Is gay marriage legal in all 50 states?

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In this brief guide we are going to answer the question ‘’Is gay marriage legal in all 50 states?’’ we will see in which U.S. states same-sex marriage is legal and the benefits of this decision.

Is gay marriage legal in all 50 states?

Yes, gay marriage is legal in all 50 states since 2015. On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-to-4 that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry under the 14th Amendment and that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage is legal throughout the United States. The Supreme Court, the highest judicial instance in this country, declared illegal the laws that in 14 states prohibited same-sex marriages.

After decades of struggle, in just a few years the Americans and their leaders, who until recently were opposed to equal rights for gays and lesbians, have made an irreversible change. The decision, compared to the 1954 decision outlawing racial segregation in schools, brings to a close an era of discrimination…

“This ruling is a victory for America,” said Barack Obama. “When all Americans are treated as equals, we are all freer.” Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, director of the Ohio Department of Health, et al. will go down in the history books with other cases like Brown v. Topeka Board of Education or Roe v. Wade, which have transformed America.

James Obergefell and the other plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to outlaw laws in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The court, by a 5-4 vote, upheld Obergefell. Anthony Kennedy, the centrist justice who usually breaks the tie in close decisions and who wrote the ruling, argued that the laws of these four states violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which enshrines equality under the law and, according to the ruling, “requires the state to marry two persons of the same sex.” “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” Kennedy wrote in reference to the plaintiffs. “The Constitution guarantees them this right.”

Automatically, the decision on the four respondent states applies to the ten that allowed only a man to marry a woman. At a stroke, homosexual marriage, hitherto legal in 36 states, is now legal in all 50 states of the Union, without exception.

Chronology of same-sex marriage in the U.S.

1971: The Minnesota Supreme Court upholds a lower court’s decision denying Michael McConnell and Jack Baker a marriage certificate. It is held that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to same-sex marriage.

1973: Maryland becomes the first state to ban gay marriage by law. It will be followed by many others, reaching nearly the entire U.S. in the 1990s.

1993: The Hawaii Supreme Court rules that state legislation allowing only opposite-sex marriage is “unconstitutional” unless the state provides a compelling reason to justify it.

1996: Democratic President Bill Clinton enacts the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Years later, in early 2013, Clinton himself will speak out against the law he signed.

1999/2000: The Vermont Supreme Court rules that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is against the state constitution. Vermont becomes the first state to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples (but not marriage).

2004: Massachusetts becomes the first US state to legally recognize same-sex marriage, following a decision by the local Supreme Court. The new law goes into effect on May 17. Over the next few years, and especially by the end of the decade, several more states follow suit.

2008: California passes Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage. Similar amendments are passed in Arizona and Florida.

2009: In application of Proposition 8, a California official denies a marriage license to the lesbian couple Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, who file a lawsuit in state court that leads to the case now before the Supreme Court.

2010: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) files suit against the federal government on behalf of a gay married spouse whose partner died. He was charged the estate taxes applicable to those who are not married.

2012: Maine, Maryland and Washington become the first states to approve same-sex marriage by referendum. In May Barack Obama becomes the first U.S. president to publicly express support for gay marriage.

2013: In the midst of the gay marriage debate, more and more prominent U.S. politicians come out openly in favor of it, most recently former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in mid-March.

What rights and benefits do same-sex marriages offer?

Same-sex marriage confers many benefits, including:

  • Tax benefits: the ability to file a joint income tax return.
  • Employment benefits: ability to collect partner’s insurance.
  • Medical benefits: make medical decisions in the event the spouse becomes incapacitated.
  • Death benefits: access to probate.

This list is not exclusive; there may be other legal and non-legal benefits of same-sex marriage.

References

Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Legal In All 50 States. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/26/417717613/supreme-court-rules-all-states-must-allow-same-sex-marriages

Gay marriage legal in all 50 US states, thanks to Supreme Court ruling: https://theconversation.com/gay-marriage-legal-in-all-50-us-states-thanks-to-supreme-court-ruling-43959

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