United States district courts in Utah,Oklahoma,Virginia, and Texas have declared state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional; and each ruling has been stayed from enforcement pending appeals. More than 1,300 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Utah before the Supreme Court stayed the court's order on January 6, 2014. On February 12, 2014, a federal court in Kentucky declared the state's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional, and suggested that the state's ban on performing same-sex marriages within its borders would not survive a constitutional challenge.
While many jurisdictions have legalized same-sex civil marriage through court rulings, legislative action, and popular vote, four states prohibit same-sex civil marriage by statute and 29 prohibit it in their constitutions. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states. Section 3 of DOMA prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages until that provision was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2013, in United States v. Windsor.
The legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage in the United States are determined by the nation's federal system of government, in which the status of a person (including marriage) in general is determined by the individual states. Prior to 1996, the federal government did not define marriage; any marriage recognized by a state was recognized by the federal government, even if that marriage was not recognized by one or more other states (as was the case with interracial marriage before 1967 due to anti-miscegenation laws). With the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, a marriage was explicitly defined in federal law as a union of one man and one woman.
Many aspects of marriage law are determined by the states, rather than the federal government. The Defense of Marriage Act does not prevent individual states from defining marriage as they see fit. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Baker v. Nelson, a same-sex marriage case filed in Minnesota, "for want of a substantial federal question." In doing so, the court upheld the state of Minnesota's right to restrict marriage to different-sex couples.
On November 15, 2013, a U.S. district court in Pennsylvania denied a motion to dismiss in a same-sex marriage case, put forth by defendants who argued that Baker v. Nelson is binding precedent. The court said that "[t]he jurisprudence of equal protection and substantive due process has undergone what can only be characterized as a sea change since 1972," allowing the case to proceed to trial in 2014.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have worked to prevent individual states from recognizing same-sex unions by attempting to amend the United States Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In 2006, the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would prohibit states from recognizing same-sex marriages, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote and was debated by the full United States Senate, but was ultimately defeated in both Houses of Congress.
State laws regarding same-sex partnerships in the United States*
Same-sex marriage allowed1
Same-sex domestic partnerships or civil unions allowed2
Legislation granting limited rights to same-sex couples
Same-sex marriages performed elsewhere recognized3
Judicial ruling against a same-sex marriage ban stayed pending appeal
No specific prohibition or recognition of same-sex marriages or unions in territory law
State statute bans same-sex marriage
State constitution bans same-sex marriage
State constitution bans same-sex marriage and some or all other same-sex unions
*Same-sex marriage is recognized by the federal government for residents of all states. 1 Same-sex marriage in Illinois begins June 1, 2014, but has already begun in Cook County. Eight Native American tribal jurisdictions also allow same-sex marriage. 2 Not recognized by federal government. Some states that allow same-sex marriage also allow other same-sex unions. See Civil unions in the United States. 3 A U.S. district court ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, but enforcement of the ruling is stayed until March 20.
All jurisdictions in the Northeast Corridor, except for Pennsylvania, have legalized same-sex marriage. Prior to 2004, same-sex civil marriage was not recognized in any U.S. jurisdiction. It has since been legalized in different jurisdictions through legislation, court ruling, tribal council rulings, and upheld by popular vote in a statewide referendum in three of these states.
Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Wisconsin have created legal unions for same-sex couples that offer varying subsets of the rights and responsibilities of marriage under the laws of those jurisdictions.
In 1998, in response to the Hawaii Supreme Court's ruling in Baehr v. Miike, Hawaii voters approved a state constitutional amendment ("Amendment 2") allowing their legislature to ban same-sex marriage. In 2003, the US Supreme Court struck down Texas' "Homosexual Conduct" law in Lawrence v. Texas. The ruling effectively nullified similar same-sex sodomy laws in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri along with broader sodomy laws in nine other states.
On May 15, 2008, the Supreme Court of California issued a decision in which it effectively legalized same-sex marriage in California, holding that California's existing opposite-sex definition of marriage violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage opponents in California placed a state constitutional amendment known as Proposition 8 on the November 2008 ballot for the purpose of restoring an opposite-sex definition of marriage. (Proposition 8 was somewhat unusual compared to other initiatives connected to same-sex marriage, since California had ratified same-sex marriages and Proposition 8 was a response intended to subsequently re-remove the right of marriage.) Proposition 8 was passed on Election Day 2008, as were proposed marriage-limiting amendments in Florida and Arizona.
