By David A. Tracy
Washington this week becomes the 7th state to authorize marriages between persons of the same gender. The law does not take effect right away. Opponents of the law have until June 6th to gather enough petition signatures to force a statewide vote on the law in November. Assuming the petition drive falls short, or the law survives a vote of the people, this is the list of U.S. states allowing same-sex marriage licenses (and the year they were first authorized).
The following states allow “civil unions” for same-sex couples, with all the rights of opposite-sex married couples.
The following states allow “domestic partnerships” for same-sex couples, but don’t grant all the rights enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.
District of Columbia
The following states have statutes passed by their legislatures that define marriage as between a man and a woman
The following states have constitutional amendments that define marriage as between a man and a woman:
In 2004, Oklahoma voters approved an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution banning same-sex marriages. Oklahoma Constitution, Article 2, Sec. 35, states:
“A. Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. Neither this Constitution nor any other provision of law shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
B. A marriage between persons of the same gender performed in another state shall not be recognized as valid and binding in this state as of the date of the marriage.”
Since 1996, the federal government has denied benefits to same-sex couples under the Federal Defense of Marriage Act. Same-sex couples married under their state’s law cannot file joint federal income tax returns and take deductions available in traditional marriages. There are no spousal Social Security benefits. They can’t take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave law that protects one’s job and health insurance during emergency absences.
UPDATE: On February 22, 2012, a federal district judge in California ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. The court held that DOMA violated the equal protection rights of a lesbian married in California who could not get health insurance benefits for her spouse through her employer. Read the opinion here.
Gregoire signs gay marriage into law, Seattle Times, Feb. 13, 2012 http://bit.ly/wOUi3B
Gay marriage in the US: seven ways states differ on the issue, Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 9, 2012 http://bit.ly/zE9FGo
Status of Marriage Equality Worldwide, Lambda Legal http://bit.ly/AecGPU
Oklahoma Constitution, Article 2, Sec. 35 http://bit.ly/xBp28r
Federal Defense of Marriage Act
Senate panel OKs repeal of Defense of Marriage Act, USA Today, Nov. 10, 2011 http://usat.ly/upt5bV
Same-Sex Marriage, Suffolk University Law School http://bit.ly/gVJ6BR