Same-sex marriage in the United States
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Same-sex marriage is legally recognized in some jurisdictions within the United States and by the federal government. As of December 2013, eighteen states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington), as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized same-sex marriage, although the Illinois law will not become effective until June 1, 2014.[n 1] Eight Native American tribal jurisdictions[n 2] issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Oregon recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states. Ohio recognizes out-of-state marriages for death certificate purposes only. A federal court declared Utah‘s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and such marriages are taking place immediately following the ruling, which state attorneys are currently appealing.
While many jurisdictions have legalized same-sex civil marriage through court rulings, legislative action, and popular vote, four states prohibit same-sex civil marriage by statute and 28 prohibit it in their constitutions. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other states. Section 3 of DOMA prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages until that provision was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2013, in United States v. Windsor.
The movement to obtain marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples in the United States began in the 1970s, but became more prominent in U.S. politics in 1993 when the Hawaii Supreme Court declared the state’s prohibition to be unconstitutional in Baehr v. Lewin. During the 21st century, public support for same-sex civil marriage has grown considerably, and national polls conducted since 2011 show that its legalization is supported by a majority of Americans. On May 9, 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to publicly declare support for the legalization of same-sex civil marriage. On November 6, 2012, Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states to legalize same-sex civil marriage through popular vote.
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