriage to different-sex couples and for extending the legal benefits of marriage to all cohabiting couples. [8]

Several states enacted bans on same-sex marriage in the late 1970s as well, including Virginia in 1975, [9] and Florida, [10] California, [11] and Wyoming in 1977. [12]

Activist debate Edit

In the late 1980s, activists debated whether marriage rights should be at the forefront of the broader campaign for LGBT equality. Some of the oldest groups saw marriage as a contradiction of the radical origins of the gay rights movement in the sexual liberation movement of the 1960s. Others raised the tactical objection that a step-by step campaign that focused on near-term potential victories like anti-discrimination statutes stood a greater chance of long term success. [ citation needed ] In 1989, as a contribution to this debate, Andrew Sullivan's essay "Here Comes the Groom: A (Conservative) Case for Gay Marriage" appeared in the New Republic. [13] In late 1993, Bruce Bawer in A Place at the Table contended using traditional moral arguments that same-sex relationships merit legal and religious recognition as marriages. He identified himself as part of a "silent majority" of non-radicals unrepresented in media depictions of gay and lesbian life and criticized the gay community for identifying homosexuality with sexual behavior. [14]

The issue of marriage had enough appeal within the gay and lesbian community that in April 1993, as part of the demonstrations surrounding the gay rights march in Washington, D.C., about 1,500 same-sex couples staged a mass wedding ceremony with "a dozen ministers, organ music, photographers and rice" at the National Museum of Natural History to call for marriage rights for gays and lesbians. [15]

Hawaii and reaction Edit

The Hawaii case of Baehr v. Miike attracted national attention when the Hawaii Supreme Court on May 5, 1993, ordered a trial court to consider whether the state could demonstrate that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples "furthers compelling state interests and is narrowly drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgments of constitutional rights." [16]

Congressional reaction to that ruling, partly in anticipation of the approaching presidential election, resulted in the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal recognition of same-sex marriages. President Bill Clinton signed it into law on September 21, 1996. [17] In November 1998, Hawaii voters approved a state constitutional amendment allowing their legislature to ban same-sex marriage, [18] [a] and Alaska voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. [19]

Lawrence v. Texas Edit

In parallel with the campaign for same-sex marriage, LGBT civil rights gained legal recognition. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas' "Homosexual Conduct" law in Lawrence v. Texas. [20] The ruling rendered same-sex sodomy laws in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri and broader sodomy laws in nine other states unenforceable. [21]

On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples violated the Massachusetts Constitution. [22] Massachusetts became the first United States jurisdiction to license and recognize same-sex marriages beginning May 17, 2004. [23] [24]

In February and March 2004, city officials in San Francisco issued marriage licenses to about 4000 same-sex couples before being ordered to stop by the California Supreme Court. [25] On February 20, 2004, the clerk in Sandoval County, New Mexico, issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples for a day until the state attorney general issued an opinion that they were "invalid under state law". [26] Similar actions occurred in New Paltz, New York (February 27) Multnomah County, Oregon (March 3) and Asbury Park, New Jersey (March 8). [27]

On November 2, 2004, voters in eleven states–Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah–approved state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. [28] Kansas did so on April 5, 2005, [29] as did Texas voters on November 8 of that year. [30]

The adverse reactions continued in 2006. Alabama voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman on June 6. [31] Voters in Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin adopted similar amendments on election day, November 7. [32] [33] The only exception that day was Arizona, where voters rejected an initiative banning the recognition same-sex marriages and civil unions. [34]

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger twice vetoed legislation that would have made same-sex marriage legal there, in September 2005 [35] and October 2007. [36]

Decision and reversal in California Edit

On May 15, 2008, the Supreme Court of California issued a decision that legalized same-sex marriage in California, holding that California's existing opposite-sex definition of marriage violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples. [37] To overturn the decision, opponents of same-sex marriage placed a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot. [38] Known as Proposition 8, it passed in November 2008, ending the licensing and recognition of same-sex marriages in California after less than six months. [39]

In two more states, Arizona and Florida, voters approved constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. [40]

Court ruling: Connecticut Edit

On October 10, 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the state's civil unions statute discriminated against same-sex couples and required the state to recognize same-sex marriages. [41] On November 12, 2008, the first marriage licenses to same-sex couples were issued and the following year, the state enacted gender-neutral marriage legislation. [42]

National political parties Edit

In August and September, the national political parties addressed same-sex marriage in their party platforms. The Democratic National Convention adopted a platform that "oppose[s]the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us" and suggested support for same-sex marriage: "We support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits, and protections." [43] The Republican National Convention platform said that judges are "undermining traditional marriage laws", endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment and state initiatives that support "traditional marriage", and referenced "the right of states not to recognize same-sex 'marriages'". [44]

Court decision: Iowa Edit

On April 3, 2009, a unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruling upheld a lower court ruling in Varnum v. Brien that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples violated the state constitution, [45] and licenses became available on April 27. [46] In the next judicial retention elections in November 2010, Iowa voters removed three of the justices that participated in the Varnum decision, [47] following a campaign by groups opposed to same-sex marriage including the National Organization for Marriage. [48]

Legislation: Vermont, New Hampshire, District of Columbia Edit

On April 7, 2009, Vermont legalized same-sex marriage through legislation. The Governor of Vermont had previously vetoed the measure, but the veto was overridden by the Legislature. Vermont was the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage through legislative means rather than litigation.

On June 3, 2009, New Hampshire by enacting legislation became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, [49] effective January 1, 2010. [50]

On December 18, 2009, the Council of the District of Columbia enacted legislation legalizing same-sex marriage [51] and same-sex marriage licenses became available on March 3, 2010. [52]

Enactment and reversal in Maine Edit

On May 6, 2009, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, becoming the first state governor to do so. [53] Nonetheless, the legislation was stayed pending a vote and never went into effect. It was repealed by referendum in November 2009. [ citation needed ]

Respect for Marriage Act Edit

In September 2009, several Democratic members of Congress proposed legislation to repeal DOMA. Barney Frank opposed the move because he thought its enactment impossible. [54] Nancy Pelosi had warned earlier in the year that the legislative calendar had no room for the issue. [55]

As of January 2010 [update] , 29 states had constitutional provisions restricting marriage to one man and one woman, while 12 others had statutes that did so. [56] Nineteen states banned any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage. [57] Voters had approved 28 out of 30 popular referenda in which states asked voters to adopt a constitutional amendment or initiative defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. [b] Arizonans voted down one such amendment in 2006, [58] but approved a different amendment to that effect in 2008. [59]

Legislation: New York Edit

On June 24, 2011, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the state's Marriage Equality Act into law. [60] [c] It took effect a month later. [62]

Legislation: Washington, Maryland Edit

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed same-sex marriage legislation into law on February 13, 2012. [63] Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley did the same on March 1. [64]

National politics Edit

The Republican National Convention approved a platform that asserts the right of the federal government and each state to deny legal recognition to same-sex marriages and endorsed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. [65] The Democratic National Convention adopted a political platform that supported marriage equality for the first time in its history and opposed all constitutional amendments that would exclude same-sex couples from marriage. [66]

Balloting results Edit

On May 8, 2012, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage as well as all other types of same-sex unions. [67] [d]

In the regular November 2012 elections, voters for the first time approved the legalization of same-sex marriage by popular vote in three states: Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Maine's law took effect on December 29, 2012. [68] Maryland started allowing same-sex marriages on January 1, 2013, [69] [e] In Washington state, the first licenses were distributed on December 6, with the first marriages on December 9 following the mandatory three-day waiting period. [71] [72] In the same election, Minnesota rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. [73] [f]

United States v. Windsor Edit

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5–4 decision in United States v. Windsor, ruling Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional "as a deprivation of the equal liberty . protected by the Fifth Amendment." [74] The decision was widely quoted by both sides in same-sex marriage lawsuits.

