Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. - Jeremiah 1:5a

Legal Status of Same-Sex Marriage in the U.S. and the World

The following is a worldwide look at the legal status of same-sex marriage around the globe in all or part of the country listed:

Belgium - Became legal in 2003, the 2nd nation in the world to permit same-sex marriage with some restrictions.

Canada - The Canadian House of Commons voted to revamp the traditional definition of marriage. The legislation became law in June 2005.

France - French President Francois Hollande signed same-sex marriage into law on May 17, 2013, to make the country the 14th in the world to approve marriage among same-sex couples.

Malta - Malta legalized same-sex civil unions in April 2014, becoming the 22nd European country to recognize same-sex unions and the 10th to allow gay couples to adopt children.

The Netherlands - Became legal in 2001, the first country in the world to allow same-sex marriage.

New Zealand - On April 17, 2013, New Zealand became the 13th country in the world and the first in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize same-sex marriage.

Norway - Became the 6th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage on January 1, 2009.

South Africa - Became 5th nation to allow gay marriage in 2005.

Spain - Became legal in June 2005. Same-sex couples are given the same rights as couples in a traditional marriage, including the adoption of children and full inheritance rights.

Sweden - Became legal on May 1, 2009, the 7th nation to allow same-sex marriage.

Uruguay - Uruguay became the second South American country to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Lower House approved the change in the nation's definition of marriage on April 10, 2013.

United States:

* On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, invalidating a provision of DOMA that failed to allow married same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.

The California Supreme Court ruled on May 15, 2008, that same sex couples had the right to marry in California. Proposition 8, which limits marriage to one man and one woman, was passed on November 4, 2008. The decision was later appealed. Same-sex marriages performed before Proposition 8 was passed remain valid, but same sex marriages are not performed in California. On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court left in place a trial court's ruling that California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. The Court justices ruled in Hollingsworth v. Perry (Proposition 8) that Prop 8 defendants had no standing to argue before the case, remanding the case back to Federal District Court.  The ruling clears the way for same-sex marriage in California once the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses the appeal.

In October 2008, the Connecticut Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Delaware became the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage. Gov. Jack Markell signed the bill into law on May 7, 2013.

District of Columbia
The DC Council passed a law allowing same-sex marriage in December 2009. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in the Washington, DC marriage battle, thus allowing same-sex couples to marry in the District of Columbia beginning March 3, 2010.

On April 3, 2009, Iowa’s Supreme Court justices upheld a lower-court ruling that rejected a state law restricting marriage to a union between a man and woman.

Maine became the first state to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote on November 6, 2012. The approval of Question 1 overturned a voter-approved 2009 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in the state.

Maryland's ballot measure to legalize same-sex marriage narrowly passed on November 6, 2012. Voters rejected efforts to invalidate statutes legalizing same-sex marriage that had been enacted earlier in 2012.

On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.

On May 14, 2013, Minnesota became the 14th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage and the first state in the Midwest to legalize it by legislative vote.

New Hampshire
Legislation of same-sex marriage in New Hampshire was signed into law by the governor on June 3, 2009.

New York
Same-sex marriage in New York became legal on July 24, 2011, after the state legislature passed the measure; Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law on the same day.

Rhode Island
On May 2, 2013, Rhode Island became the 10th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.

On April 7, 2009, Vermont became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage, after lawmakers overrode a veto by Gov. James Douglas.

Washington became the 3rd state to legalize same-sex marriage at the ballot box on November 6, 2012. Same-sex marriage became effective in the state on December 6, 2012.

Updated: April 21, 2014

Gay Marriage Commentary by Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, CLR
State-By-State Status of Traditional Marriage

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