Friday, July 25, 2014

Where is same-sex marriage legal?

Here is the answer as of July 25, 2014:

Same-sex marriage is legal in the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Argentina (2010), Iceland (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), France (2013), Brazil (2013), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013), England and Wales (2014), Scotland (starting this fall) and Luxembourg (starting early 2015).

Same-sex marriages also have taken place on the Caribbean islands of Saba, a municipality of the Netherlands (2012), and Martinique, an overseas region of France (2013).

In Mexico, same-sex marriage is available in the Federal District (Mexico City) and the state of Quintana Roo --  and, for some couples who filed legal cases, in the states of Baja CaliforniaChihuahua, ColimaJalisco, Oaxaca and Yucat√°n. The marriages are recognized nationwide by Supreme Court order. Mexico has 31 states.

In Colombia, a handful of same-sex couples have managed to get married since September 2013, but the situation remains fluid. Latest here.

In Australia, same-sex couples were able to marry in the Australian Capital Territory from Dec. 7, 2013, to Dec. 12, 2013, under a special "same-sex marriage" law the territory enacted. On Dec. 12, Australia's High Court invalidated the law and the marriages, pointing out that marriage is a matter of federal law in Australia.

In the United States, same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts (2004), California (2008 for four months, then 2013 for good), Connecticut (2008), Vermont (2009), Iowa (2009), New Hampshire (2010), Washington, D.C. (2010), New York (2011), Maine (2012), Maryland (2012), Washington (2012), Delaware (2013), Rhode Island (2013), Minnesota (2013), New Jersey (2013), Hawaii (2013), New Mexico (2013), Oregon (2014), Pennsylvania (2014) and Illinois (2014). The U.S. has 50 states.

It also is legal within the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon (2009), The Suquamish Tribe in Washington state (2011), the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan (2013), The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington state (2013), the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan (2013), the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California (2013), the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma (2013), the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota (2013), and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Washington (2014).

Bans on same-sex marriage in Arkansas, Colorado*, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin have been struck down by federal or state judges, but the rulings were stayed while they are on appeal. In the remaining 29 states that lack marriage equality, lawsuits have been filed but have not yet seen rulings.

In Utah, 1,259 same-sex couples married over 18 days prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's staying a Salt Lake City federal judge's strikedown of the state's gay-marriage ban. (On June 25, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the lower court's decision, but stayed its mandate pending final disposition of the case. On July 18, 2014, the Tenth Circuit also upheld the strikedown of Oklahoma's ban, and issued a stay.) In Michigan, 315 same-sex couples married in four counties on Saturday, March 22, 2014, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a stay. In Arkansas, some 500 same-sex couples received marriage licenses (and many married) before the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay a week after the May 9, 2014, strikedown. In Wisconsin, more than 500 same-sex couples married June 6-13, 2014, before a federal judge finalized her paperwork and issued a stay. In Indiana, hundreds of same-sex couples married June 25-27, 2014, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a stay.

*Then there is Colorado, where I can't keep track of the myriad legal goings-on. At present, Boulder County continues to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing the Tenth Circuit's Utah ruling and in defiance of Attorney General John Suthers, whose multiple legal efforts against the county have failed so far. Denver County was forced to stop issuing gay licenses by the Colorado Supreme Court. Pueblo County stopped after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Suthers, about which it expressed anger. More than 300 licenses have been issued to same-sex couples by the three counties. The Denver and Pueblo licenses were issued after a state court struck down the marriage ban on July 9, 2014, despite the court's having immediately stayed its ruling. On July 23, 2014, a federal district judge struck down Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage but issued a temporary stay of his injunction until Aug. 25. Suthers, who opposes gay marriage, promptly announced an appeal to the Tenth Circuit. Gov. John Hickenlooper supports same-sex marriage and has urged Suthers to cease his obstructionism. Just to make it all the more interesting, Suthers supported, in advance, the federal judge's striking down the ban. He was hoping to get a stay that would last all the way until the U.S. Supreme Court deals with the Tenth Circuit marriage cases, but instead he only got one until Aug. 25, for now. He also may have been hoping a federal-court stay could help him shut down Boulder. But on July 24, the day after the federal strikedown and temporary stay, the Colorado Court of Appeals said the Boulder marriages can continue.

In U.S. states that do not allow or recognize same-sex marriage, married same-sex couples who live there are still recognized as married for many federal purposes, including income tax, immigration, military benefits and likely scores of other matters that always have been tied to whether a couple entered into a legal marriage anywhere in the world rather than to a state's marriage rules.