Court rulings: California, New Jersey, New Mexico Edit

On August 4, 2010, a decision by a U.S. District Court in Perry v. Schwarzenegger ruled that California's Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. [75] The Supreme Court dismissed the case for lack of standing on June 26, 2013, [76] after which the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples resumed on June 28, 2013. [77]

New Jersey began issuing same-sex marriage licenses on October 21, 2013, following a September 27 state superior court decision that found an equal protection right of same-sex couples to marry. It reasoned that with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent action in United States v. Windsor, couples in New Jersey civil unions lacked access to federal benefits they could now receive if married. [78] [g] Governor Chris Christie, who had vetoed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in February 2012, [80] filed an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court, but withdrew it after the court refused to stay the lower court's ruling. [81]

Eight New Mexico counties, either on the basis of a court decision or their clerks' own volition, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in August 2013. [82] On December 19, 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that same-sex marriage would be permitted throughout the state, effective immediately. [83]

State legislation: Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, Hawaii, Illinois Edit

Several jurisdictions enacted same-sex marriage in 2013. Rhode Island enacted legislation on May 2, which took effect August 1 [84] Delaware enacted legislation on May 7, which took effect July 1 [85] and Minnesota enacted legislation on May 14, which took effect August 1. [86] In October and November 2013, the Hawaii legislature enacted legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, which Governor Neil Abercrombie signed on November 13. The law took effect on December 2, 2013. [87] Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage on November 20, [88] effective June 1, 2014, though in practice marriage licenses became widely available to same-sex couples in March. [h]

Utah court ruling and subsequent stay Edit

On December 20, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby found Utah's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in Kitchen v. Herbert. [93] Salt Lake County began issuing marriage licenses immediately, followed by other counties, [94] until the state obtained a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court on January 6, 2014. [95]

On January 10, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government would recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who married in Utah between December 20, 2013, and January 6, 2014. [96]

Court decisions: Oregon and Pennsylvania Edit

On May 19, 2014, U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane ruled in Geiger v. Kitzhaber that Oregon's voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. [97] He ordered marriages to begin immediately and Governor John Kitzhaber applauded the decision. [98] The National Organization for Marriage sought without success to intervene to seek a stay and appeal the decision. [98] [99]

On May 20, 2014, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban in his ruling in Whitewood v. Wolf. [100] [i] Governor Tom Corbett said he would not appeal the court decision, allowing same-sex marriages to be licensed in Pennsylvania. [102] One county clerk has tried repeatedly to intervene in the lawsuit until U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Circuit Justice for the Third Circuit, denied the clerk's application for a stay on July 8, 2014, and the Third Circuit denied the clerk's petition to rehear her case for intervention on August 4, 2014. [103]

Louisiana ban upheld Edit

On September 3, District Judge Martin Feldman ruled against the plaintiff same-sex couples in Robicheaux v. Caldwell, upholding Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage. [104] It was the first decision of a federal court since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Windsor in June 2013 to uphold the constitutionality of a state ban on same-sex marriage. [105]

U.S. Supreme Court declines cases Edit

On October 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take action on all five cases it had been asked to consider from appellate courts in the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits, allowing the circuit court decisions striking down marriage bans to stand. [106]

States with cases at issue: Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah Edit

The Supreme Court's action allowed the decisions of the lower courts to take effect. It resulted in the prompt legalization of same-sex marriage in several states with cases at issue:

  • Fourth Circuit: Virginia [107][j]
  • Seventh Circuit: [k] Indiana [l] and Wisconsin [m]
  • Tenth Circuit: Oklahoma [n] and Utah [o]

Other states in the affected circuits: Colorado, West Virginia, North Carolina, Wyoming, South Carolina, Kansas Edit

Same-sex marriage bans were expected to end in six other states in the three circuits affected by the Supreme Court's action. [123] –Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming–but at first officials in South Carolina, Wyoming, and Kansas said they would continue to defend their states' bans. [124]

In Colorado, Attorney General John Suthers asked the Tenth Circuit to dismiss his appeal and lift its stay in Burns v. Hickenlooper. He asked the State Supreme Court to lift a stay preventing certain clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Both courts lifted their stays on October 7, 2014, and Suthers ordered all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [125] [p]

In West Virginia, on October 9, Governor Ray Tomblin announced he was ordering state agencies to act in compliance with the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in ''Bostic v Schaefer'' on the unconstitutionality of same-sex marriage bans. [128]

In North Carolina, District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., ruling in General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper on October 10, 2014, struck down North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage, citing the Fourth Circuit's ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer. [129] Some North Carolina clerks began issuing marriage license to same-sex couple immediately. [130]

In Wyoming, on October 17, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled for the plaintiff same-sex couples in Guzzo v. Mead, but stayed enforcement of his ruling until October 23 or until the defendants informed the court that they will not appeal to the Tenth Circuit. The stay was lifted on October 21 when the state notified the court it would not appeal, ending enforcement of Wyoming's ban on same-sex marriage. [131]

In South Carolina, on November 12, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ruled South Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in Condon v. Haley. He issued a temporary stay of his ruling, which took effect on November 20 [132] after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to extend it. [133] [q]

As of February 2015, Kansas remains the only state in the circuits affected by the Supreme Court's October 6 refusal to grant cert to continue to enforce in large measure its denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples. Many judges of the state's district courts issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Some began doing so based on their reading of Tenth Circuit precedent, others a few weeks later on the basis on a ruling against Kansas' ban on same-sex marriage issued on November 4, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree in Marie v. Moser, [136] following Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's failure to win a stay of that ruling from the Tenth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. [137] A Kansas Supreme Court decision in a state case, State v. Moriarty, affirmed the right of a circuit judge to determine the validity of the state's ban. [138] The state contends that it need only recognize licenses issued in the two counties whose officials were named in the federal lawsuit and subject to the order issued in that case.

