States Where Same-sex Marriage is Legal

State Same Sex Marriage

Nowadays, non-heterosexual people have the same rights as straight people in the USA. They can marry without fear that society will judge them. If they have a child, its rights will be protected by the local laws. There are not many countries that protect people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. There’s scarcely anything else outside of Europe and the United States.


Sooner or later, every same-sex couple living in the USA faces a question of marriage. Fortunately, most states have legalized same-sex weddings. Still, there are several where it’s still prohibited. We are going to tell you which states are better to choose, and which ones do not allow LGBTQ+ people to marry. 

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Relevant information from the Supreme Court include 37 states where marriage between homosexual persons is legal. Along with that, the District of Columbia allows it as well. 

The governors of other states disagree with such policy towards gay weddings. President Bill Clinton signed the “Defense of Marriage Act” into law in 1996. It’s also known as DOMA. The third section of this act said the following, “The government couldn’t recognize one-sex couples’ weddings. Even if they were able to marry in their home state, that wasn’t considered legal.”

Right now, the third section of the “Defense of Marriage Act” is not valid. That’s because it contradicts one of the Constitution’s rights. It reads that all citizens of the country should be equally protected. Still, the second section wasn’t changed. It reads that the state governors have the right not to recognize gay matrimony. This is for those people who got married in places where it’s allowed. In that way, gay spouses are still not fully protected. 

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Since 2004, a long process of one-sex matrimony recognition had begun. Today all the parts of the country can allow such marriages.

Benefits of Marriage

Even straight people don’t hurry to marry in the modern world. Sometimes they have a solid reason not to do that. But, in general, simple cohabitation doesn’t give any rights or social guarantees. Especially, when it comes to LGBTQ+ persons. Well, the majority of people can live without those benefits that matrimony provides. But it becomes a crucial factor when the couple is planning to have children. Since most of them do, we will tell you about the advantages. 

  • Social benefits for widows and widowers. They can get social security payments.
  • Military spouses get a housing allowance, health insurance, and so on.
  • Binational couples are protected by immigration policy.
  • Income tax can be filed jointly.
  • Health insurance is provided.

Along with the mentioned above rights, there is something else. Gay couples can protect their property while being married and after divorce. Married people have the right to visit their spouses in the hospital. Furthermore, they can raise children just as opposite-sex spouses can do.

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In the case of the partner’s death, it’s easier to get security payments. Unmarried couples often have no such possibility. On the whole, gay spouses now have the same rights as heterosexual relationships. We believe that it’s a big step. 


This paragraph is not supposed to dissuade you from marriage. However, we do believe that every person that is going to get married should understand the consequences. 

The marriage process is full of formalities that should be observed. Whether you like or not, you and your partner have to do this. Formalities include a pile of documents and going through official authorities. Still, if your intentions are serious, this fear should not stop you.

Perhaps you don’t even think about a possibility of divorce, but things happen. In this case, the property should be equally divided between the spouses. Many things can’t be simply divided into two parts (furniture, home appliances, land). That’s why the process may become very long. Apart from unnecessary formalities, this brings a lot of mental suffering. Just imagine arguing with someone you once loved for such a silly reason as the refrigerator. After a divorce, many people suffer from depression. They often don’t even want to marry again. 

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Apart from these two points, there are no serious drawbacks of one-sex marriage, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be considered. 

The Best Places to Marry

Before we tell you where you can have your dream wedding, get familiar with this following statistic. The majority of gay and lesbian marriages take place in certain territories, which are the eastern and south-western parts of the United States. San Diego is the most popular city. Others are Santa Fe, New York, Chicago, Burlington, amongst others.

Seattle is a favourite place of gay and lesbian couples. The spouses are unlikely to face any discrimination and humiliation. This city is famous for its inhabitants’ tolerance towards homosexual families.

San Francisco is not only warm but also an LGBTQ-friendly place. A certain benefit is that same-sex couples may have an easier time finding a job here.

