Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage

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Same Sex-Marriage in the United States

Same-sex marriage in the United States is complicated because almost all matters related to family law are governed exclusively by individual states.

What Is the Federal Government’s Stance on Same Sex Marriage?

The federal government generally has no say in the category of marriage, except where federal benefits have been at issue. The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed in 1996, prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in any state, and made clear that states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

In 2013, the Supreme Court declared a section of DOMA unconstitutional. This allowed same-sex living in a state that recognizes their marriage to receive federal benefits. 

Which States Recognize Same-Sex Marriage?

As of early 2014, there are 19 jurisdictions in the U.S. that perform and recognize same-sex marriages. They are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C.
Additionally, there are states that do not perform or recognize same-sex marriages, but offer legal unions, commonly called “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships,” which offer some or most of the legal benefits of marriage. Finally there are a few states which do not recognize or perform same-sex marriages, but will perform divorces of same-sex couples who married in another state, and have since moved.

Which States Recognize Legal Unions Other Then Marriage?

The following states offer civil unions:

The following states offer domestic partnerships:

Do I Need An Attorney If I Am In a Same Sex Relationship?

The legal status of same-sex marriage in the United States is complicated, and is likely to change over the years. Accordingly, if you face a question about exactly what rights your same-sex union affords to you or your partner, you should consult with a local family law attorney.

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Last Modified: 06-05-2014 11:55 AM PDT

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