On August 4, 2010, a decision by the U.S. District Court in Perry v. Schwarzenegger ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. The decision in that case was upheld at appeal and – as the State of California decided not to appeal or defend Proposition 8 – the voters who initially instigated the initiative appealed to the Supreme Court, which asked to be briefed for arguments concerning the appellants' standing, and heard oral arguments on March 26, 2013. In accordance with numerous precedent cases rejecting the concept of proponents' standing to defend a challenged law in Federal court, the Supreme Court dismissed the case for lack of standing in a decision issued June 26, 2013, after which same-sex marriage once again became legal in California. Proposition 8 supporters have expressed the intent to fight on (for example by asserting the ruling only applies to the persons or counties involved), but this was rejected by California's Attorney General Kamala Harris, who noted that "state officials are obligated to govern marriage equally in all counties and that Walker's ruling specifically covers those officials". Same-sex marriages resumed on June 28, 2013.
On October 10, 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the state's civil unions statute as unconstitutionally discriminatory against same-sex couples, and required the state to recognize same-sex marriages. The following year, the state general assembly passed gender-neutral marriage legislation, which the state's Republican governor signed into law. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Iowa following the unanimous ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court in Varnum v. Brien on April 3, 2009. This decision was initially scheduled to take effect on April 24, but the date was changed to April 27 for administrative reasons. On December 18, 2009, a same-sex marriage bill was signed into law by the Mayor of the District of Columbia; same-sex marriage licenses became available in Washington, D.C., on March 3, 2010.
By 2009, New England became the center of an organized push to legalize same-sex marriage, which was achieved in all six states in that region. 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 became the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage through legislative means rather than litigation. On May 6, 2009, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage, becoming the first state governor to do so. Nonetheless, the legislation was stayed pending a vote and never went into effect. It was repealed by referendum in November 2009. On June 3, 2009, New Hampshire became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.
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. Nineteen states banned any legal recognition of same-sex unions that would be equivalent to civil marriage. In 28 out of 30 states where constitutional amendments or initiatives that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman were put on the ballot in a referendum, voters approved such amendments.[n 4] Arizonans voted down one such amendment in 2006, but approved a different amendment to that effect in 2008. In 2012, Minnesota became the second state to reject an amendment to its state constitution banning same-sex marriage, though Democrats increased their numbers in the legislature in the same election, leading to the May 2013 enactment of same-sex marriage legislation there. A bill that would have legalized same sex marriage in New Jersey was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie on February 17, 2012 before a New Jersey Superior Court ruling led to its legalization in October 2013.
Prior to the November 2012 election, Maryland recognized same-sex marriages formed in other jurisdictions, but did not allow forming such marriages within its borders. New York had been in a similar situation as its courts had held that same-sex marriages conducted in states where they are legal must be recognized by those states, but that the state statutes did not allow the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses, a situation which changed when its legislature legalized granting licenses to same-sex couples in 2011.
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. The North Carolina vote was held on the same day as the Republican Presidential primary (which was won by Romney), therefore disproportionally drawing more Republicans to this special election. The amendment was approved 61.04% to 38.96%, with a voter turnout of 34.66%. North Carolina already prohibited same-sex marriages by statute.
In the regular November 2012 elections, however, state voters for the first time approved same-sex marriage by popular vote, in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. Maine's law took effect on December 29, 2012. By law, Maryland started allowing same-sex marriages on January 1, 2013, The Washington legislature had enacted legislation that would institute same-sex marriage in the state in February 2012, but the enactment was stayed pending a voter referendum, which passed. The referendum was certified on December 5, 2012, and the first licenses were distributed on December 9. In the same election, Minnesota became the second state to reject a statewide constitutional ban against same-sex marriage by a popular vote.
Several governments enacted same-sex marriage in 2013. The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians of Michigan voted in March 2013 to legalize same-sex marriages under their tribal jurisdiction, although the state maintained that it would not recognize the marriages. The Rhode Island legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on May 2, which took effect August 1; Delaware enacted legislation on May 7, which took effect July 1; and Minnesota enacted legislation on May 14, which took effect August 1. In July 2013, a court clerk in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with the rationale that the state marriage statutes are unconstitutional, but his action was overruled by a state intermediate appellate court in September and he was ordered to cease issuing the licenses.
New Jersey began issuing same-sex marriage licenses on October 21, 2013, following a September 27 state superior court decision which found an equal protection guarantee for same-sex couples. Governor Chris Christie originally filed an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court, but withdrew it after the court declined to issue a stay on the lower court's ruling.
In October and November 2013, both houses of 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. The Illinois General Assembly passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on November 5, 2013. The House of Representatives narrowly passed an amended version of an earlier Senate bill 61–54–2 with the Senate approving the House version 32–21 only about an hour later. Governor Pat Quinn signed the legislation on November 20. On February 21, 2014 U.S District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled that same-sex couples in Cook County, which includes Illinois' largest city Chicago, can obtain marriage licenses immediately and need not wait until the law's June 1 effective date. On February 26, 2014, a Champaign County clerk began issuing same-sex marriage licenses after consulting the State's Attorney and concluding that the Cook County order is applicable.
