Same-Sex Marriage Legalization History
Same-sex relationships have been recorded since the beginning of civilization. Same-sex unions occurred in various forms, including informal, unsanctioned, and ceremonial marriages. The Ancient Roman Empire certainly did not shy away from same-sex unions. Many of the early Roman emperors were in homosexual relationships themselves, and there was widespread acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality among the Roman citizens. Nero, an early Roman emperor was known for his homosexuality. He had even been married to two men at different points in time. The acceptance of same-sex marriages changed to intolerance with the rise of Christianity, wherein Constantius II and Constans instituted a law that prohibited these unions and those who violated the law faced execution. As a result, same-sex marriages became a taboo for thousands of years, except in a few cases, like the case where Pedro Diaz and Muņo Vandilaz married in Spain during the Middle Ages.
The United States has a history of antagonistic viewpoints regarding same-sex marriage. The legality of same-sex marriages did not emerge to the mainstream until the 1970s. One of the first documented challenges to same-sex marriages occurred on May 18th, 1970, where two men applied for a marriage license in Heppenin County, Minnesota. Unfortunately, this request was denied by the Minnesota Supreme Court because it violated common law. The Court stated that marriage must only be granted between a man and a woman. Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, the same aforementioned couple, re-applied in a different Minnesota County in 1971. A Methodist minister officiated the marriage and signed the license, which made it a binding contract in the state of Minnesota. No federal or state courts ever invalidated the license obtained by the couple. Another couple challenged the civility of same-sex marriages in 1971. Faygele Ben-Miriam and Paul Barwick applied for a marriage license in Seattle as a statement of equality between homosexuals and heterosexuals. The county auditor refused their application. However, their actions were heard by other couples who encountered rejection. This sparked a media flurry and a popular lawsuit entitled Singer vs. Hara. The Washington State Court Appeals rejected this case with a unanimous decision in 1974. In 1973, the state of Maryland banned same-sex marriage. In 1975, the Arizona Supreme Court invalidated a same-sex marriage license granted to a couple by reason of trespassing biblical principles. In Colorado, a county clerk issued six same-sex marriage licenses, which became invalidated by state's DA's office later.
No major developments occurred during the 1980s, except for Denmark's remarkable progression towards the legal recognition of same-sex marriages as registered partnerships. Positive developments started towards the recognition of same-sex partnerships as marriages during the 1990s. For instance, Norway approved the registered partnerships bill in 1993. Shortly after, the Hawaii Supreme Court overruled the state's statutes that limited marriages to opposite sex couples by citing it unconstitutional without compelling evidence. In 1994, Sweden adopted the registered partnerships bill. Greenland and Iceland followed suit two years later. However, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. This piece of legislation banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions. It also led to a slew of U.S. states, such as Hawaii and Alaska, who signed amendments against same-sex unions in 1998. Meanwhile, the Netherlands passed a registered partnership bill in 1997. In 1999, Belgium approved of the registered partnership bill. The U.S. state of California signed a domestic partnership bill, which limited the rights of same-sex unions in 1999.
In 2000, Vermont signed a civil unions bill that granted same-sex couples equal rights as heterosexual marriages. This made Vermont the first U.S. state to recognize same-sex couples equal to their counterpart. That same year, Germany signed a bill recognizing life partnerships for same-sex couples. In addition, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands signed a same-sex marriage bill, one of the first of its kind in the world. In 2001, two same-sex couples eventually passed their bureaucracy in Ontario. This monumental move made them the first legal same-sex marriages in the modern world. The Netherlands also passed laws that granted same-sex unions the rights to adopt children. Sweden's parliament followed in the Netherlands' footsteps in 2002. Europe and Canada continued their strives by legalizing same-sex marriages in Belgium, British Columbia, and Ontario. In addition, Austria signs the registered partnerships bill into effect in 2003. In 2004, major headway started to come into full effect in the United States. For instance, the state of New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon. The state of Maine adopts a registered partnerships bill in the same year. Luxembourg approves of a civil partnerships bill. The United Kingdom's parliament legalizes civil partnerships. South Africa, New Zealand, and Israel followed suit with their own approvals.
In 2005, the state of Connecticut signed a same-sex civil union bill into effect. Andorra legalizes same-sex unions. Switzerland and Slovenia approves of the registered partnerships bill. The Canadian Senate legalizes same-sex marriage. In 2006 and 2007, several countries make forward progression in the recognition of same-sex registered partnerships, civil unions, and same-sex marriages. In 2008, the state of California officially legalizes same-sex marriages in addition to the state of Connecticut. However, a referendum overturns the legality of same-sex marriage in the state of California later that year. In 2009, the state of Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia legalize same-sex marriage. Sweden and Mexico also legalize same-sex marriage. During the 2010s, same-sex marriage legalization moves towards significant progression, with the states of New York and Washington signing it into law. A voters' referendum upheld same-sex marriage in the U.S. states of New York, Washington, and Maine. In 2013, the states of Rhode Island and Illinois approves of a same-sex marriage bill. The state of Colorado approves of a civil unions bill.
Follow these links to learn more about same-sex marriages:
- The History of Same-Sex Marriage (PDF)
- Same-Sex Marriage: A Selective Bibliography of the Legal Literature
- The Changing Debate on Same-Sex Marriage in the United States
- Same-Sex Marriage: U.S. States Recognition Chart
- Timeline of LGBT History
- Same-Sex Marriage Laws
- Unbinding the Ties: Edit Effects of Marital Statuson Same Gender Couples
- Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships
- Understanding And Presenting The CaseFor Same-Sex Marriage
- Domestic Partnerships and Same Sex Marriages: A Resource Page
- Same-Sex Marriage: A Summary of Court Cases in the U.S. and Abroad (PDF)
- PBS: Ballot Measures Have Historical Results on Same-Sex Marriage and Legal Marijuana
- Minnesota Public Radio: How the Minnesota Amendment was Defeated
- Freedom to Marry: States
- H.R. 3396 (104th): Defense of Marriage Act
- Basic Facts about the Defense of Marriage Act