On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court declared that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violates the U.S. Constitution.
This decision extends the freedom to marry to all same-sex couples nationwide.
This ruling was followed by several states breaking the law and continuing to deny legal marriage for same-sex couples, as well as numerous legislative attempts that were designed to damage the lives of LGBT people.|
Since 2013 — two years before the right to marry was obtained — there has been a record-breaking introduction of 254 anti-gay bills in many U.S. states. These include 104 based on religious exemptions, 34 in order to segregate transgender peoples, 62 in order to refuse marriage to same-sex couples, and 54 miscellaneous anti-gay laws. Of those bills, 20 have been signed into law. There are still 48 active bills (as of July 1, 2016). [See “The Dramatic Rise in State Efforts to Limit LGBT Rights” by Everdeen Mason, Aaron Williams and Kennedy Elliott, Washington Post, July 1, 2016]
While this court finding represents a new legal reality, many state officials continue to place roadblocks preventing equal treatment under this law. It remains important to understand the basic civil, economic and social necessities for the right to marry, in order to ensure our rightful status as full, participating citizens.
Legal Marriage Primer - Read This If You Don’t Read Another Thing About Legal Marriage - the rationale for civil marriage.
Risking Backlash - Going for Legal Marriage - actions preventing equality.
Rulings Leading to Supreme Court Finding for Legal Marriage Equality
- On January 16, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of all the cases from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals: the Ohio marriage recognition cases litigated by Lambda Legal, the ACLU and the firm of Gerhardstein & Branch, a Michigan marriage case being handled by GLAD and private counsel, the Kentucky marriage cases being handled by the ACLU and private counsel, and a Tennessee marriage case being handled by NCLR and private counsel. This lead to the halt of the anti-gay, anti-U.S. Constitutional denials of legal marriage for same-sex couples across America.
- On December 19, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order declining to extend the stay on a federal court ruling striking down Florida’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The stay expired on January 5, 2015, at which point, Florida gained the right for same-sex couples to marry. Upon lifting the stay, a Florida judge ordered Miami-Dade County to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples immediately.
- On October 17, 2014: The U.S. Supreme Court denied Alaska’s request for an emergency stay Friday morning, allowing same-sex marriages to resume.
- On October 17, 2014: Judge Sedwick agreed with the recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which struck down the discriminatory marriage bans, which were violations against the U.S. Constitution, in Arizona, Nevada and Idaho.
- On October 17, 2014: A federal court in Casper, Wyoming ruled that Wyoming’s marriage ban is unconstitutional.
- On October 7, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the discriminatory marriage bans for same-sex couples in Nevada and Idaho.
- On October 6, the Supreme Court denied review of that 4th Circuit ruling, meaning that the decision allowing same-sex marriage would take effect across the circuit, including in West Virginia.
- On October 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed marriage case decisions from the Seventh Circuit, Fourth Circuit and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeal to stand, which thereby allows same-sex couples in Indiana, Wisconsin, Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma to legally marry.
- As of May 2014, judges have ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
- On August 30, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that same-sex married elders enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program will now be able to access important benefits for their spouses in skilled nursing facilities, even if they live in states that do not recognize their marriages. Previously, many LGBT seniors had to choose between being in a nursing home away from their spouse, or paying more money to be with their loved one.
- On August 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced a ruling that ensures all legally-married same-sex couples, regardless of where they live, will be recognized for federal tax purposes.
- On June 28, 2013, with Prop 8 no longer valid, the California 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, lifted its prohibition, ordering state officials to ignore Proposition 8, and to resume offering legal marriage to same-sex couples in California.
- On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Federal, so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DoMA) and California’s “Proposition 8” are unconstitutional. With DoMA removed, the federal government is no longer barred from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples. This should allow married, binational couples to stay together when the non-citizen partner applies for citizenship, and allow same-sex couples gain Federal workplace benefits, as well as Social Security survivor benefits.
- On November 6, 2012, the states of Maine, Maryland and Washington won marriage equality through voter election process.
Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
South Africa (2005)
New Zealand (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
United States (2015)
US States & Territories
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Rhode Island (2013)
New Jersey (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
West Virginia (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
Ruling: All U.S. States must now
allow same-sex couples the
freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes|
Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)