In 2013, certain 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, Doña Ana County and Santa Fe County began issuing same-sex marriage licenses, the latter through a court order. Although opponents filed for an injunction, same-sex marriage expanded to a total of eight New Mexico counties. On December 19, 2013, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, effective immediately, same-sex marriage would be permitted throughout the state.
On December 20, 2013, Judge Robert J. Shelby of the U.S. District Court for Utah struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional in Kitchen v. Herbert.Salt Lake County began issuing marriage licenses immediately, followed by other counties. After failing to get the District Court or the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the decision pending appeal, Utah state officials asked for a stay from the United States Supreme Court, which granted the request on January 6, 2014. The stay allowed Utah to reinstate its ban on same-sex marriage and deny state services to married same-sex couples. 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. The Tenth Circuit ordered the appeals process to be heard on an expedited basis and set a briefing schedule to be completed by February 25.
On January 14, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Terence C. Kern ruled in Bishop v. Oklahoma that Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. He stayed his ruling pending appeal. On January 23, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that the state would reverse its position and support a federal lawsuit challenging the Virginia state constitution's ban on same-sex marriage. On January 21, a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, considering issues unrelated to marriage in SmithKline Beecham Corporation v. Abbott Laboratories, ruled that distinctions based on sexual orientation are subject to the "heightened scrutiny" standard of review. In response to that decision, on February 10, Nevada State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto withdrew the state's brief in Sevcik v. Sandoval, ending its defense of the state's ban on same-sex marriage. On February 12, 2014, U.S. District JudgeJohn G. Heyburn declared Kentucky's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional, and suggested that the state's ban on performing same-sex marriages within its borders would not survive a constitutional challenge. On February 27, 2014, Judge Heyburn issued an order requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, but the next day he stayed that order until March 20.
In Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional on August 4, 2010. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court after an appeal in the 9th Circuit. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the official proponents of Proposition 8 lacked standing to appeal in federal court due to a lack of direct injury required by well-established precedential standards. (June 26, 2013) Same-sex marriages resumed on June 28, 2013.
Rally for same-sex marriage (May 2009, San Francisco, California)
Same-sex marriage supporters make several arguments in support of their position. Gail Mathabane likens prohibitions on same-sex marriage to past U.S. prohibitions on interracial marriage.Fernando Espuelas argues that same-sex marriage should be allowed because same-sex marriage extends a civil right to a minority group. According to an American history scholar, Nancy Cott, "there really is no comparison, because there is nothing that is like marriage except marriage."
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is one of the leading advocacy groups in support of same-sex marriage. According to the HRC's website, "Many same-sex couples want the right to legally marry because they are in love—many, in fact, have spent the last 10, 20 or 50 years with that person—and they want to honor their relationship in the greatest way our society has to offer, by making a public commitment to stand together in good times and bad, through all the joys and challenges family life brings."
The leading associations of psychological, psychiatric, medical, and social work professionals in the United States such as American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Nursing and National Association of Social Workers have said that claims that the legal recognition of marriage for same–sex couples undermines the institution of marriage and harms children is inconsistent with the scientific evidence which supports the conclusions: that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality that is not chosen; that gay and lesbian people form stable, committed relationships essentially equivalent to heterosexual relationships; that same-sex parents are no less capable than opposite-sex parents to raise children; and that the children of same-sex parents are no less psychologically healthy and well-adjusted than children of opposite-sex parents. The body of research strongly supports the conclusion that discrimination by the federal government between married same-sex couples and married opposite-sex couples in granting benefits unfairly stigmatizes same-sex couples. The research also contradicts the stereotype-based rationales advanced to support passage of DOMA that the Equal Protection Clause was designed to prohibit.
Garden State Equality states that the wording "same-sex marriage" implies a separate, and therefore unequal, category of marriage. The 2012 Democratic Party Platform used the term "marriage equality" in its support.
Role of social media
Supporters of the legalization of same-sex marriage have successfully used social media websites such as Facebook to help achieve that goal. Some have argued that the successful use of social media websites by LGBT groups has played a key role in the defeat of religion-based opposition.
One of the largest scale uses of social media to mobilize support for same-sex marriage preceded and coincided with the arrival at the US Supreme Court of high-profile legal cases for Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act in March 2013. The 'red equals sign' project started by the Human Rights Campaign was an electronic campaign primarily based on Facebook which encouraged users to change their profile images to a red equal sign to express support for same-sex marriage. At the time of the court hearings it was estimated that approximately 2.5 million Facebook users changed their profile images to a red equals sign.
