Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions

Last updated on June 27, 2011

Overview on key states:

  • These states issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: California*, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont
  • These states recognize same-sex marriages from other states: Maryland,  New York and Rhode Island
  • These states allows civil unions, providing state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey (Note:  In Connecticut,  New Hampshire and Vermont same-sex marriage has replaced civil unions.)
  • These states have a statewide law that provides nearly all state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples (domestic partnerships): California,  Nevada, Oregon and Washington
  • These states have a statewide law that provides some state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples (domestic partnerships): District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine and Wisconsin

* The California Supreme Court ruled on May 15, 2008, that same-sex couples have the right to marry in California.  Proposition 8, which amended the California state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, was passed on Nov. 4, 2008.  On August 4, 2010, a federal district judge ruled that the same-sex marriage ban in Proposition 8 violated the equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution.   In June of 2011, though the federal district judge that presided over the August 4th, 2010 decision did not disclose that he was in a long-term relationship with a man, his August 4, 2010 was upheld.   Enforcement of that decision has been stayed pending appeal.  California does not currently allow same-sex marriages to be performed.  Same-sex marriages performed before Proposition 8 was passed remain valid.

For more information on same-sex marriage go here.