ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What States Allow Gay Marriage?

Updated on July 10, 2010

What States Allow Gay Marriage?

Marriage is a state right, meaning each individual state sets its own guidelines to determine who can get married and when. While all 50 states allow heterosexual marriage, most states restrict gay marriage; in fact, many states outright prohibit marriage between two people of the same gender.

Only a few states currently allow gay marriage; others offer civil unions to same-sex partners, instead. However, more states are in the process of reviewing their marriage laws and considering same-sex marriage, so the list may continue to grow in the near future.

States That Allow Gay Marriage

To date, only five states and the District of Columbia allow gay couples to marry and simultaneously allow gay couples to refer to their union as a marriage:

  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont

In these states, same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages are afforded the same exact rights and responsibilities under state law. Same-sex couples can legally separate, divorce, bequeath their estate to each other and their children and make medical decisions the same way opposite-sex couples can. There are no laws that recognize same-sex marriage any differently than opposite-sex marriage in these states.

Additionally, three states recognize gay marriage, but do not currently issue same-sex marriage licenses:

  • Maryland
  • New York
  • Rhode Island

This means that while these states currently allow gay marriage, it is not possible at this time to actually obtain a marriage license as a gay couple. However, these three states recognize same-sex marriage licenses issued in other states. For example, if you and your spouse entered into a same-sex marriage in Connecticut and later move to New York, New York will recognize your marriage as legal, allowing you and your spouse to take advantage of and enjoy the same benefits you would enjoy as a married couple had you stayed in Connecticut.

States that Allow Same-Sex Civil Unions

In addition to the five states that allow gay marriages, seven states currently allow same-sex civil unions:

  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

In these states, a civil union is similar to marriage; it allows a same-sex couple to seek legal recognition of their relationship and gives united couples some of the same rights -- such as health insurance -- that married couples received. Unlike marriage, a civil union does not give couples all of the rights that married couples enjoy, like tax breaks or joint custody of minor children.

Federal Recognition

There is no federal law that recognizes or prohibits gay marriage at the present time. Likewise, there is no law that bans gay marriage at a federal level, either. However, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act -- signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 -- which explicitly defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman (1 U.S.C. § 7). This means that, under federal law, same-sex marriage (as well as plural marriage) is not and will not be recognized until the act is abolished or amended. Further, if you and your spouse marry in a state where gay marriage is recognized and permitted, the federal government will not recognize you as a married couple. This means you and your spouse cannot file a joint federal tax return, claim Social Security benefits, or enjoy any of over 1,100 different federal benefits reserved specifically for married couples.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      8 years ago from Northern, California

      Great hub. This information will prove helpful when traveling with ones wife/husband. Thank you for bringing a needed bit of information to the page.

      welcome to hub pages!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)