Rally for Prop 8 in Fresno, California (October 2008)
Opponents of same-sex marriage in the United States ground their arguments on parenting concerns, religious concerns, concerns that changes to the definition of marriage would lead to the inclusion of polygamy or incest, and in natural law-based reasoning. The Southern Baptist Convention adopted a statement in June 2003 that legalizing same-sex relationships would "convey a societal approval of a homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible calls sinful and dangerous both to the individuals involved and to society at large".The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Southern Baptist Convention, and National Organization for Marriage argue that children do best when raised by a mother and father, and that legalizing same-sex marriage is, therefore, contrary to the best interests of children.Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage has raised concerns about the impact of same-sex marriage upon religious liberty and upon faith-based charities in the United States. Other arguments against same-sex marriage are based upon concerns that the process of redefining the institution would be a "Pandora's box". Stanley Kurtz of the Weekly Standard has written that same-sex marriage would eventually lead to the legalization of polygamy and polyamory, or group marriage, in the United States.
The funding of the amendment referendum campaigns has been an issue of great dispute. Both judges and the IRS have ruled that it is either questionable or illegal for campaign contributions to be shielded by anonymity. In February 2012, the National Organization for Marriage vowed to spend $250,000 in Washington legislative races to defeat the Republican state senators who voted for same-sex marriage.
President Barack Obama explains his change of view on same-sex marriage with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, May 9, 2012.
In the first half of 2009, it was reported that Barack Obama opposed a federal mandate for same-sex marriage, and also opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, stating that individual states should decide the issue. Obama opposed Proposition 8—California's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage—in 2008. In December 2010, the White House website stated that the president supported full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. He also stated that his position on same-sex marriage was "evolving" and that he recognized that civil unions from the perspective of same-sex couples was "not enough", before subsequently declaring his full support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2012.
On May 9, 2012, President Obama announced in an interview with ABC News that after wrestling with the subject for many years, he had come to believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. In the same interview, he stated his belief that individual states should have the final say as to whether same-sex marriage is recognized. The announcement made Obama the first United States president to publicly declare his support of same-sex marriage while in office, and marked a departure from his previous stance on the issue. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama had stated, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it is a sacred union. You know, God is in the mix." although he remained supportive of the rights of individuals who identified as gay or lesbian. Obama had previously made comments in support of same-sex marriage as early as the 1990s during his campaign for the Illinois Senate. In a 1996 newspaper interview, Obama stated "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."
In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, the campaign of the Democratic presidential ticket (Obama-Biden) continually emphasized the administration's support for marriage equality, making it a key part of the campaign. President Obama was reelected and mentioned LGBT rights and marriage equality both explicitly and implicitly in both his victory speech on November 7, 2012, and in his inauguration speech on January 21, 2013.
During the 2008 presidential election campaign, then-Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin stated: "I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that that's where we would go because I don't support gay marriage."
Congressman Barney Frank voiced his concern in September 2009 with regard to the ability to obtain sufficient votes to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act: "If we had a chance to pass that, it would be a different story, but I don't think it's a good idea to rekindle that debate when there's no chance of passage in the near term." In 2009, Pelosi described the difficulty in repealing the Defense of Marriage Act: "I would like to get rid of all of it. But the fact is we have to make decisions on what we can pass at a given time. It doesn't mean the other issues are not important. It is a matter of getting the votes and the legislative floor time to do it."
Commenting on the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker regarding Proposition 8 in California, former Speaker of the House of RepresentativesNewt Gingrich issued a statement in opposition to same-sex marriage, which read, in part, as follows: "Judge Walker's ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife... Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy." Gingrich, whose sister is openly gay, later commented that he could accept civil—but not religious—same-sex marriages, and encouraged the Republican Party to accept the "reality" of same-sex marriage becoming legal.
Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi expressed her support for Judge Walker's decision: "I am extremely encouraged by the ruling today, which found that Proposition 8 violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Proposition 8 has taken away individual rights and freedoms, and is a stain upon the California Constitution. We must continue to fight against discriminatory marriage amendments and work toward the day when all American families are treated equally."
In an O'Reilly Factor interview in August 2010, when Glenn Beck was asked if he "believe(s) that gay marriage is a threat to [this] country in any way", he stated, "No I don't...I believe that Thomas Jefferson said: 'If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket what difference is it to me?'"
On his radio show in August 2010, Rush Limbaugh made the following comments: "Marriage? There's a definition of it, for it. It means something. Marriage is a union of a man and woman. It's always been that. If you want to get married and you're a man, marry a woman. Nobody's stopping you. This is about tearing apart an institution."
Recent polls that show a majority of that state's population supports same-sex marriage.
Recent polls that show a plurality of that state's population supports same-sex marriage.
Recent polls that show a plurality of that state's population opposes same-sex marriage.
Recent polls that show a majority of that state's population opposes same-sex marriage.
