When gay marriage became legal
- Physical health
- Before Obergefell
- Economic impact on the Federal Government
- Economic impact on same-sex couples
- Local laws prior to Obergefell v. Hodges
- Marriage statistics
- Effects of same-sex marriage
- State and territorial recognition
- Same-sex marriage in the United States
Prior to Obergefell, same-sex marriage was legal to at least some degree in thirty-eight states, one territory (Guam) and the District of Columbia; of the states, Missouri, Kansas, and Alabama had restrictions. Until United States v. Windsor, it was only legal in 12 states and Washington D.C.. Beginning in July 2013, over forty federal and state courts cited Windsor to strike down state bans on the licensing or recognition of same-sex marriage. Missouri recognized same-sex marriages from out of state and same-sex marriages licensed by the City of St. Louis under two separate state court orders; two other jurisdictions issued such licenses as well. In Kansas, marriage licenses were available to same-sex couples in most counties, but the state did not recognize their validity. Some counties in Alabama issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples for three weeks until the state Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop doing so. That court's ruling did not address the recognition of same-sex marriages already licensed in Alabama, but referred to them as "purported 'marriage licenses'". In two additional states, same-sex marriages were previously legal between the time their bans were struck down and then stayed. Michigan recognized the validity of more than 300 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples and those marriages. Arkansas recognized the more than 500 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples there, and the Federal Government had not taken a position on Arkansas's marriage licenses.
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The establishment of same-sex marriage is associated with a significant reduction in the rate of attempted suicide among children, concentrated among children of a minority sexual orientation. A study of nationwide data from across the United States from January 1999 to December 2015, conducted by the American Medical Association, revealed that the rate of attempted suicide among all schoolchildren in grades 9 to 12 declined by 7% and the rate of attempted suicide among schoolchildren of a minority sexual orientation in grades 9 to 12 declined by 14% in states which established same-sex marriage, resulting in approximately 134,000 fewer children attempting suicide each year in the United States. The researchers took advantage of the gradual manner in which same-sex marriage was established in the United States (expanding from 1 state in 2004 to all 50 states in 2015) to compare the rate of attempted suicide among children in each state over the time period studied. Once same-sex marriage was established in a particular state, the reduction in the rate of attempted suicide among children in that state became permanent. No reduction in the rate of attempted suicide among children occurred in a particular state until that state recognized same-sex marriage. The lead researcher of the study observed that "laws that have the greatest impact on gay adults may make gay kids feel more hopeful for the future".
The legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage in the United States are determined by the nation's federal system of government, in which the status of a person, including marital status, is determined in large measure by the individual states. Prior to 1996, the Federal Government did not define marriage; any marriage recognized by a state was recognized by the Federal Government, even if that marriage was not recognized by one or more states, as was the case until 1967 with interracial marriage, which some states banned by statute.
Economic impact on the Federal Government
On January 16, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear four cases, on appeal from the Sixth Circuit, on whether states may constitutionally ban same-sex marriages or refuse to recognize such marriages legally performed in another state. The cases were: Obergefell v. Hodges (Ohio), Tanco v. Haslam (Tennessee), DeBoer v. Snyder (Michigan), and Bourke v. Beshear (Kentucky). Decided by the court under the heading of Obergefell on June 26, 2015, in a judgement authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court reversed the Sixth Circuit's upholding of state bans and declared that the Court's rulings must evolve in the light of better understanding of discrimination and the constitutional protections available to protect individuals of a minority sexual orientation, and that same-sex couples have the constitutional rights to marry and to have their marriages recognized. Obergefell therefore overturned the Court's own prior ruling in Baker.
Same-sex marriage in the United States was established on a state-by-state basis, expanding from 1 state in 2004 to 36 states in 2015, when, on June 26, 2015, same-sex marriage was established in all 50 states as a result of the ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States in the landmark civil rights case of Obergefell v. Hodges, in which it was held that the right of same-sex couples to marry on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples, with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities, is guaranteed by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Economic impact on same-sex couples
Civil rights campaigning in favor of marriage without distinction as to sex or sexual orientation began in the 1970s. In the 1971 case Baker v. Nelson, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples did not violate the U.S. Constitution. On appeal, the United States Supreme Court denied to hear the case, establishing it as a federal precedent as it came from a mandatory appellate review. The issue did not become prominent in U.S. politics until the 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision in Baehr v. Lewin that declared that state's prohibition to be unconstitutional.
In June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that federal law could not treat as unequal, marriages that individual states had created as equally valid, when it overturned a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), thus forcing federal recognition of same-sex marriage and marriage-related benefits when related to a same-sex marriage performed by a state that sanctioned such marriages. In the two years following Windsor, U.S. district courts in 27 states[a] and state courts in six states,[b] plus one state court ruling addressing only the recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions,[c] found that same-sex marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution, while two U.S. district courts[d] and one state court[e] found that they did not. The flow of federal appeal cases rejecting same-sex marriage bans was finally interrupted in November 2014. In contrast to all other circuits that had ruled at the time, the Sixth Circuit ruled such bans to be constitutional. The panel ruling reversed six U.S. district court rulings that had found bans on same-sex marriage or its recognition to be unconstitutional, reinstating State bans in the four states served by that circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee).[f]
Local laws prior to Obergefell v. Hodges
Civil rights campaigning in favor of marriage without distinction as to sex or sexual orientation began in the 1970s. In 1972, the now overturned Baker v. Nelson saw the U.S. Supreme Court decline to become involved. The issue became prominent from around 1993, when the Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled in Baehr v. Lewin that the state's abridgment of marriage on the basis of sex was unconstitutional. The ruling led to federal actions and actions by several states to explicitly abridge marriage on the basis of sex in order to prevent the marriages of same-sex couples from being recognized. In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that it is unconstitutional for the state to abridge marriage on the basis of sex. From 2004 to 2015, as the tide of public opinion continued to move forward towards support of same-sex marriage, various state court rulings, state legislation, popular referendums, and federal court rulings established same-sex marriage in 36 states. In 2011, national public support for same-sex marriage rose above 50% for the first time. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision of DOMA, declaring part of it unconstitutional and in breach of the Fifth Amendment in United States v. Windsor. The ruling led to the federal government's recognition of same-sex marriage, with federal benefits for married couples connected to either the state of residence or the state in which the marriage was solemnized. However, the ruling focused on the provision of DOMA responsible for the federal government refusing to acknowledge state-sanctioned same-sex marriages, leaving the question of state marriage laws itself to the individual states. The U.S. Supreme Court addressed that question two years later in 2015, ruling, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that the right of same-sex couples to marry on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples, with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities, is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.
During the 21st century, while several countries elsewhere in the world were reforming marriage to be an institution without distinction as to sex or sexual orientation, public support in the U.S. for same-sex marriage has grown considerably, and national polls conducted since 2011 show that a majority of Americans support establishing it. However at the same time, many states also passed bans against same-sex marriage, either legislatively or by referendum. On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state and the sixth jurisdiction in the world to legalize same-sex marriage following the Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health six months earlier. On May 9, 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to publicly declare support for the legalization of same-sex marriage. On November 6, 2012, Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.