The Associated Press
The Supreme Court issued a pair of decisions this week with major consequences for efforts to legalize or bar same-sex marriage. One ruling opened the way for California to become the 13th state to allow gay marriage; the other struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and directed the government to recognize legally married same-sex couples.
In light of the rulings, here's a summary of the laws on same-sex marriage in all 50 states, and a look at how the Supreme Court action might affect them:
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE STATES:
CALIFORNIA: The Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriages to resume in California for the first time since 2008, ruling that sponsors of the state's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban lack authority to defend it in court. A federal appeals court on Friday lifted the stay on same-sex marriages, saying the state is required to issue licenses to gay couples starting immediately.
CONNECTICUT: The state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in October 2008; marriages started the next month.
DELAWARE: A same-sex marriage bill was signed into law in May. A Democratic state senator and her partner will be the first couple in the state to have their civil union converted to marriage when the bill takes effect July 1.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The D.C. Council approved same-sex marriage in 2009; marriages began in March 2010.
IOWA: The state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. Conservative lawmakers have sought to change state law to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Those efforts have failed so far because Democrats controlling the state Senate have blocked any legislation from coming up for a vote. That's unlikely to change unless the GOP takes control of both chambers in 2014.
MAINE: Voters approved same-sex marriage last November, reversing results of a 2009 referendum that quashed a gay-marriage bill.
MARYLAND: The Legislature approved same-sex marriage in February 2012; the issue then won voter approval in a referendum last November.
MASSACHUSETTS: It was the first state to allow same-sex marriage. The state's Supreme Judicial Court ordered it legalized in 2003; marriages started in May 2004.
MINNESOTA: A same-sex marriage bill was signed into law in May. It takes effect Aug. 1.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Legislature approved same-sex marriage June 2009.
NEW YORK: The Legislature approved same-sex marriage in June 2011.
RHODE ISLAND: A same-sex marriage bill was signed into law in May. It takes effect Aug. 1.
VERMONT: The Legislature legalized same-sex marriage in 2009. Earlier, Vermont was the first state to offer civil unions to gay and lesbian couples.
WASHINGTON: The Legislature approved same-sex marriage in February 2012. It then won voter approval in referendum on Nov. 6, 2012.
CIVIL UNION STATES:
COLORADO: Gay-rights advocates were pleased that Colorado lawmakers approved a civil-union law this year that extends marriage-like rights to same-sex couples. But they still plan to push for the full status of marriage. That would entail either a lawsuit or a voter initiative to overturn a gay-marriage ban approved by voters in 2006.
HAWAII: Lawmakers passed a civil union law in 2011. It's being challenged in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by two women who want to marry rather than enter into a civil union. Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie supports same-sex marriage and says the U.S. Supreme Court rulings bolster his argument that the Constitution requires it.
ILLNOIS: Lawmakers approved civil unions in 2011, but an effort this year to legalize gay marriage fell short despite a push from Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The bill's sponsor, Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, says the Supreme Court rulings improve the chances in the next legislative session. Meanwhile, a right-to-marry lawsuit filed by more than two dozen gay couples is pending.
NEW JERSEY: Acting under an order from the state Supreme Court, the Legislature legalized civil unions in 2006. However, a pending lawsuit contends that civil unions do not fulfill the court's mandate that gay couples receive equal treatment. A hearing is scheduled for August. The Democratic-led Legislature passed a bill last to recognize gay marriage, but it was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie.
STATES WITH CONSTITUTIONAL BANS:
ALABAMA: Voters overwhelming approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 limiting marriage to one-man, one-woman unions. Democratic Rep. Patricia Todd, the only openly gay member of the Legislature, says she and her partner plan to file suit challenging the ban. "The state only moves forward on civil rights issues when forced by the federal courts," she says.