No recent poll data.
As of 2013[update], public support for same-sex marriage in the United States has solidified above 50%. Public support for same-sex marriage has grown at an increasing pace since the 1990s. In 1996, just 25% of Americans supported legalization of same-sex marriage. Polls have shown that support is identical among whites and Hispanics, while support for same-sex marriage trails among blacks. Polling trends in 2010 and 2011 showed support for same-sex marriage gaining a majority, although the difference is within the error limit of the analysis. On May 20, 2011, Gallup reported majority support for same-sex marriage for the first time in the country. In June 2011, two prominent polling organizations released an analysis of the changing trend in public opinion about same-sex marriage in the United States, concluding that "public support for the freedom to marry has increased, at an accelerating rate, with most polls showing that a majority of Americans now support full marriage rights for all Americans."
A 2013 poll showed a record high of 58% of the American people supporting legal recognition for same-sex marriage. In May 2013, a Gallup poll showed that 53% of Americans would vote for a law legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Three previous readings over the course of a year consistently showed support at 50% or above. Gallup noted: "Just three years ago, support for gay marriage was 44%. The current 53% level of support is essentially double the 27% in Gallup's initial measurement on gay marriage, in 1996." Some commentators, however, have noted instances where polling data has overstated voter opposition to referendums banning same-sex marriage. One study concluded that "polls on gay marriage ballot initiatives generally under-estimate the opposition to gay marriage by about seven percentage points".
Effects of same-sex marriage
Economic impact on same-sex couples
In June 2013, the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and required the federal government to treat legally married same-sex couples on an equal basis with heterosexual married couples. Before that ruling, however, same-sex married couples faced a number of severe disadvantages. While some states extended full marriage rights to same-sex couples within their borders, until section 3 of DOMA was struck down none of those legally married couples were recognized by the federal government for any purpose, financial or otherwise.
According to a 1997 General Accounting Office study requested by Rep. Henry Hyde (R), at least 1,049 U.S. federal laws and regulations include reference to marital status. A later 2004 study by the Congressional Budget Office found 1,138 statutory provisions "in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving 'benefits, rights, and privileges.'" Many of these laws govern property rights, benefits, and taxation. Same-sex couples whose marriages are not recognized by the federal government were ineligible for spousal and survivor Social Security benefits. Badgett's research found that the resulting difference in Social Security income for same-sex couples compared to opposite-sex married couples was US$5,588 per year.
The federal ban on same-sex marriage and benefits through the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) also extended to federal government employee benefits. According to Badgett's work, same-sex couples faced the following other financial disadvantages against which legal marriage at least partially shielded opposite-sex couples:
Legal costs associated with obtaining domestic partner documents to gain legal abilities granted automatically by legal marriage, including power of attorney, health care decision-making, and inheritance
A legal spouse could inherit an unlimited amount from the deceased without incurring an estate tax but a same-sex partner would have to pay the estate tax on the inheritance from her/his partner
Same-sex couples were not eligible to file jointly as a married couple and thus could not take the advantages of lower tax rates when the individual income of the partners differs significantly (however, in early 2013 the IRS did recognize the community property and income of same-sex partners in community property states)
Only 18% of companies offered domestic partner health care benefits
Employer-provided health insurance coverage for a same-sex partner incurred federal income tax, unlike like coverage provided to a heterosexual couple
Higher health costs associated with lack of insurance and preventative care: 20% of same-sex couples had a member who was uninsured compared to 10% of married opposite-sex couples
Inability to protect jointly-owned home from loss due to costs of potential medical catastrophe
Some 7,400 companies were offering spousal benefits to same-sex couples as of 2008. In states that recognize same-sex marriages, same-sex couples can continue to receive those same benefits only if they marry.
Potential economic disadvantages
While the legal benefits of marriage are numerous, same-sex couples could face the same financial constraints of legal marriage as opposite-sex married couples. Such potential effects include the marriage penalty in taxation. Similarly, while social service providers usually do not count one partner's assets toward the income means test for welfare and disability assistance for the other partner, a legally married couple's joint assets are normally used in calculating whether a married individual qualifies for assistance.
Economic impact on the federal government
The 2004 Congressional Budget Office study, working from an assumption "that about 0.6 percent of adults would enter into same-sex marriages if they had the opportunity" (an assumption in which they admitted "significant uncertainty") estimated that legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States "would improve the budget's bottom line to a small extent: by less than $1 billion in each of the next 10 years". This result reflects an increase in net government revenues (increased income taxes due to marriage penalties more than offsetting decreased tax revenues arising from postponed estate taxes). Marriage recognition would increase the government expenses for Social Security and Federal Employee Health Benefits but that increase would be more than made up for by decreased expenses for Medicaid, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income.