Ninth Circuit decision Edit

States with cases at issue Edit

On October 7, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in two cases, overturning a district court in Nevada that had found that state's ban on same-sex marriage constitutional and affirming the decision of a district court in Idaho that had found that state's ban unconstitutional. [139] [r] Following precedent in that circuit, it reviewed the states' bans against a higher standard than used by other courts, "heightened scrutiny". [s] Idaho Governor Butch Otter announced the state would no longer attempt to preserve the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, though he continued without success to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court. [144] On October 13, 2014, the Ninth Circuit lifted the stay it had imposed in Latta v. Otter, allowing the district court decision to take effect, preventing further enforcement of Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage as of October 15, 2014. [145]

Other states in the Ninth Circuit: Alaska, Arizona, and Montana Edit

  • Alaska. On October 12, 2014, Judge Timothy M. Burgess ruled that Alaska's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional and issued an injunction to prevent state officials from continuing to enforce it. [146] The head of the state Bureau of Vital Statistics said, "We expect our office will be busy tomorrow, (October 13) but we will make every effort to help customers as quickly as possible." [147]
  • Arizona. On October 17, 2014, U.S. District Judge John W. Sedwick declared Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and enjoined the state from enforcing its ban, effective immediately. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said the state would not appeal the ruling and instructed county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [148]
  • Montana. On November 19, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled Montana's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in Rolando v. Fox, immediately legalizing same-sex marriage there [149]

Sixth Circuit decision Edit

On November 6, 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, upheld the same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. [150] The cases were:

In Kentucky, on February 12, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn declared Kentucky's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional. [151] On February 27, he ordered the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, [152] but the next day he stayed that order until March 20, [153] and on March 19, he stayed it pending action by the Sixth Circuit. [154] On July 1, a judge ruled in Love v. Beshear that Kentucky's refusal to license same-sex marriages was unconstitutional and stayed that ruling. [155]

In Michigan, on March 21, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard A. Friedman found Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. He did not stay enforcement of his decision. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed an emergency request with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay pending appeal. [156] Hundreds of same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses and some married in Michigan on the morning of March 22 before the appeals court temporarily stayed enforcement of the ruling. On March 26, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said the Sixth Circuit's stay meant that "the rights tied to these marriages are suspended". [157] On January 15, 2015, U.S. District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith ruled in Caspar v. Snyder that Michigan must recognize the validity of more than 300 marriages of same-sex couples married the previous March in the time between a district court found the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed that ruling. [158]

The same-sex couples in all these cases asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review them, and the state officials in Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio who had won in the Sixth Circuit endorsed those requests in order to have a Supreme Court ruling on the subject of same-sex marriage. [ citation needed ]

Decisions being appealed: Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri Edit

In Missouri, on November 5, 2014, a state judge in St. Louis ruled Missouri's ban unconstitutional. [159] Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced plans to appeal the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court, but not to seek a stay of the ruling's implementation because "[f]ollowing decisions in Idaho and Alaska, the United States Supreme Court has refused to grant stays on identical facts." [160] The ruling directed St. Louis to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and the city's marriage license department immediately complied. [161] St. Louis County, where an official said "We believe it's a county-by-county decision", [162] began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples the next day. [163] Koster and the Recorders' Association of Missouri said the decision only applied to the city of St. Louis. [162] On November 7, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in Lawson v. Jackson County that Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. He stayed enforcement of his ruling pending appeal, and the Attorney General announced plans to appeal to the Eighth Circuit. [164] In Jackson County, which includes Kansas City, officials began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples the same day. [165]

On November 25, 2014, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker struck down Arkansas' ban on same-sex marriage in Jernigan v. Crane, and she stayed enforcement of her ruling pending appeal. [166]

On November 25, 2014, in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves found Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and issued a 14-day stay, [167] and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay pending appeal on December 4. [168]

Florida Edit

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, ruling in Brenner v. Scott, had found Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on August 21, 2014, and stayed enforcement pending further appeals. [169] [t] On December 19, the U.S. Supreme Court refused the extend his stay, the first time that the Supreme Court refused to stay a marriage equality ruling by a district court in a circuit that had not yet ruled on the issue of same-sex marriage.

On January 1, 2015, after he had been challenged by some court clerks who believed he could not use the case to require them to license same-sex marriages, Judge Hinkle explained the scope of his injunction in Brenner v. Scott, writing that the Constitution rather than his order authorizes all Florida clerks to issue licenses to same-sex couples and that while clerks are free to interpret his ruling differently they should anticipate lawsuits if they fail to issue such licenses. [171] In response, the law firm advising the Florida Association of Court Clerks reversed its earlier position and recommended that all clerks issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [172] [u] Same-sex marriage became legal throughout Florida when Hinkle's injunction took effect on January 6. [174]

U.S. Supreme Court accepts cases Edit

On January 16, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear four cases on appeal from the Sixth Circuit, consolidating them as one and setting a briefing schedule to be completed April 17. The cases were: Obergefell v. Hodges (Ohio), Tanco v. Haslam (Tennessee), DeBoer v. Snyder (Michigan), and Bourke v. Beshear (Kentucky). [175] Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would file an amicus brief in the case asking the court to "make marriage equality a reality for all Americans". [176] The Court refused a request for certiorari before judgment in a Louisiana case, Robicheaux v. Caldwell, on January 12. [177]

In the weeks that followed, some federal courts suspended proceedings while awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals did so in cases from Florida case, Brenner v. Scott, Georgia, Inniss v. Aderhold, and Alabama, Searcy v. Strange. [178] A U.S. district court did so in North Dakota, Ramsay v. Dalrymple. [179]

Alabama Edit

On January 23, 2015 U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade ruled in Searcy v. Strange that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. On January 25, Judge Granade stayed her ruling for 14 days to allow the state to seek a longer stay from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. [180] A stay was denied by both the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. [181] [182] On January 27, Judge Granade ruled in a second lawsuit, Strawser v. Strange in favor of a male couple seeking the right to marry on Alabama. She stayed her ruling to coincide with her stay in Searcy. [183] With a conflicting order from the Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ordering county clerks to not comply with the federal rulings, the Probate Judges Association acknowledged that the order in Searcy, if lifted, requires them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and said it would encourage its members to comply. [184] A week after the rulings went into effect, the majority of counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [185] [186]

On March 3, 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered all counties in the state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [187]

Granade issued an injunction on May 21, 2015, clarifying that her order for same-sex marriage applied statewide. However, she stayed the ruling pending the outcome of Obergefell v. Hodges at the U.S. Supreme Court. [188]

Guam Edit

The Pacific island of Guam was set to be the first U.S. territory to offer legal same-sex marriage after Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, Guam's attorney general, directed the territorial Department of Public Health and Social Services to begin processing same-sex marriage licenses on April 15, 2015. [189] However, the department director and Governor Eddie Calvo pushed back on Barrett-Anderson's directive, which they said was not binding. [190]

In May, the Guam District Court denied territorial officials' request to delay the case until the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell. [191]

Decided on June 26, 2015 in a 5-4 decision, Obergefell requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions. [192] This held all state same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional and legalized same-sex marriage in all remaining states.

The decision came on the second anniversary of the United States v. Windsor ruling that struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal recognition of same-sex marriages. It also came on the twelfth anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas which struck down sodomy laws in 13 states. Each justice's opinion on Obergefell was consistent with their opinion in Windsor. In both cases, Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion and was considered the "swing vote". [193]


