If you and your partner are planning to get married any time soon, you will need to get information on where you can legally get married. This is because the state you are in may not recognize your request to get married with your loved one. Worst case scenario, is that they have observed a strict ban on same-sex marriages. As such, you really need to know where you can get married without any issues involved. The last thing you’d want is having an anti-gay marriage rally waiting for you outside your wedding venue.
Throughout the US, Massachusetts was the first state to allow gay marriages. The ban was lifted on November 18, 2003. This was after a 4-3 ruling in favor of the opinion wherein same-sex marriage bans were a violation on the constitution of the state. This case referred to the Goodridge v. Mass. Department of Public Health 440 Mass. 309.
A majority said:
“[Prohibiting same-sex marriage] barred access to the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community’s most rewarding and cherished institutions. That exclusion is incompatible with the constitutional principles of respect for individual autonomy and equality under law.”
However, it was only in May 17, 2004 that Massachusetts started issuing marriage licenses. Another milestone is the passing of the bill wherein same-sex marriages were recognized as legal in other jurisdictions of the state. This was signed by Governor Deval Patrick in July 2008.
Following Massachusetts, Connecticut was the next state to legalize gay marriages. After denying the marriage licenses of 8 couples supposed to be wed in 2004, the Connecticut Supreme Court finally gave ruling to alter this on October 10, 2008. Again, the couples who fought for the legalization of gay marriages argued against grounds that the Connecticut Constitution was discriminating them against their sexual preferences.
A memorable quote from this event is:
“We conclude that, in light of the history of pernicious discrimination faced by gay men and lesbians, and because the institution of marriage carries with it a status and significance that the newly created classification of civil unions does not embody, the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm.“
A few days after legalizing gay weddings, marriage licenses were issued on Oct. 28, 2008.
It was in April 3, 2009 that an unanimous decision was made by the Supreme Court of Iowa. The decision was that the ban on gay marriages was a violation of the state’s constitution. Marriage licenses were then issued starting April 27, 2009.
The court said:
“We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification… We have a constitutional duty to ensure equal protection of the law. Faithfulness to that duty requires us to hold Iowa’s marriage statute, Iowa Code section 595.2, violates the Iowa Constitution. If gay and lesbian people must submit to different treatment without an exceedingly persuasive justification, they are deprived of the benefits of the principle of equal protection upon which the rule of law is founded.”
Even though Vermont already recognized civil unions in July 1, 2000, it wasn’t until April 7, 2009 that the state legalized civil marriages for couples of the same sex. This law came into effect last Sept. 1, 2009.
Before it was fully permitted, Gov. John Lynch had a strong desire to explicitly mention the rights of different religious institutions and their stand on same-sex weddings. As such, the bill went through a number of changes. Finally, the HB 0436 bill was signed by the Governor last June 3, 2009. The law came into effect a few months after, Jan. 1, 2010.
“This bill eliminates the exclusion of same gender couples from marriage, affirms religious freedom protections of clergy with regard to the solemnization of marriage, and provides a mechanism by which same gender couples who have entered into a civil union prior to the enactment of this bill may obtain the legal status of marriage.”
Just a few months ago, New York joined the list of the 6th US state to allow same-sex marriages. Signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the Marriage Equality Act was passed by the New York State Legislature last June 24, 2011. A month after that, the law came into full force in the state.
Compared with the other states that have allowed gay weddings, California is the state that has a complicated stand on this issue. The state has gone through a topsy-turvy battle against legalizing gay marriages. Currently, California is going through a Proposition 8 trial. There is a current ban on same-sex marriages in California.
“The difference between the measure proposed by Proposition 8 and the one contained in Proposition 22 is that Proposition 8 proposed to add this language as a provision of the California Constitution, whereas by Proposition 22 this language had been adopted as a statutory provision. (A California statute, of course, is invalid if it conflicts with the governing provisions of the California Constitution.)”(Page 18; Strauss v. Horton)
US States wherein same-sex weddings have been banned:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
[Source: States that Allow Gay Marriage | Care2]