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Another city is Portland. This is a prosperous city with plenty of prospects for its inhabitants and visitors. Portland has a high rate of gay weddings. 

Santa Rosa is known as a large wine producer, which can be enticing for weddings. The local government protects the one-sex spouses’ rights very well. 

You may have the impression that the best places are situated on the western coast. This is not true. A perfect example is Boston, a great city to live in and be protected by laws. Moreover, Massachusetts became the first state that allowed same-sex couples to marry. 

For some reason, most cities with a high rate of one-sex marriages are located on the sea coasts. We don’t know why is that. The fact remains that if you want to choose a comfortable place for your future life, reflect on this information.

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The Church’s Attitude 

Most religious organizations refuse to recognize homosexual marriage. Since being homosexual is considered to be a sin, there is often judgement. Some Christians believe that God encourages any act of love, no matter who you love. Your heart made its choice for you.

Knowing this, what if you would like to have a wedding in the church? If both of you are deeply faithful, it may be very important for you. There are some churches that allow one-sex couples to marry. 

Most churches are Catholic. For example, the American National Catholic Church, or the Evangelical Catholic Church. There are several Anglican and Baptist churches. Others are Lutheran, Pentecostal, Reformed, and so on. Besides, 5 years ago, the Presbyterian denomination recognized gay marriage as well. It has about 2 million members, so that was a remarkable event. 

When Same-Sex Marriage Was Recognized

State Same Sex Marriage
Same-sex marriage law in the United States by state

The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples should have the right to marry each other. Otherwise, that would violate Constitutional law. After that, states gradually started to recognize matrimony between LBGTQ+ people.

Having begun in 2004, this process lasted for more than a decade. Massachusetts was the first state to recognize same-sex weddings. Four years later, Connecticut went down the same path. However, most states legalized same-sex marriage in 2014-2015. 

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The reason is that conservative territories such as Texas enacted bans on same-sex matrimony. It happened after 2004, and lasted for several years till 2008. The main wave of gay weddings came in the early 2010s. 

Right now, there are 13 states that haven’t yet legalized gay marriage. Approximately 55% of Americans believe that homosexual couples should have the same rights, while about 37% are convinced that such an arrangement contradicts their beliefs. 

European countries decided this question much earlier. The first country to recognize same-sex matrimony was the Netherlands. The latest territories are Northern Ireland (2019) and Taiwan (2020). As for Taiwan, this is the first place in South-West Asia where LGBTQ+ people are allowed to marry. 

The following passages will describe how and when the states legalized same-sex matrimony.


This state was the earliest to legalize same-sex marriage. That’s why it deserves a separate paragraph. The former chief justice of Massachusetts spoke out about her view on the question in 2003. Margaret Marshall’s attitude towards gay matrimony was positive. She insisted on allowing LGBTQ+ people to marry. 

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She said that marriage was one of the most important social institutions. It would be not fair to deprive people of the right to marry each other. Different sexual orientation should not be an excuse for any form of discrimination. 

At the same time, more than 30 states passed bans on same-sex marriage. The answer to the question was postponed until 2008.


Inhabitants of this state have had the right to marry a person of the same sex since November 12, 2008. But fighters for gay rights had a long journey to get there. LGBTQ+ people’s protectors started a case in 2004. They wanted to give them the freedom to choose whom to marry.

Next year, the ice had broken. Same-sex couples were allowed to live together. That was called a “civil union”. However, official matrimony was still not legalized. That civil union didn’t provide any special rights. In 2006, the local Superior Court Judge spoke out against permitting gay couples to marry. He considered that civil union was good enough for them. 

Those who wanted to marry a partner of the same sex were finally given the right. It happened after half a year, on January 31, 2007. Still, there were many things to decide. That wasn’t a thing that could be done in a few days. It took more than a year before same-sex marriage law began to work. In 2009, the couples that lived in so-called civil unions got a new status of married people.