A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States

  • 1970 - A same-sex couple in Minnesota applies for a marriage license. They are denied and their case goes to the state Supreme Court.
  • 1973 - Maryland becomes the first state to ban same-sex marriage
  • 1976 - a non-church sanctioned gay wedding makes news
  • 1983 - 'spousal' rights of same-sex couples become an issue - a lesbian couple is confronted with the spousal rights issue when one of them is in a car accident and the other is denied the right to care for her.
  • 1984 - Berkeley, CA passes the nation's first domestic partnership law
  • 1987 - first mass same-sex wedding ceremony - occurs on the National Mall - nearly 2000 same-sex marriages take place
  • 1989 - court rulings in NY and CA define same-sex couples as families
  • 1992 - same-sex employees begin to receive domestic partner benefits from Levi Strauss & Co. and the state of Mass.
  • 1993 - the Hawaii Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriages cannot be denied unless there is a "compelling" reason to do so - Hawaii legislators respond by passing an amendment to ban gay marriage
  • 1995 - Utah governor signs a state DOMA statute into law
  • 1996 - President Clinton signs the federal DOMA
  • 1997 - Hawaii becomes the first state to offer domestic partnership benefits to same sex couples
  • 1998 - Alaskan and Hawaiian voters approve state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage
  • 1999 - Vermont's Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples must receive the same benefits and protections as any other married couple under the Vermont Constitution
  • 2000 - the Central Conference of American Rabbis agrees to allow religious ceremonies for same-sex couples while Vermont becomes the first state to pass a law granting the full benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. Nebraska voters approve a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage
  • 2002 - Nevada votes to approve a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage
  • 2003 - A proposed amendment to the federal Constitution is introduced to the House of Representatives. It would define marriage as only between a man and a woman. The U.S. Supreme Court decides Lawrence v. Texas, striking down sodomy law and enshrining a broad constitutional right to sexual privacy. California passes a domestic partnership law which provides same-sex partners with almost all the rights and responsibilities as spouses in civil marriages. President Bush states that he wants marriage reserves for heterosexuals and the Massachusetts Supreme Court hands down a decision that makes Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage.
  • 2004 - The city of San Francisco begins marrying same-sex couples in an open challenge to CA law and New Mexico begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as their law does not mention gender. Portland, Oregon also begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A poll taken by the Washington Post shows that 51% of the country favors allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions. While San Francisco is told to halt same-sex unions, Oregon takes the more drastic step of halting all marriages until the state decides who can and cannot wed. The proposed constitutional amendment with the same-sex ban dies in the U.S. Senate after testimony against it from conservative politicians. Missouri votes to ban same-sex marriage. Washington state says yes to same-sex marriage in a court decision while the California Supreme Court voids same-sex marriages. Several states pass initiatives to ban same-sex marriages.
  • 2005 - In New York, a state judge calls the state ban on same-sex marriage illegal. California's legislature attempts to pass a law legalizing same-sex unions but it is vetoed by the governor. Connecticut becomes the second state to approve same-sex unions.
  • 2006 - The New Jersey Supreme Court orders the legislature to recognize same-sex unions.
  • 2008 - California's Supreme Court overturns the ban on gay marriage. This leads to California voters approving a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Florida and Arizona voters do the same.
  • 2009 - The Iowa Supreme Court overturns the state ban on same-sex marriage. Vermont's legislature legalizes same-sex marriages. Maine and New Hampshire follow suit, though Maine voters later repeal the state law allowing same-sex marriage.
  • 2010 - California's voter-passed ban on same-sex marriage from 2008, known as Prop 8, is declared unconstitutional.
  • 2011 - President Obama declares DOMA unconstitutional. New York legalizes same-sex marriage.
  • 2012 - The Ninth Circuit finds Prop 8 unconstitutional. Washington state, Maine, and Maryland legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
  • 2013 - Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Mexico legalize same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court finds Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. It also decides the Prop 8 defenders lack standing, clearing the way for same-sex unions to be legalized in California. The IRS recognizes same-sex married couples. Utah's same-sex marriage ban is found unconstitutional.
  • 2014 - Oregon, Pennsylvania, Kansas, and South Carolina legalize same-sex marriage. The Presbyterian church votes to allow same-sex ceremonies. The U.S. Supreme Court decides a case that allows for same-sex marriage in 5 states (VA, OK, UT, WI, and IN) but declines to make a blanket statement for all states.
  • 2015 - The U.S. Supreme Court makes same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states in Obergefell v. Hodges.

It is only fitting to end this timeline with the following quote from that decision:

&ldquoNo 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.&rdquo


State-by-State History of Banning and Legalizing Gay Marriage

Alabama* (Feb. 9, 2015), Alaska (Oct. 17, 2014), Arizona (Oct. 17, 2014), California (June 28, 2013), Colorado (Oct. 7, 2014), Connecticut (Nov. 12, 2008), Florida (Jan. 6, 2015), Idaho (Oct. 13, 2014), Indiana (Oct. 6, 2014), Iowa (Apr. 24, 2009), Kansas (Nov. 12, 2014), Massachusetts (May 17, 2004), Montana (Nov. 19, 2014), Nevada (Oct. 9, 2014), New Jersey (Oct. 21, 2013), New Mexico (Dec. 19, 2013), North Carolina (Oct. 10, 2014), Oklahoma (Oct. 6, 2014), Oregon (May 19, 2014), Pennsylvania (May 20, 2014), South Carolina (Nov. 20, 2014), Utah (Oct. 6, 2014), Virginia (Oct. 6, 2014), West Virginia (Oct. 9, 2014), Wisconsin (Oct. 6, 2014), Wyoming (Oct. 21, 2014)

*On Mar. 3, 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the state’s 68 probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite an earlier federal court ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, and the US Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriages to proceed in the state. The state Supreme Court gave probate judges five days to respond if they do not feel they have to follow the order.

by State Legislature

Delaware (July 1, 2013), Hawaii (Dec. 2, 2013), Illinois (June 1, 2014), Minnesota (Aug. 1, 2013), New Hampshire (Jan. 1, 2010), New York (July 24, 2011), Rhode Island (Aug. 1, 2013), Vermont (Sep. 1, 2009)

by Popular Vote

Maine (Dec. 29, 2012), Maryland (Jan. 1, 2013), Washington (Dec. 9, 2012)

Washington, DC legalized gay marriage on Mar. 3, 2010, the date marriage licenses became available to same-sex couples.

States with Same-Sex Marriage Bans Prior to the June 26, 2015 Supreme Court Ruling

by Constitutional Amendment and State Law

Arkansas (2004, 1997), Georgia (2004, 1996), Kentucky (2004, 1998), Louisiana (2004, 1999), Michigan (2004, 1996), Mississippi (2004, 1997), Missouri (2004, 1996), North Dakota (2004, 1997), Ohio (2004, 2004), South Dakota (2006, 1996), Tennessee (2006, 1996), Texas (2005, 1997)

by Constitutional Amendment only

States where gay marriage bans had been overturned, but where appeals were in progress prior to the June 26, 2015 Supreme Court ruling