Based in part on research that has been conducted on the adverse effects of stigmatization of gays and lesbians, numerous prominent social science organizations have issued position statements supporting same-sex marriage and opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; these organizations include the American Psychoanalytic Association and the American Psychological Association.
Several psychological studies have shown that an increase in exposure to negative conversations and media messages about same-sex marriage creates a harmful environment for the LGBT population that may affect their health and well-being.
One study surveyed more than 1,500 lesbian, gay and bisexual adults across the nation and found that respondents from the 25 states that have outlawed same-sex marriage had the highest reports of "minority stress"—the chronic social stress that results from minority-group stigmatization—as well as general psychological distress. According to the study, the negative campaigning that comes with a ban is directly responsible for the increased stress. Past research has shown that minority stress is linked to health risks such as risky sexual behavior and substance abuse.
Two other studies examined personal reports from LGBT adults and their families living in Memphis, Tennessee, immediately after a successful 2006 ballot campaign banned same-sex marriage. Most respondents reported feeling alienated from their communities. The studies also found that families experienced a kind of secondary minority stress, says Jennifer Arm, a counseling graduate student at the University of Memphis.
At the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial, expert witness Ilan Meyer testified that the mental health outcomes for gays and lesbians would improve if laws such as Proposition 8 did not exist because "when people are exposed to more stress...they are more likely to get sick..." and that particular situation is consistent with laws that say to gay people "you are not welcome here, your relationships are not valued." Such laws have "significant power", he said.
In 2009, a pair of economists at Emory University tied the passage of state bans on same-sex marriage in the US to an increase in the rates of HIV infection. The study linked the passage of same-sex marriage ban in a state to an increase in the annual HIV rate within that state of roughly 4 cases per 100,000 population.
Polling in states that have legalized same-sex marriage has shown that a majority of respondents generally agree the legalization of same sex marriage has had no effect on them.
A survey done by Public Policy Polling of 1,539 registered Massachusetts voters in May 2013 found that 60% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had "no impact" on their personal lives, with an additional 25% citing a "positive impact". Only 15% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had a "negative impact" on their personal lives.
A survey done by Public Policy Polling of 668 registered Iowa voters in July 2013 found that 63% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had "no impact" on their personal lives, with an additional 11% citing a "positive impact". The 26% citing a "negative impact" was driven by "very conservative" voters, of whom 70% said the legalization of same-sex marriage had a "negative impact". All other political ideologies agreed the legalization of same-sex marriage has had no impact on their personal lives.
A survey done by Public Policy Polling of 953 registered Maine voters in August 2013 found that 62% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had "no impact" on their personal lives, with an additional 18% citing a "positive impact". Only 20% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had a "negative impact" on their personal lives.
A survey done by Public Policy Polling of 1,354 registered New Hampshire voters in January 2014 found that 66% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had "no impact" on their personal lives, with an additional 20% citing a "positive impact". Only 14% of respondents claimed the legalization of same-sex marriage had a "negative impact" on their personal lives.
United States case law regarding same-sex marriage:
Baker v. Nelson, 191 N.W.2d 185 (Minn. 1971) (upholding a Minnesota law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman)
Jones v. Hallahan, 501 S.W.2d 588 (Ky. 1973) upholding the denial of a marriage license to two women in Kentucky based on dictionary definitions of marriage, despite the fact that state statutes do not restrict marriage to a male-female couple, because "in substance, the relationship proposed ... is not a marriage."
