Friday, March 20, 2015

Where is same-sex marriage legal?

Updated March 20, 2015
U.S. LATEST: 37 states have same-sex marriage, achieved through a combination of legislative passage, voter referendums, state court rulings, federal district-court and appeals-court rulings, and a series of refusals by the U.S. Supreme Court to accept appeals or issue stays.

SCOTUS' non-involvement ended in January, however, when it accepted appeals from four states in order to resolve the issue for all of the remaining 13. There is now little doubt the Supreme Court's June ruling will mandate nationwide marriage equality. Additional U.S. info in the full worldwide post:

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 (2014), Luxembourg (2015) and Finland (after other laws are changed to account for same-sex marriage's passage).

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 states of Coahuila and Quintana Roo -- and, for some couples who filed legal cases, in the states of Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Colima, Guanajuato, Jalisco, México, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Yucatán. Mexico has 31 states. This list contains 25 of them.

In Colombia, a handful of same-sex couples have managed to get married since September 2013. 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), Illinois (2014), Colorado (Oct. 6, 2014), Indiana (Oct. 6, 2014), Oklahoma (Oct. 6, 2014), Utah (Oct. 6, 2014), Virginia (Oct. 6, 2014), Wisconsin (Oct. 6, 2014), West Virginia (Oct. 9, 2014), Nevada (Oct. 9, 2014), North Carolina (Oct. 10, 2014), Idaho (Oct. 15, 2014), Arizona (Oct. 17, 2014), Alaska (Oct. 17, 2014), Wyoming (Oct. 21, 2014), Kansas (Nov. 12, 2014), Montana (Nov. 19, 2014), South Carolina (Nov. 20, 2014), Florida (Jan. 6, 2015) and Alabama (Feb. 9, 2015). It also is legal in the independent city of St. Louis, Missouri (Nov. 5, 2014), the separate county of St. Louis (Nov. 5, 2014) and Jackson County, Missouri, which includes Kansas City and Independence (Nov. 7, 2014). That's 37 states, the District of Columbia, and three of Missouri's four largest cities.

What's going on in Missouri? Since Oct. 6, 2014, when Attorney General Chris Koster opted not to appeal a marriage-recognition ruling from a state court in Kansas City, Missouri has recognized same-sex marriages from anywhere in the world. Then, on Nov. 5, 2014, a state judge in St. Louis struck down Missouri's marriage ban and weddings began in St. Louis and St. Louis County (the city of St. Louis is independent and not located in any county). Koster, who supports same-sex marriage, appealed the decision but did not seek a stay to stop the St. Louis marriages. Then, on Nov. 7, a federal judge in Kansas City struck down the state's ban and marriages began in Jackson County. Koster is appealing that ruling as well. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit refused to lift a stay that prevents the ruling from having statewide effect. Oral arguments in the appeal will take place in mid-May in Omaha in conjunction with arguments in appeals from Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Bans on same-sex marriage in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas have been struck down by federal or state courts, but the rulings were stayed for appeal. In Louisiana and Puerto Rico (one of the United States' five inhabited territories), federal courts upheld bans. The rulings were appealed. (On March 20, 2015, Puerto Rico's government reversed course and asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston to go ahead and strike down its ban.) Oral arguments in cases from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas took place before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans on Jan. 9. Journalists exiting the courthouse said they expected a 2-1 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Oral arguments in cases from Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota will take place before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in Omaha in mid-May.

As for the other four inhabited U.S. territories: Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are in the 9th Circuit and would very likely see same-sex marriage legalized if they were sued. The U.S. Virgin Islands is in the 3rd Circuit and probably would see same-sex marriage legalized if it were sued. All states in the 1st Circuit and 3rd Circuit achieved marriage equality via pathways that did not involve federal appeals-court rulings. American Samoa is a case unto itself. It does not have federal courts. If it is sued, the matter might start in local court or in federal court in D.C. It may not be possible to sue American Samoa for marriage in federal court. The reason is complex, but if you're interested, you can start here.

INDIAN TRIBES: Same-sex marriage also has been explicitly legalized within the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon (2009), The Suquamish Tribe in Washington (2011), the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan (2013), The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington (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), the Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Washington (2014) and the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes in Alaska (2015).

HISTORICAL NOTES: In Utah, 1,259 same-sex couples married between Dec. 20, 2013, and Jan. 6, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a Salt Lake City federal judge's strikedown of the state's gay-marriage ban. The stay was lifted Oct. 6, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review pro-same-sex-marriage rulings from appeals courts in three federal circuits. In Michigan, 315 same-sex couples married in four counties on Saturday, March 22, 2014, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a stay. In Arkansas, 541 same-sex couples received marriage licenses 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 -- which was lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court action on Oct. 6, 2014. In Indiana, some 800 same-sex couples married June 25-27, 2014, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit issued a stay -- which was lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court action on Oct. 6, 2014. In Colorado, more than 300 same-sex couples married in Boulder, Denver and Pueblo counties in June and July 2014 after various legal developments, including the state's marriage ban being struck down in both state and federal court. The three counties eventually were forced to stop issuing gay licenses by the state Supreme Court or Attorney General John Suthers, with Boulder being the final county shut down on July 29, 2014. Colorado resumed issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Oct. 6, 2014, following the U.S. Supreme Court rejection of appeals from other states located in the 10th Circuit.

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.
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