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You may have noticed we are going in chronological order. So, Iowa was next after Massachusetts and Connecticut. The situation was like in the major part of the United States. In the late 90s, the definition of marriage read that only a man and a woman could marry. People began to discuss whether a same-sex couple should have the same rights. The discussion was long and lasted till 2005.

It didn’t happen immediately, since any change is a gradual process. In December 2005, a case was filed. Gay and lesbian advocacy groups sought for a way to allow same-sex couples to marry. During the process, one couple even managed to get married. Two years later, supporters of the gay rights movement achieved impressive results. Same-sex marriage was legalized.


People of this state started to fight for their rights a long time ago, in 1997. The LGBTQ+ community began to struggle with the local laws. They prohibited same-sex people from getting married. Many years went by before the solution was made.

Later, the local Supreme Court ruled that sexual minorities should have equal rights to heterosexual couples. The Vermont legislature had a difficult task to do. They were looking for a solution that would be suitable for everyone. 

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In 2000, gay and lesbian couples got the right to form a civil union. Just like in Connecticut, it didn’t provide the same rights as a marriage. People living in those civil unions didn’t get any benefits. Only official matrimony could bring those.

The society, the court, and the advocacy groups discussed many things. They talked about whether homosexual people should be allowed to marry. They tried to find a way out for eight years. Finally, in 2009, the veto from Governor Jim Douglas was cancelled. After four years, the citizens of Vermont voted to protect the freedom of matrimonial choice.

New Hampshire

This state was one of the first where the question was raised. Back in 1987, the local legislature prohibited gay and lesbian couples from marrying or forming any union. Thirty years later, the LGBTQ+ rights movement had begun. The first step was the legalizing of civil unions. Gay and lesbian couples could count on certain protections, but nothing more. 

The period between 2008 and 2009 was known for its serious conversations. The population was involved in the discussion. New Hampshire citizens tried to understand LGBTQ+ people. They discussed why sexual minorities should have equal rights to straight people. Governor John Lynch signed the law that guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry. Besides, the spouses were supposed to get the state benefits.

But two years later, in 2011, the opponents began to act. They tried to make the Court repeal the decision. Both parties supported the movement against the same-sex marriage law. Anyway, despite all the attempts, the right to marry a person of any sex was granted.

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New York

We can’t describe the situation in every state, so this one will be the last one. New York is considered to be the most LGBTQ+-friendly place in the country. That’s why we are going to explain how and when gay marriage was recognized there.

The mayor of the city was known for helping gay couples. He married 25 of them in 2004. Soon an order from above came. He was forbidden from continuing the process. But other mayors of New York recognized these weddings. A year later, Justice Doris Ling-Cohan said that the marriages may not be denied. That meant a lot for the gay and lesbian advocacy groups. 

During five years, from 2006 to 2011, great work was done. The local population was involved in discussions about marriage. Thus, the ground was prepared. In 2011, the law that provided the freedom of marriage was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. So, the most famous state in the country allowed same-sex couples to marry. Other ones started to follow its example. Nowadays, New York is known for the biggest LGBTQ+ community in the country.


We have listed every state where same-sex couples are allowed to marry. You can also find the best places for gay spouses to live in this article. If you wish, you can even get married in a church. Some couples want to do it in front of God. The right to marry a person of the same sex was granted to all states in June 2015.

It’s you who decides whether to get officially married or not. Nowadays, there are plenty of people who live together for years and call themselves a family. We believe that no stamp in your passport will make you a real family. But, if you want to have the rights and benefits, marriage provides that.

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Couples who want to raise children are better off getting married. That will guarantee certain rights to future kids. But we recommend you consider all the pros and cons before the wedding. There’s nothing sadder than a quick divorce after a happy wedding. We also recommend you think twice if only one partner really wants to get married. After all, everyone deserves to be happy.

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