  1. ARKANSAS – On May 9, 2014, Arkansas’ gay marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza. Arkansas had previously banned gay marriage by both state law and voter-approved constitutional amendment. Some Arkansas counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on May 10, 2014, while other counties refused to issue licenses. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel requested that the State Supreme Court put a stay on Judge Piazza’s ruling, but the request was denied on May 14, 2014. The Supreme Court effectively halted gay marriages from taking place, however, by noting that while Judge Piazza’s ruling had struck down both the constitutional amendment and the state law, it had not affected an additional state law prohibiting county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. 456 licenses had been issued in total. On May 15, 2014, Judge Piazza expanded his ruling to strike down the additional law and any other measures that made gay marriage illegal, but on May 16, 2014 the State Supreme Court suspended that ruling, halting all gay marriages within the state. On Nov. 25, 2014, US District Judge Kristine Baker ruled the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but stayed her own ruling, pending expected appeals.
  2. KENTUCKY – On July 1, 2014, US District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that Kentucky’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage violates the equal protection clause in the US Constitution. Judge Heyburn stated that the ban serves “no conceivable legitimate purpose,” but stayed his own decision, pending the state’s appeal. On Nov. 6, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Heyburn’s ruling 2-1, thus upholding the state’s gay marriage ban. An appeal was then filed with the US Supreme Court. On Apr. 16, 2015, Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but put his ruling on hold, pending the Supreme Court’s decision.
  3. MICHIGAN – On Mar. 21, 2014, a federal judge ruled Michigan’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. US District Judge Bernard Friedman wrote that “Today’s decision… affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.” Around 300 same-sex couples received marriage licenses before the US 6th Court of Appeals issued a stay on the decision on Mar. 22, 2014, making same-sex marriage illegal again in Michigan, pending the appeal process. On Mar. 28, 2014, US Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the marriages performed prior to the stay being issued would be recognized by the federal government: “These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.” On Nov. 6, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Friedman’s ruling 2-1, thus upholding the state’s gay marriage ban. An appeal to either the full bench of the court or directly to the US Supreme Court is expected.
  4. MISSISSIPPI – On Nov. 25, 2014, US District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but stayed his own ruling, pending expected appeals.
  5. MISSOURI – On Nov. 5, 2014, St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison ruled that the state’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. The ruling only applies to St. Louis, where same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses shortly after the decision. On Nov. 7, 2014, US District Judge Ortrie D. Smith also ruled that the state’s ban is unconstitutional, but stayed his own ruling. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced that he will appeal the ruling to the Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals.
  6. NEBRASKA – On Mar. 2, 2015, US District Judge Joseph Bataillon declared Nebraska’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, describing it as an “unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens.” Same-sex marriages are set to go ahead on Mar. 9, 2015 unless the state’s appeal to the Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals is successful.
  7. SOUTH DAKOTA – On Jan. 12, 2015, US District Judge Karen Schreier ruled South Dakota’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, stating that “Plaintiffs have a fundamental right to marry… South Dakota law deprives them of that right solely because they are same-sex couples and without sufficient justification.” The ruling was put on hold pending the state’s appeal to the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
  8. TEXAS – On Feb. 26, 2014, a federal judge ruled Texas’ gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Judge Orlando Garcia wrote “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuges in our U.S. Constitution.” He then stayed his own decision pending an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, leaving same-sex marriage illegal in Texas. On Feb. 17, 2015, Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman also ruled the ban unconstitutional, but did not order county clerks to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples. On Feb. 19, 2015, two Austin women were married after state District Judge David Wahlberg ordered an exception be made to Texas’ gay marriage ban because one of the women had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Associated Press, “Appeals Court Halts Gay Marriages in Alaska,” usatoday.com, Oct. 15, 2014

Associated Press, “Federal Judge Strikes Down SC Gay Marriage Ban,” washingtonpost.com, Nov. 12, 2014

Associated Press, “Judge Rules SD Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional,” nytimes.com, Jan. 12, 2015

Associated Press, “Justice Kennedy Blocks Gay Marriage Ruling for Idaho, Nevada,” usatoday.com, Oct. 8, 2014

Associated Press, “Kentucky Judge Rejects State’s Gay Marriage Ban,” time.com, Apr. 16, 2015

Associated Press, “‘We’re Walking on Clouds’: Gay Marriages Begin in Nevada,” nbcnews.com, Oct. 9, 2014

Saeed Ahmed, “Judge Overturns Alaska’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban That Dates to 1998,” cnn.com, Oct. 13, 2014

Curt Anderson, “Federal Judge Rules Florida Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional, but Delays Issuing of Licenses,” ap.org, Aug. 21, 2014

Curt Anderson, “Judge Won’t Lift Fla. Keys Gay Marriage Stay,” ap.org, July 21, 2014

Curt Anderson, “Ruling Allows Same-Sex Marriages for Florida Keys,” ap.org, July 17, 2014

Joseph Ax and Edith Honan, “New Jersey Judge Allows Same-Sex Marriage,” reuters.com, Sep. 27, 2013

David Bailey, “Minnesota Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Gay Marriage,” reuters.com, May 14, 2013

David Bailey and Kevin Murphy, “Kansas Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional: Judge,” reuters.com, Nov. 4, 2014

Robert Barnes, “Federal Judge Strikes Down Va. Ban on Gay Marriage,” washingtonpost.com, Feb. 14, 2014

Steve Barnes and Emily Le Coz, “U.S. Judges Overturn Gay Marriage Bans in Arkansas, Mississippi,” reuters.com, Nov. 26, 2014

Eve Batey, “Farewell Prop 8: SF City Attorney Vows to Litigate Aggressively to Ensure Marriage Equality for California,” www.sfappeal.com, June 26, 2013

Barb Berggoetz, “Indiana Won’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed Last Month,” indystar.com, July 9, 2014

Greg Botelho, “Same-Sex Marriages on Hold in Idaho, Given Go-Ahead in Arkansas,” cnn.com, May 15, 2014

Greg Botelho and Bill Mears, “Texas Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Struck Down by Federal Judge,” cnn.com, Feb. 27, 2014

Cable News Network (CNN), “Same-Sex Marriage in the United States,” cnn.com, Oct. 14, 2014

Cable News Network (CNN) staff, “Federal Judge Overturns Montana’s Ban on Same-Sex marriage,” cnn.com, Nov. 19, 2014

Cindy Carcomo, “New Mexico Becomes Latest State to Legalize Gay Marriage,” latimes.com, Dec. 19, 2013

Bill Chappell, “Alabama Courts Issue First Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples,” npr.org, Feb. 9, 2015

Bill Chappell, “Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Legal in All 50 States,” npr.org, June 26, 2015

Andrew DeMillo, “Arkansas High Court Suspends Gay Marriage Ruling,” ap.org, May 16, 2014

Andrew DeMillo and Christiana Huynh, “Judge Strikes All Arkansas Bans on Gay Marriage,” ap.org, May 15, 2014

Doug Denison, “Gay Marriage in Delaware to Become Legal July 1,” www.delawareonline.com, May 7, 2013

Lyle Denniston, “Same-Sex Marriage May Go Ahead in Kansas,” scotusblog.com, Nov. 12, 2014

Lyle Denniston, “Sixth Circuit: Now, a Split on Same-Sex Marriage,” scotusblog.com, Nov. 6, 2014

Erik Eckholm, “Same-Sex Marriage Gains Cheer Gay Rights Advocates,” www.nytimes.com, Nov. 7, 2012

Erik Eckholm, “Oklahoma’s Ban on Gay Marriage Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules,” www.nytimes.com, Jan. 14, 2014

Zachary Fagenson, “State Judge Strikes Down Florida’s Gay Marriage Ban, Stays Ruling,” reuters.com, July 25, 2014

Zack Ford, “Federal Judge Orders Indiana to Recognize Terminally Ill Woman’s Same-Sex Marriage,” thinkprogress.org, Apr. 10, 2014

Andrew M. Francis, Hugo M. Mialon, and Handoe Peng, “In Sickness and in Health: Same Sex Marriage Laws and Sexually Transmitted Infections, Appendix: Legal References and Notes,” Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No 11-97, www.emory.edu (accessed Aug. 10, 2012)

Human Rights Campaign, “Marriage Center,” www.hrc.org (accessed Aug. 10, 2012)

Lawrence Hurley, “Supreme Court Allows Gay Marriage to Proceed in South Carolina,” reuters.com, Nov. 20, 2014

