April 1, 2008

Gay Marriage Timeline

Timeline provided by Stateline.org
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 A history of same-sex marriage laws

Important events are listed in red

 1993

Hawaii Supreme Court rules the state must show a compelling reason to ban same-sex marriage and orders a lower court to hear a case seeking the right of same-sex couples to marry. (May)

 1995

Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) signs into law the first state Defense of Marriage statute, which stipulates that Utah does not have to recognize out-of-state marriages that violate state public policy. (March)

 1996

President Bill Clinton signs into law the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which upholds states’ rights to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed elsewhere. (September)

 1998

Alaska Superior Court judge rules that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry but stays the decision pending appeals to the state Supreme Court. (February)

Hawaii voters approve a state constitutional amendment reserving the right to define marriage to the Legislature. (November)

Alaska voters approve a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. (November)

 1999

Alaska Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples cannot seek the right to marry under the state constitution in light of the 1998 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. (September)

Vermont Supreme Court rules that the state Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the same rights to marriage as heterosexual couples. However, the court leaves it up to the Legislature to decide how to provide marriage rights and benefits to same-sex couples. (December)

 2000

Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) signs a civil union bill, making Vermont the first state to legally recognize same-sex couples. (April)

Nebraska voters approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. (November)

 2001

Seven same-sex Massachusetts couples file a lawsuit after being denied marriage licenses. In Goodridge et al. v. Department of Public Health, the couples seek the right to marry.

 2002

Nevada voters give final approval to a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Voters first approved the ban in 2000, but state law requires a majority vote in two consecutive election years to amend the constitution. (November)

 2003

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court, rules the state constitution guarantees equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. (Nov. 18)

 2004

New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D) signs a domestic partnership law granting same-sex couples certain rights, such as hospital visits. (Jan. 12)

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reaffirms its decision and specifies that only marriage rights – not civil unions – would provide equal protection under the state constitution. (February)

Massachusetts Legislature holds a constitutional convention to consider amending the state constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman. The measure fails to pass. (February)

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom authorizes city officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (February)

Sandoval, N.M., county clerks issue licenses to 26 same-sex couples before courts intervene. New Paltz, N.Y., Mayor Jason West begins officiating same-sex marriages and Multnomah County (Portland), Ore., commissioners issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (February through March)

President Bush announces support for federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Feb. 24)

California Supreme Court orders halt to San Francisco same-sex marriages. (March)

Massachusetts Legislature votes to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage but allow civil unions. Legislature must approve the measure again by 2006 before amendment can go to statewide vote. (March)

Massachusetts begins marrying same-sex couples. (May 17)

Voters in 13 states – Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah – approve constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. (August through November)

Montana Supreme Court rules that the gay and lesbian partners of Montana University employees have the same right to health insurance benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. (December)

 2005

Kansas voters approve constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. (April)

Oregon’s Supreme Court nullifies nearly 3,000 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in 2004 in violation of state law. (April 14)

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) signs bill authorizing civil unions for same-sex couples, effective Oct. 1. (April 20)

Federal judge strikes down a Nebraska constitutional amendment denying marriage rights to same-sex couples. (May)

California Supreme Court lets stand a new law creating domestic partners’ registry for same-sex couples. (June)

California Supreme Court issues first-of-its-kind ruling recognizing the co-parenting rights of same-sex couples. (August)

California state Assembly approves Senate-passed bill to legalize same-sex marriage, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoes it. (September)

Massachusetts Legislature defeats proposal at second constitutional convention to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage but allow civil unions. (September)

Alaska Supreme Court rules that state and local governments must offer the same benefits to employees’ same-sex partners that they do to spouses. (October)

Washington state Supreme Court recognizes co-parenting rights of same-sex couples. (November)

Texas voters approve constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. (November)

Maine voters reject attempt to repeal a state law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. (November)

 2006

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upholds a 1913 state law banning out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if the marriage is illegal in their home state. (March)

Alabama voters approve constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. (June)

New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, rules that the state constitution does not guarantee same-sex couples equal access to the rights and privileges of marriage. (July 6)

Georgia Supreme Court reinstates constitutional ban against same-sex marriage that had been thrown out by a lower court on procedural grounds. (July)

Connecticut judge rules that banning same-sex marriage does not violate same-sex couples’ constitutional rights because the state’s new civil union law provides similar protections. (July 12)

Washington state Supreme Court rules that the state constitution does not guarantee same-sex couples equal access to the rights and privileges of marriage. (July 28)

New Jersey Supreme Court rules that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples all of the legal benefits of marriage but stops short of legalizing same-sex marriage. (Oct. 25)

Voters in seven states – Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin – approve constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. (Nov. 7)

Arizona becomes the first state to reject at the ballot box a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and other benefits for unmarried couples. (Nov. 7)

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D), in the wake of a court order, signs a bill permitting same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, granting the same state benefits conferred on married couples. (December)

 2007

Michigan appeals court rules that state’s ban on gay marriage prohibits state and local governments and public universities from offering health benefits to partners in same-sex relationships. (February)

New Jersey begins accepting applications for civil unions. (Feb. 19)

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch issues legal opinion advising state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts. (Feb. 21)

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) signs bill creating same-sex domestic partnership starting July 22, 2007. The law also applies to senior heterosexual couples. (April 22)

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) signs bill creating same-sex domestic partnerships starting January 1, 2008. (May 9)

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) signs bill creating same-sex civil unions. (May 31)

Massachusetts lawmakers uphold the state’s court-imposed gay marriage law, protecting it from constitutional ban for at least five years. (June 14)

Maryland’s highest court overturns a lower court decision, ruling that same-sex couples do not have a constitutional right to marry. (Sept. 18)

 2008

California Supreme Court hears oral arguments in case determining whether the state’s domestic partnership law adequately fulfills the equal rights of gay couples. (March 4)

Washington state Legislature approves bill expanding rights conveyed under the state’s 2007 domestic partnership law. (March 4)

California Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, rules that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. (May 15)

Source: Stateline.org reporting
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