Singer v. Hara, 522 P.2d 1187 (Wash. Ct. App. 1974) (ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional on the basis of gender discrimination; because the historical definition of marriage is between one man and one woman, same-sex couples are inherently ineligible to marry)
Adams v. Howerton, 673 F.2d 1036 (9th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 458 U.S. 1111 (affirming that same-sex marriage does not make one a "spouse" under the Immigration and Nationality Act)
De Santo v. Barnsley, 476 A.2d 952 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1984) (same-sex couples cannot undergo divorce proceedings because they cannot enter a common law marriage)
In re Estate of Cooper, 564 N.Y.S.2d 684 (Fam. Ct. 1990) (the state has a compelling interest in fostering the traditional institution of marriage and prohibiting same-sex marriage)
Baehr v. Lewin, 852 P.2d 44 (Haw. 1993) (holding that statute limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violates the Hawaii constitution's equal-protection clause unless the state can show that the statute is (1) justified by compelling state interests and (2) narrowly tailored, prompting a state constitutional amendment and the federal Defense of Marriage Act)
Storrs v. Holcomb, 645 N.Y.S.2d 286 (App. Div. 1996) (New York does not recognize or authorize same-sex marriage); overturned in part by Martinez v. County of Monroe (2008) (out-of-state same-sex marriages must be recognized equal to out-of-state opposite-sex marriages because they do not violate public policy)
In re Estate of Hall, 707 N.E.2d 201, 206 (Ill. App. Ct. 1998) (no same-sex marriage will be recognized; petitioner claiming existing same-sex marriage was not in a marriage recognized by law)
Baker v. Vermont, 170 Vt. 194; 744 A.2d 864 (Vt. 1999) (Common Benefits Clause of the state constitution requires that same-sex couples be granted the same legal rights as married persons)
Rosengarten v. Downes, 806 A.2d 1066 (Conn. Ct. App. 2002) (Vermont civil union cannot be dissolved in Connecticut)
Burns v. Burns, 560 S.E.2d 47 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002) (recognizing marriage as between one man and one woman)
Frandsen v. County of Brevard, 828 So. 2d 386 (Fla. 2002) (State constitution will not be construed to recognize same-sex marriage; sex classifications not subject to strict scrutiny under Florida constitution)
In re Estate of Gardiner, 42 P.3d 120 (Kan. 2002) (a post-op male-to-female transgendered person may not marry a male, because this person is still a male in the eyes of the law, and marriage in Kansas is recognized only between a man and a woman)
Standhardt v. Superior Court ex rel. County of Maricopa, 77 P.3d 451 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2003) (no state constitution right to same-sex marriage)
Morrison v. Sadler, 2003 WL 23119998 (Ind. Super. Ct. 2003) (Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act is found valid)
Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003) (denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated provisions of the state constitution guaranteeing individual liberty and equality, and was not rationally related to a legitimate state interest)
Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, 455 F.3d 859 (8th Cir. 2006) (reversing 368 F. Supp. 2d 980 (D. Neb. 2005)) (Nebraska's Initiative Measure 416 does not violate Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, was not a bill of attainder, and does not violate the First Amendment; "laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples ... do not violate the Constitution of the United States")
Lewis v. Harris, 908 A.2d 196 (N.J. 2006) (New Jersey is required to extend all rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples, but prohibiting same-sex marriage does not violate the state constitution; legislature given 180 days from October 25, 2006 to amend the marriage laws or create a "parallel structure")
Andersen v. King County, 138 P.3d 963 (Wash. 2006) (Washington's Defense of Marriage Act does not violate the state constitution)
Hernandez v. Robles, 855 N.E.2d 1 (N.Y. 2006) (New York State Constitution does not require that marriage be extended to same-sex couples)
Langan v. St. Vincent's Hospital, 802 N.Y.S.2d 476 (App. Div. 2005), review denied, 850 N.E.2d 672 (N.Y. 2006) (denying survivor partner in Vermont officiated Civil Union standing as a "spouse" for purposes of New York's wrongful death statute)
Conaway v. Deane, 932 A.2d 571 (Md. 2007) (upholding state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman)
Martinez v. County of Monroe, 850 N.Y.S.2d 740 (App. Div. 2008). (The court ruled unanimously that because New York legally recognizes out-of-state marriages of opposite-sex couples, it must do the same for same-sex couples. The county was refused leave to appeal on a technicality.)
In re Marriage Cases, 183 P.3d 384 (Cal. 2008). (The court ruled that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is invalid under the equal protection clause of the California Constitution, and that full marriage rights, not merely domestic partnership, must be offered to same-sex couples.);
Varnum v. Brien, 763 N.W.2d 862 (Iowa 2009). (Barring same-sex couples from marriage, the court unanimously ruled, violates the equal protection provisions of the Iowa Constitution. Equal protection requires full marriage, rather than civil unions or some other substitute, for same-sex couples)
Gill v. Office of Personnel Management (2009–2013), Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is found unconstitutional in U.S. district court. This ruling is affirmed by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. Implementation stayed pending Windsor (see below) which ultimately resolves this case by finding Section 3 unconstitutional; hence Gill is dismissed.
Jackson v. Abercrombie (2011–present), Hawaii's denial of marriage to same-sex couples upheld in district court. As this was a pre-Windsor case, the court found Baker as controlling, and rejected plaintiffs' due process and equal protection claims. On appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Hawaii has since enacted same-sex marriage legislatively.
Sevcik v. Sandoval (2012–present), Nevada's denial of marriage to same-sex couples upheld in district court. Ruling appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The district judge found that any challenges are precluded by Baker, and if not, the discrimination described merits only rational basis review, and that "the protection of the traditional institution of marriage ... is a legitimate state interest." As this case was decided before Windsor, and since "rational basis review" in discrimination cases is no longer valid law in the 9th Circuit, Nevada has decided to no longer defend this case.