Brendan Kirby, “Federal Appeals Court Denies Alabama’s Bid to Extend Delay on Same-Sex Marriages,” al.com, Feb. 3, 2015

Rachel La Corte, “Washington Voters Approve Gay Marriage,” Associated Press, Nov. 9, 2012

Lambda Legal, “In Your State,” www.lamdbalegal.org (accessed Aug. 10, 2012)

William P. LaPiana, “Domestic Partnership Chart,” www.actec.org (accessed Aug. 10, 2012)

Miranda Leitsinger, “Same-Sex Marriage on Hold Temporarily in Alabama: Judge,” nbcnews.com, Jan. 25, 2015

Chuck Lindell, “Travis County Clerk Issues First Legal Gay Marriage License in Texas,” Austin American-Statesman website, Feb. 19, 2015

Tom LoBianco, “Court Puts Indiana Gay Marriage Ruling on Hold,” ap.org, June 27, 2014

Marriage Law Foundation, “Marriage Statutes,” www.marriagelawfoundation.org (accessed Aug. 10, 2012)

Bob Moen, Associated Press, “Wyoming Becomes Latest to Legalize Gay Marriage,” abcnews.go.com, Oct. 21, 2014

Michael Muskal and Maura Dolan, “As Colorado Issues Gay Marriage Licenses, 9th Circuit Joins Chorus,” latimes.com, Oct. 7, 2014

National Conference of State Legislatures, “Child Support and Family Law,” www.ncsl.org (accessed Aug. 10, 2012)

Scott Neuman, “Federal Court Rules Against Missouri’s Gay Marriage Ban,” npr.org, Nov. 7, 2014

Brendan O’Brien, “Gay Marriage on Hold in Wisconsin Pending Appeal,” reuters.com, June 13, 2014

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

Evan Perez and Tom Cohen, “Holder: Government to Recognize Michigan Gay Marriages,” cnn.com, Mar. 28, 2014

Adam Polaski, “Federal Judge Rules in Missouri, Paving Way for the Freedom to Marry in Show Me State,” freedomtomarry.org, Nov. 7, 2014

Adam Polaski, “St. Louis, Missouri to Begin Issuing Marriage Licenses after Victory in State Court,” freedomtomarry.org, Nov. 5, 2014

Lauren Raab, “Texas’ Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional, County Judge Rules,” latimes.com, Feb. 17, 2015

Lauren Raab, “Third Judge Finds Florida’s Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional,” latimes.com, Aug. 4, 2014

Nicholas Riccardi, “Court Rules for Gay Marriage in Oklahoma Case,” ap.org, July 18, 2014

Nicholas Riccardi, “Judge: Gay Couples Can Keep Marrying in Colorado,” ap.org, July 10, 2014

Katharine Q. Seelye, “Rhode Island Joins States That Allow Gay Marriage,” www.nytimes.com, May 2, 2013

Cynthia Sewell, “Otter May Continue Fight to Stop Gay Marriage,” idahostatesman.com, Oct. 13, 2014

Maya Srikrishnan, “Denver Clerk Joins Boulder in Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses,” latimes.com, July 10, 2014

Jordan Steffen, “Adams Judge Tosses Colorado Gay Marriage Ban but Stays Ruling,” denverpost.com, July 9, 2014

Jordan Steffen, “Colorado Supreme Court, Suthers Clear Way for Same-Sex Licenses,” denverpost.com, Oct. 7, 2014

Jordan Steffen and John Ingold, “Colorado Supreme Court Puts Halt to Boulder Gay Marriage Licenses,” denverpost.com, July 30, 2014

Jason Stein and Patrick Marley, “Court Rules against Wisconsin’s, Indiana’s Gay Marriage Bans,” Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel, Sep. 4, 2014


History of Gay Marriage

Celebration outside the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015, when gay marriage was legalized nationwide.
Tedeytan, “Supreme Court of the United States ends marriage discrimination – Obergefell vs Hodges,” wikipedia.org, June 26, 2015 (creative commons license)

On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. Prior to the decision, same-sex marriage was legal in 37 states and Washington DC, but was banned in the remaining 13 states. US public opinion has shifted significantly over the years, from 27% approval of gay marriage in 1996 to 55% in 2015, the year it became legal throughout the United States, to 61% in 2019. [166][167]

Proponents of legal gay marriage contend that gay marriage bans are discriminatory and unconstitutional, and that same-sex couples should have access to all the benefits enjoyed by different-sex couples.

Opponents contend that marriage has traditionally been defined as being between one man and one woman, and that marriage is primarily for procreation.

Gay Rights, 1960-1980s

The gay rights movement in the US can be traced back to the Stonewall Riots that occurred following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City at 3 a.m. on June 28, 1969. Police raids on gay bars were commonplace, but on this occasion the gay and lesbian patrons fought back and sparked days of protests. The Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of a political movement for gay rights during a time when it was illegal to have homosexual sex in all states except for Illinois. [21] Between 1969 and 1974, the number of gay organizations in the country swelled from fewer than 50 to nearly a thousand. [22]

Gay-rights activism in the 1970s focused more on personal liberation and visibility than on gaining access to institutions such as marriage. While some gay activists sought the right to marry in the early 1970s, others rejected marriage as “heterosexist” and saw it as an outdated institution. [23] The gay liberation movement achieved a victory in Dec. 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder and the American Psychological Association did the same in 1975. [24]

The increased visibility of the gay community prompted a well publicized backlash by opponents of gay-rights. One high-profile opponent of gay rights was singer and former Miss Oklahoma Anita Bryant who founded the group Save Our Children and campaigned to repeal local ordinances that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. During the 1980s, news of the AIDS epidemic increased homophobia and discrimination but also encouraged the gay community to further organize. Following the news that actor Rock Hudson was dying of AIDS, attitudes towards both AIDS and the gay community started to shift. In 1983, Congressman Gerry Studds (D-MA) became the first openly gay Congressman, followed by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) in 1987. [23]

Gay Marriage Debate, 1990-2010

The current national debate on gay marriage was sparked by the Supreme Court of Hawaii’s 3-1 ruling on May 5, 1993 that the state could not ban same-sex marriages without “a compelling reason” to do so. [55] The case was sent back to a lower court but voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage before the courts settled the issue. Although a gay marriage was never performed in Hawaii, the issue gained national attention and prompted over 40 states over the next decade to pass Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) that defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. [59]

President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton in 1996.
Source: National Archives, “President Clinton,” nara.getarchive.net, 1996

On Sep. 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act into law which defined marriage at the federal level as between a man and a woman. The federal DOMA statute ensured that no state would be forced to recognize gay marriages performed in other states and prevented same-sex couples from receiving federal protections and benefits given to married heterosexual couples.

On Dec. 20, 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Baker v. Vermont that same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights, protections, and benefits as heterosexual couples. [56] On July 1, 2000, Vermont became the first state in the US to institute civil unions, giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples without calling it marriage.

