One of the most controversial and ever-changing issues, facing American society today, is the issue of same-sex or gay marriage. Same-sex marriage is not recognized by government or Federal law, due to the Defense of Marriage Act (1996). According to the DOMA act, a marriage is defined in Federal law, as a union between a man and a woman. But state laws are separate and hence, some states issue gay marriage licenses, allowing for same-sex marriage. With all the ups and downs, that take place with the same-sex rights, a common question is "how many states allow gay marriage?". Some states have civil unions, some ban same-sex marriages completely. In this article, read on to learn, which states in the U.S.A identify same-sex marriages as legal.
States That Allow Gay Marriage
Only 5 states and 1 district allow same-sex marriages, in the U.S.A. They are
- New Hampshire
- District of Columbia
- New York
- Rhode Island
The state of California has a difficult history with same-sex marriages. In 2004, same-sex marriages took place in San Francisco when, then Mayor, Gavin Newsom allowed the issuing of gay marriage licenses. That very year, the California Supreme court declared those marriages void. In 2005 and 2007, then Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed same-sex marriage bills. So, same-sex marriages were banned. In May 2008, the Supreme Court overturned the ban, and allowed gay marriages to take place from June 2008. However in November, Proposition 8 was passed, banning gay marriage in the state of California. Any same-sex marriages conducted, prior to the passing of Prop 8 are recognized. But no new licenses would be issued.
Where is Gay Marriage Banned?
29 states have a constitutional ban against same-sex marriages, specifying that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Those states are:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
What are Civil Unions?
A legally recognized union, also known as a registered partnership or civil partnership. There are supporters and critics of civil unions alike. Critics say that, civil unions are same-sex marriages, without using the term "marriage". So it's a socially appeasing way, where gays can be married but in a different sense from heterosexuals. Those in support of civil unions, feel that heterosexual rights are given to gays, through such unions. But civil unions give no Federal benefits and their validity is restricted to states, that grant civil unions.
States in the U.S, that allow civil unions, with nearly all state-recognized rights of marriage are:
- California (Domestic Partnership)
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
- Oregon (Domestic Partnership)
- District of Columbia (Domestic Partnership)
- Washington (Domestic Partnership)
- Nevada (Domestic Partnership)
Perhaps the fight for same-sex marriages is so important, because of the legal and social benefits involved. There are approximately 1400 legal rights, given to heterosexual married couples in the United States. Hospital and parents rights, tax returns and credits, child support, survivor medical care and death benefits are just a few. The gay marriage debate see-saws, with time. In 2010, Proposition 8 was overturned. In Feb 2011, the Obama administration has agreed to scrutinize the Defense of Marriage Act, for discrimination. So, at the moment, the situation of same-sex marriages is uncertain, since the tide of support can swing in any direction.