Hollingsworth v. Perry (2009–2013), California's proposition banning same-sex marriage is found unconstitutional in U.S. district court, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Proposition backers appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where they are found to have standing, but the district court's finding of unconstitutionality is narrowly upheld, Perry v. Brown. U.S. Supreme Court finds proposition backers lack standing, dismisses appeal, instructs the 9th circuit to vacate the appeal below, thus leaving the district court ruling intact.
Windsor v. United States (2010–2013) Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is found unconstitutional in U.S. district court. This ruling is affirmed by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, and after granting the petition of certiorari, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. government began implementing the decision the same week.
Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management (2010–2013), Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is found unconstitutional in U.S. district court, and that homosexuality is a quasi-suspect classification, meaning that discrimination in legislation such as the Act must substantially relate to an important government interest ("intermediate scrutiny"). On appeal case is held in abeyance pending the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Windsor. Since Windsor finds the same Section 3 unconstitutional, the appeal is ultimately ordered dismissed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Garden State Equality v. Dow (2011–2013), New Jersey's civil unions violate due process guarantees; denying same-sex marriage ruled unconstitutional in state superior court. The N.J. Supreme Court refuses to stay the ruling; and ultimately the state defendants drop their appeal.
Griego v. Oliver (2013), New Mexico's constitutional protections require marriage to be extended to same-sex couples in this N.M. Supreme Court ruling.
Obergefell v. Wymyslo (2013–present), Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage is found unconstitutional in U.S. district court, for the limited purpose of issuing death certificates.
Bishop v. Oklahoma (2004–present), Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage ruled unconstitutional in U.S. district court. Ruling stayed pending resolution of Kitchen v. Herbert.
Love v. Beshear, originally Bourke v. Beshear (2013–present), Kentucky's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions ruled unconstitutional; implementation of decision stayed until March 20, 2014. Additional plaintiffs challenge the state's denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples as well.
Harris v. Rainey (2013–present), Another Virginia case dealing with same-sex marriage in U.S. district court. This case has been certified as a class-action lawsuit on January 31, 2014, separate to the Bostic case.
Whitewood v. Wolf (2013–present), Pennsylvania same-sex marriage case currently set for trial in U.S. district court on June 9, 2014.
McGee v. Cole (2013–present), West Virginia same-sex marriage case survives a motion to dismiss in U.S. district court, with the court finding: "Doctrinal developments since Baker, however, do justify a finding that Baker is nonbinding."
^On February 21, 2014 a District Court judge ruled that same-sex couples could begin marrying immediately; though the ruling was effective for Cook County only. However, on February 26, 2014, a Champaign County clerk began issuing licenses without court order, after consulting the State Attorney and concluding that Cook County's order is applicable.
^Despite Illinois law not going into effect until June 1, 2014, the state's first legal same-sex wedding took place on November 27, 2013 when a court permitted a same-sex couple to get married early due to one of the participant's terminal cancer.
^Schlesinger, Richard (June 26, 2003). "High Court Rejects Sodomy Law". CBS News. "Of the 13 states with sodomy laws, four—Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri—prohibit oral and anal sex between same-sex couples. The other nine ban consensual sodomy for everyone: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia. Thursday's ruling apparently invalidates those laws as well."
^ ab"Annual Population Estimates". State Totals: Vintage 2013. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 14, 2014. The Census Bureau population estimate for 2013 was 316,128,839 for the states and the District of Columbia.
^Dang, Alain, and M. Somjen Frazer.. "Black Same-Sex Couple Households in the 2000 U.S. Census: Implications in the Debate Over Same-Sex Marriage." Western Journal of Black Studies 29.1 (Spring2005 2005): 521–530. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. September 30, 2009
^Barkacs, L. L. (2008). Same sex marriage, civil unions, and employee benefits: Unequal protection under the law – when will society catch up with the business community? Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues, 11(2), 33-44.
^Potoczniak, Daniel J.; Aldea, Mirela A.; DeBlaere, Cirleen "Ego identity, social anxiety, social support, and self-concealment in lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals." Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol 54(4), October 2007, 447–457.
^Balsam, Kimberly F.; Mohr, Jonathan J. "Adaptation to sexual orientation stigma: A comparison of bisexual and lesbian/gay adults." Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol 54(3), July 2007, 306–319.
^Rostosky, Sharon Scales; Riggle, Ellen D. B.; Gray, Barry E.; Hatton, Roxanna L. "Minority stress experiences in committed same-sex couple relationships." Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol 38(4), August 2007, 392–400.
^Szymanski, Dawn M.; Carr, Erika R. "The roles of gender role conflict and internalized heterosexism in gay and bisexual men's psychological distress: Testing two mediation models." Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol 9(1), January 2008, 40–54.
♦Marriages entered into in Utah between December 20, 2013 and January 6, 2014 due to the ruling in Kitchen v. Herbert are recognized for federal purposes but not by the state itself, except for the purpose of filing joint returns for state income taxes.