On June 26, 2003, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws were unconstitutional. In overruling the court’s June 30, 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, the court established a right to sexual privacy and Justice Antonin Scalia predicted in his dissent that the majority decision “leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

On Nov. 18, 2003, Massachusetts highest court ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry. Unlike the 1999 Vermont Supreme Court ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did not provide the legislature the opportunity to offer an alternative to marriage such as civil unions. On May 17, 2004, the first legal gay marriage in the US was performed in Cambridge, MA between Tanya McCloskey, a massage therapist, and Marcia Kadish, an employment manager at an engineering firm. [26]

Before 2004, four states had banned gay marriages. In 2004, 13 states saw their constitutions amended by referenda to ban gay marriage. Between 2005 and Sep. 15, 2010, 14 more states followed suit, bringing the total number of states with constitutional bans on gay marriage to 30. [59]

On July 14, 2004, an effort in the US Senate to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage received only 48 votes of the necessary 60 votes for the proposal to proceed. On Sep. 30, 2004, the US House of Representatives also rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage by a vote of 227 to 186, 49 votes shy of the necessary two-thirds majority. [27]

Then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Source: Gage Skidmore, “Gavin Newsom speaking at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention in San Francisco, California,” wikipedia.org, June 1, 2019 (creative commons license)

California, with the nation’s largest and most racially diverse gay and lesbian population, has played a prominent role in the modern gay marriage debate. On Feb. 15, 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the city to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex-couples. On Mar. 11, 2004 the California Supreme Court ordered a halt to same-sex weddings and voided the marriages on Aug. 12, 2004. In a 4-3 ruling on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned state laws banning gay marriage. [28] Between May 2008 and Nov. 4, 2008, an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples married in CA. [29] On Nov. 4, 2008, 52.3% of California voters approved ballot measure Proposition 8 which made same-sex marriage illegal in the state. On May 26, 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8’s gay marriage ban, but on Aug. 4, 2010, US District Judge Vaughn R. Walker struck down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional [41] , and on Feb. 7, 2012, a three-judge panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Walker’s ruling. [73] Following Judge Walker’s ruling, many organizations expressed their views on gay marriage.

On Aug. 4, 2010, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints released a statement saying, “Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of society.” [33] On Aug. 10, 2010, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates voted to support gay marriage. [31] The following day, the American Psychological Association reiterated its support for same-sex marriage. [32] In a Sep. 13, 2010 speech, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his opposition to gay marriage, saying the Roman Catholic Church “cannot approve of legal initiatives that imply a re-evaluation of the life of the couple and the family.” [34]

From 1988 to 2010, public support for gay marriage increased at a rate of 1 to 1.5 points per year. [35] On Aug. 11, 2010, CNN released the results of the first national poll to show a majority support for gay marriage, with 52% agreeing that “gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid.” [36] A Gallup report released on May 8, 2012 found that national support for same-sex marriage peaked in 2011 at 53%, dropping to 50% in 2012. [66]

Repeal of DOMA: US Supreme Court Enters the Debate

On July 19, 2011, the Obama administration announced that it would support a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This followed President Obama’s decision on Feb. 23, 2011 to instruct the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA, the federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between a man and woman, over concerns that it violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment. [57][58]

On May 9, 2012, President Obama became the first sitting US president to declare his support for gay marriage, stating: “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” [64]

On June 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in United States v. Windsor declared unconstitutional part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage solely as a legal union between a man and a woman. The decision allowed same-sex married couples to receive the same federal benefits granted to heterosexual married couples, including tax breaks and pension rights. [74][75]

Edith Windsor (the “Windsor” in US v. Windsor) at the DC Pride Parade in 2017.
Source: Rex Block, “Edie Windsor at DC Pride 2017,” wikipedia.org , June 10, 2017

Also on June 26, 2013, and also in a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled in Hollingsworth v. Perry that proponents of California’s Proposition 8 lacked “standing” to defend the anti-gay marriage measure after it had been ruled unconstitutional by a District Court. The decision was considered to clear the way for gay marriage to become legal again in the state. [76][77]

In 2013 and 2014, following the US Supreme Court’s United States v. Windsor decision, gay marriage bans were overturned by court rulings in several states, but those rulings were put on hold pending appeals to the US Supreme Court. On Oct. 6, 2014, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from five of those states, and the decision immediately cleared the way for legal gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Six other states in which gay marriage bans had been overturned, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming, were also affected by the Supreme Court ruling because they were in the jurisdictions of the lower courts that had overturned the gay marriage bans. [81]

Gay Marriage Legalized by US Supreme Court

On Apr. 28, 2015, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges about whether or not gay marriage is a right guaranteed by the US Constitution, and whether or not gay marriages performed in states where it has been legalized must be recognized in states that ban the practice. [160] On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the US Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 US states. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy stated in the majority opinion: “The Court, in this decision, holds same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States.” [159]

On Jan. 6, 2016, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered state probate judges to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He had issued a similar ruling in Feb. 2015 after a federal court struck down Alabama’s ban on gay marriage. It remains unclear whether state probate judges are following these orders. [163][164][165]

After the Supreme Court ruling, there was some backlash in states where their bans had been overturned by the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. Several county clerks resigned or refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples (or to grant marriage licenses to anyone), citing government infringement on their personal religious beliefs. [161] Most publicly, County Clerk Kim Davis in Rowan County, Kentucky, was briefly jailed in Sep. 2015 for contempt of court when she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and ordered her employees to do the same. Davis was released from jail when her employees began issuing licenses in her absence and said they would continue to do so upon her return to work. [162]

The White House lighted in rainbow colors on the night of the Obergefell Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage
Source: Tedeytan, �.06.26 White House Rainbow Colors,” wikipedia.org, June 17, 2015 (creative commons license)

International Same-Sex Marriage

The world’s first legal gay marriage ceremony took place in the Netherlands on Apr. 1, 2001, just after midnight. The four couples, one female and three male, were married in a televised ceremony officiated by the mayor of Amsterdam. [152] In addition to the Netherlands, gay marriage is legal in over thirty countries. [39] [63][65] [66][67][78][80][83]

For additional information on the history of gay marriage, visit our gay marriage timeline.


First same-sex marriages in US were 14 years ago today in Massachusetts

Thursday marks the 14th anniversary of the first same-sex marriages in the United States, which took place here in Massachusetts.

According to data obtained by the News Service, there have been 32,469 same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts since May 17, 2004, based on numbers that run through 2016.

That day in 2004 began for more than 260 couples at Cambridge City Hall, where the doors opened at midnight for same-sex couples to begin filing paperwork for marriage certificates. And at 9 a.m. sharp, Julie and Hillary Goodridge arrived in Boston to an eruption of applause and support.

“I don’t think I could feel more exhilarated than I feel now,” Hillary Goodridge, lead plaintiff in the court case that legalized gay marriage, said after exchanging vows with Julie Goodridge, her partner of 17 years, on May 17, 2004.

Emily Saltzman, Thank You For Coming Out (While Staying In)

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The marriages went off that day thanks to a court ruling that came down six months earlier. On Nov. 18, 2003, the state Supreme Judicial Court issued a 4-3 ruling clearing the way for Massachusetts to become the first state to legalize same-sex marriages, concluding that to deny gays and lesbians the right to wed violates the constitutional guarantee to equality and liberty under law.

The first same-sex weddings were followed by a campaign to put marriage equality on the ballot, an effort that spurred long debates in the Legislature. On June 14, 2007 the Massachusetts Legislature derailed a citizen petition banning gay marriage from appearing on the 2008 ballot, voting 151-45 to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment and effectively ending debate here.

After a wave of more than 6,100 same-sex marriages in 2004, same-sex marriages have proceeded at a steady pace throughout Massachusetts, with on average 989 male-male marriages each year and 1,507 female-female marriages per year, according to state Department of Public Health.

