This Is Where Marriage Equality Stands on Its 10th Birthday
It's a big week for same-sex marriage in the U.S., for three reasons.
1. Legal same-sex marriage in Arkansas
On Thursday, Arkansas added itself to the list of states that have legalized same-sex marriage. (Out of all of the states without same-sex marriage, was anyone expecting Arkansas to be the one to legalize it next?)
Even though there was an immediate negative reaction to the ruling ...
You know there's something wrong with the world when gay marriage is legal in Arkansas. Wow. no. Please. no.
— |•Tanner•| (@TannerWilkins10) May 11, 2014
... Judge Chris Piazza issued his final order on Thursday - and Pulaski County will begin issuing marriage licenses immediately.
BREAKING: Judge strikes down all Arkansas laws banning gay marriage, won't put ruling on hold.
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 15, 2014
2. Big ruling in Idaho
Meanwhile, a federal judge ruled that Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The changes were supposed to take effect today, but don't hold your breath. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals swooped in and delayed when the changes would actually happen ... for now.
3. The 10th anniversary of legal same-sex marriage
On May 17, 2004, the first ever legal same-sex marriages in the U.S. took place in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage, and on May 17, 2004, couples across the state were able to enjoy the right to marry.
Ten years later, a lot has changed - but a lot has stayed the same too. Just how far have we come as a country in the last decade when it comes to marriage equality?
These are the 17 states* where same-sex marriage is legal
— Deval Patrick (@DevalPatrick) May 16, 2014
Here's where we stand as a country in 2014.
6 states have legalized same-sex marriage by court decision:
- Massachusetts - 2004
- Connecticut - 2008
- Iowa - 2009
- California - 2013
- New Jersey - 2013
- New Mexico - 2013
8 more states legalized it via their state legislature:
- Vermont - 2009
- New Hampshire - 2010
- Delaware - 2013
- Hawaii - 2013
- Minnesota - 2013
- New York - 2011
- Rhode Island - 2013
- Illinois - takes effect June 1, 2014
3 states legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote:
- Maine - 2012
- Washington - 2012
- Maryland - 2013
That brings the total number of states where same-sex marriage is legal to 17*. Why the asterisk? Because it's legal in the District of Columbia, too, home of our nation's capital, Washington.
We may see more states added to this list in 2014. Judges in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas and Michigan have ruled that their state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but all of those decisions have been stayed - put on hold - due to appeals.
Utah: polygamy is okay. Even having tv shows about it. But NO gay marriage. That's wrong. Absolutely not okay. pic.twitter.com/o9eeaERCO0
— queen b (@lesbriana_) May 5, 2014
That means same-sex marriage isn't legal in 33 states
Don't see your state above? Then it's one of the 33 where gay marriage is still banned.
Just so everyone's knows. Wisconsin banned gay marriage in 1979 which was 15 years before any other state. Now there are 33 states.
— Ryley Holden (@BigSex5313) May 13, 2014
In 26 states it's banned by a constitutional amendment AND the state law:
- Alabama (2006, 1998)
- Alaska (1998, 1996)
- Arizona (2008, 1996)
- Arkansas (2004, 1997)
- Colorado (2006, 2000)
- Florida (2008, 1997)
- Georgia (2004, 1996)
- Idaho (2006, 1996)
- Kansas (2005, 1996)
- Kentucky (2004, 1998)
- Louisiana (2004, 1999)
- Michigan (2004, 1996)
- Mississippi (2004, 1997)
- Missouri (2004, 1996)
- Montana (2004, 1997)
- North Carolina (2012, 1995)
- North Dakota (2004, 1997)
- Ohio (2004, 2004)
- Oklahoma (2004, 1996)
- South Carolina (2006, 1996)
- South Dakota (2006, 1996)
- Tennessee (2006, 1996)
- Texas (2005, 1997)
- Utah (2004, 1997)
- Virginia (2006, 1997)
- Wisconsin (2006, 1979)
In 3 it's banned by constitutional amendment only:
- Nebraska (2000)
- Nevada (2002)
- Oregon (2004)
And in 4 it's banned just by state law:
- Indiana (1997)
- Pennsylvania (1996)
- West Virginia (2000)
- Wyoming (2003)
But no matter how it was banned, it's still illegal in over half of the country.
Need a visual? Here's our handy map:
Here's how else things have improved for LGBTs beyond marriage
People have been fighting for the right to same-sex marriage for decades now, but it seems like a lot of the progress has been made in just the last 10 years. The number of states where same-sex couples can legally marry has skyrocketed from just 1 to 17, a little over a third of the country.
I can't believe homosexuality & Gay marriage in America is still an issue. Don't let anyone tell you who you're allowed to love.
— Close To Home (@WeAreCTH) May 13, 2014
Sam isn't the only pro athlete who is gay and out, but the fact that there's an openly gay player in the NFL is a powerful symbol.
The Boy Scouts of America has even made steps toward being inclusive, changing its policy to allow openly gay scouts, though gay leaders are still banned.
The general attitude towards gay marriage, and the LGBT community overall, is slowly becoming more positive and welcoming.
In NYT poll, support for legalizing gay marriage 56-39. At same time, public preference for leaving marriage law to states is 64-33…
— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 27, 2014
Lol at Farage saying old ppl are uncomfortable with gay marriage. My nans uncomfortable with smart phones doesn't mean we should ban them.
— Alan (@ExistentialQ) May 14, 2014
— Niraj Chokshi (@NirajC) May 13, 2014
It seems to shock people when I tell them I'm a Christian, who believes homosexuality is a sin, but supports gay marriage. #Equality
— Texan Gent (@TexanGentsCode) May 16, 2014
But in other ways, it's still an uphill battle
It's impossible to say that the LGBT community has true equal status in this country.
Why is it wrong to disagree? I think gay marriage is wrong and someone else thinks it is right. Don't call me a bigot bc I have an opinion
— Hunter Garvin (@Garvyy) May 13, 2014
People who identify as queer, especially those who are transgender, are victimized and murdered at shockingly high rates.
— Taij K. Moteelall (@Taij) May 15, 2014
People of color in the LGBT community are almost twice as likely to face violence than a white person with the same sexual orientation.
And the map above shows how many states still make it illegal for same-sex couples to marry.
Coalition of Black Pastors speak out against gay marriage in Detroit http://t.co/Khji0jgezJ
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) May 16, 2014
I don't believe in gay rights or gay marriage. It's wrong, this doesn't mean I am homophobic. Stop forcing gayness upon everyone America.
— Ryan Carper (@ryan_carper) May 12, 2014
But we've seen what the last 10 years did. Who knows what will happen between now and 2024?
Ten years of celebrating marriage equality in Cambridge, MA! Happy Anniversary. pic.twitter.com/BF7ece4XKa
— 1369 Coffeehouse (@1369coffeehouse) May 16, 2014
Images used under Creative Commons licensing.
Lauren is originally from outside Saint Louis, but traveled down the Mississippi River to be a student at Tulane University, where she is the editor-in-chief of The Tulane Review and director of the New Orleans Universities Relay for Life. She has also written for NOLAWoman.com and Winnovating. One day she’ll figure out how to make the Time Turner real, but until then, she’d like to thank coffee for her success. Follow: @laurenwethers.