On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all 50 U.S. states. This ended a complicated situation in which some states had legalized same-sex marriage or other alternatives, such as a civil union or a domestic partnership. Other states did not recognize these relationships, disallowing same-sex couples any legal benefits associated with marriage.
Recognition of same-sex marriage in the United States has meant that there is no legal difference between a same-sex marriage and a heterosexual marriage in any state. It has also meant that the same rules and rights related to marriage apply to all couples, including those having to do with property rights, estate planning, and divorce.
International Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage
Other countries have also fully recognized same-sex marriage. However, this recognition does not always extend to territories held by these countries. As of October 2015, these countries include:
- Argentina (July 22, 2010)
- Belgium (June 1, 2003)
- Brazil (May 16, 2013)
- Canada (July 20, 2005)
- Denmark (June 15, 2012)
- Finland (Signed on February 20, 2015; takes effect on March 1, 2017)
- France (May 18, 2013)
- Iceland (June 27, 2010)
- Ireland (Signed into law on August 29, 2015)
- Luxembourg (January 1, 2015)
- Mexico (not performed in all states but recognized in all states since August 10, 2010)
- The Netherlands (April 1, 2001)
- New Zealand (August 19, 2013)
- Norway (January 1, 2009)
- Portugal (June 5, 2010)
- South Africa (November 30, 2006)
- Spain (July 3, 2005)
- Sweden (May 1, 2009)
- The United Kingdom (England/Wales – March 13, 2014; Scotland – December 16, 2014)
- Uruguay (August 5, 2013)
Do I Need an Attorney If I Am Marrying My Same-Sex Partner?
While same-sex marriage is now fully legal in the United States, marriage is always a complex legal arrangement that requires careful consideration. If you are planning to marry, you may wish to consult with a local family law attorney before doing so, especially if you have issues such as a prenuptial agreement that need to be sorted out beforehand.