“It’s been normalized,” said Deborah Shields, executive director of MassEquality. “For many people it’s a lot of the same-old, same-old.”

The advocacy group these days is pushing legislation on Beacon Hill to ban conversion therapy, aiming to guard the LGBTQ community from Trump administration actions, and monitoring a U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Colorado baker who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding.

In 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 911 male-male marriages and 1,119 female-female marriages, compared to 37,582 male-female marriages. The 39,652 total marriages in 2016 was the largest number for any single year since same-sex marriages began.

Over the 12-plus years covered by the state data, there have been 12,866 male-male marriages, 19,603 female-female marriages and 449,471 male-female marriages in Massachusetts.

Same-sex marriage was legalized on a state-by-state basis following the Goodridge decision. After same-sex marriage had been adopted in a majority of states, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 legalized same-sex marriage across the country with its landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. Even an opponent of same-sex marriage like Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively admitted this week that fighting is futile. “We’re stuck with it,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

Lively said he would have supported granting same-sex couple rights, such as hospital visitation, without changing the institution of marriage, but would not try to change it if elected governor. Instead, he said he just wants the state to “gets its thumb off the scale in the contest between people of faith and people from the LGBT community.” “I really just believe that when it comes to public policy we have to preserve a mainstream culture that’s grounded in the heterosexual norm. That’s what’s healthy, that’s what we need. The natural family is the ecosystem of humanity,” Lively said.

Gov. Charlie Baker, the incumbent Republican, supports same-sex marriage.


History of Marriage: 13 Surprising Facts

Moonstruck partners pledging eternal love may be the current definition of marriage, but this starry-eyed picture has relatively modern origins.

Though marriage has ancient roots, until recently love had little to do with it.

"What marriage had in common was that it really was not about the relationship between the man and the woman," said Stephanie Coontz, the author of "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage," (Penguin Books, 2006). "It was a way of getting in-laws, of making alliances and expanding the family labor force."

But as family plots of land gave way to market economies and Kings ceded power to democracies, the notion of marriage transformed. Now, most Americans see marriage as a bond between equals that's all about love and companionship. [I Don't: 5 Myths About Marriage]

That changing definition has paved the way for same-sex marriage and Wednesday's (June 26) Supreme Court rulings, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismissed a case concerning Proposition 8.

From polygamy to same-sex marriage, here are 13 milestones in the history of marriage.

1. Arranged alliances

Marriage is a truly ancient institution that predates recorded history. But early marriage was seen as a strategic alliance between families, with the youngsters often having no say in the matter. In some cultures, parents even married one child to the spirit of a deceased child in order to strengthen familial bonds, Coontz said.

2. Family ties

Keeping alliances within the family was also quite common. In the Bible, the forefathers Isaac and Jacob married cousins and Abraham married his half-sister. Cousin marriages remain common throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East. In fact, Rutgers anthropologist Robin Fox has estimated that the majority of all marriages throughout history were between first and second cousins.

3. Polygamy preferred

Monogamy may seem central to marriage now, but in fact, polygamy was common throughout history. From Jacob, to Kings David and Solomon, Biblical men often had anywhere from two to thousands of wives. (Of course, though polygamy may have been an ideal that high-status men aspired to, for purely mathematical reasons most men likely had at most one wife). In a few cultures, one woman married multiple men, and there have even been some rare instances of group marriages. [Life's Extremes: Monogamy vs. Polygamy]

4. Babies optional

In many early cultures, men could dissolve a marriage or take another wife if a woman was infertile. However, the early Christian church was a trailblazer in arguing that marriage was not contingent on producing offspring.

"The early Christian church held the position that if you can procreate you must not refuse to procreate. But they always took the position that they would annul a marriage if a man could not have sex with his wife, but not if they could not conceive," Coontz told LiveScience.

5. Monogamy established

Monogamy became the guiding principle for Western marriages sometime between the sixth and the ninth centuries, Coontz said.

"There was a protracted battle between the Catholic Church and the old nobility and kings who wanted to say 'I can take a second wife,'" Coontz said.

The Church eventually prevailed, with monogamy becoming central to the notion of marriage by the ninth century.

6. Monogamy lite

Still, monogamous marriage was very different from the modern conception of mutual fidelity. Though marriage was legally or sacramentally recognized between just one man and one woman, until the 19th century, men had wide latitude to engage in extramarital affairs, Coontz said. Any children resulting from those trysts, however, would be illegitimate, with no claim to the man's inheritance.

"Men's promiscuity was quite protected by the dual laws of legal monogamy but tolerance &mdash basically enabling &mdash of informal promiscuity," Coontz said.

Women caught stepping out, by contrast, faced serious risk and censure.

7. State or church?

Marriages in the West were originally contracts between the families of two partners, with the Catholic Church and the state staying out of it. In 1215, the Catholic Church decreed that partners had to publicly post banns, or notices of an impending marriage in a local parish, to cut down on the frequency of invalid marriages (the Church eliminated that requirement in the 1980s). Still, until the 1500s, the Church accepted a couple's word that they had exchanged marriage vows, with no witnesses or corroborating evidence needed.

8. Civil marriage

In the last several hundred years, the state has played a greater role in marriage. For instance, Massachusetts began requiring marriage licenses in 1639, and by the 19th-century marriage licenses were common in the United States.

9. Love matches

By about 250 years ago, the notion of love matches gained traction, Coontz said, meaning marriage was based on love and possibly sexual desire. But mutual attraction in marriage wasn't important until about a century ago. In fact, in Victorian England, many held that women didn't have strong sexual urges at all, Coontz said.

10. Market economics

Around the world, family-arranged alliances have gradually given way to love matches, and a transition from an agricultural to a market economy plays a big role in that transition, Coontz said.

Parents historically controlled access to inheritance of agricultural land. But with the spread of a market economy, "it's less important for people to have permission of their parents to wait to give them an inheritance or to work on their parents' land," Coontz said. "So it's more possible for young people to say, 'heck, I'm going to marry who I want.'"

Modern markets also allow women to play a greater economic role, which lead to their greater independence. And the expansion of democracy, with its emphasis on liberty and individual choice, may also have stacked the deck for love matches.

11. Different spheres

Still, marriage wasn't about equality until about 50 years ago. At that time, women and men had unique rights and responsibilities within marriage. For instance, in the United States, marital rape was legal in many states until the 1970s, and women often could not open credit cards in their own names, Coontz said. Women were entitled to support from their husbands, but didn't have the right to decide on the distribution of community property. And if a wife was injured or killed, a man could sue the responsible party for depriving him of "services around the home," whereas women didn't have the same option, Coontz said.

12. Partnership of equals

By about 50 years ago, the notion that men and women had identical obligations within marriage began to take root. Instead of being about unique, gender-based roles, most partners conceived of their unions in terms of flexible divisions of labor, companionship, and mutual sexual attraction.

13. Gay marriage gains ground

Changes in straight marriage paved the way for gay marriage. Once marriage was not legally based on complementary, gender-based roles, gay marriage seemed like a logical next step.

"One of the reasons for the stunningly rapid increase in acceptance of same sex marriage is because heterosexuals have completely changed their notion of what marriage is between a man and a woman," Coontz said. "We now believe it is based on love, mutual sexual attraction, equality and a flexible division of labor."


Watch the video: Wexford Countys first same-sex marriage


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