Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Gay marriage supporter Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag outside the Supreme Court.
Gay marriage supporter Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag outside the Supreme Court.
The Washington Post / Contributor

Tracking the Legalization of Gay Marriage Across America

An extremely recent history of same-sex marriage law.

In 1996, Gallup first asked US adults where they stood on the legalization of gay marriage. The resulting poll revealed that 27% of the people surveyed believed that gay marriage should be valid. Almost 20 years later, that number has jumped to 55% of Americans, and continues to climb steadily. As of June 2015, In 1996, Gallup first asked US adults where they stood on the legalization of gay marriage. The resulting poll revealed that 27% of the people surveyed believed that gay marriage should be valid. Almost 20 years later, that number has jumped to 55% of Americans, and continues to climb steadily. And as of June 2015, the Supreme Court has ruled gay marriage a Constitutional right. Here's how we got there.

According to, the fight over whether or not to allow same-sex marriage among the states began in the 1970s, but the legalization began in earnest in the early aughts when states started to take hard stands for and against gay marriage.

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

May 17, 2004

Massachusetts becomes the first state to pass a law recognizing legal same-sex marriages.

gay marriage mass

Walt Weiss (left) and Robert Napolitano receive their marriage license in Provincetown, Massachusetts after a decade together. Photo: William B. Plowman/Getty Images

May 15, 2008

The California Supreme Court decides that it's unconstitutional to ban same-sex marriages through a case called "In Re: Marriage." The first legal same-sex marriage in California took place on June 16th of that year.

October 10, 2008

The Connecticut Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, enacting a law that retroactively comes into effect on October 1st. Connecticut citizens are allowed to convert their civil unions into legal marriages from that point onwards.

November 4, 2008

An amendment to the California Supreme Court ruling called Proposition 8 reverses the original decree; California no longer grants legal same-sex marriages.

April 3, 2009

The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously votes to pass a law allowing same-sex marriages in Iowa.

April 7, 2009

Vermont legislature overrides Governor Jim Douglas to allow same-sex marriage in the state. On September 1st, same-sex couples begin applying for marriage licenses.

May 6, 2009

Governor John Baldacci signs a bill recognizing same-sex marriages in Maine.

sam sex marriage iowa

Robin Lambrecht (right) and her partner Sharon Wietzel celebrate in Des Moines, Iowa on the state's first day of legal same-sex weddings, April 27, 2009. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

June 3, 2009

New Hampshire becomes the fourth state this year to pass a law allowing same-sex marriages. It takes effect on January 1st, 2010.

November 3, 2009

Like California, Maine's marriage bill is overturned and same-sex married couples are no longer legally recognized.

December 18, 2009

Washington, D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty signs a bill allowing same-sex marriages into law.

June 24, 2011

New York passes a law allowing same-sex marriage, marking the first time that Republican-led legislature has enacted this type of law.

February 13, 2012

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signs the state's law allowing same-sex couples to marry. The law was supposed to take effect on June 7th of that year, but anti-gay activists pushed it back into November.

February 16, 2012

New Jersey legislature briefly approved a bill allowing same-sex marriage in the state, but Governor Chris Christie quickly vetoed it.

March 1, 2012

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signs the state's bill allowing same-sex marriage into law.

gay marriage maryland

Governor Martin O'Malley (center) signs the same-sex marriage bill in Annapolis, Maryland. Photo: Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images.

November 6, 2012

Citizens in Maine, Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota vote to support same-sex marriage bills, overturning anti-gay efforts to block progress in those states.

April 24–May 14, 2013

Rhode Island, Delaware, and Minnesota all pass laws allowing same-sex marriage.

June 26, 2013

The Supreme Court overturns Proposition 8, and California begins recognizing same-sex marriages again. The same day, the Court strikes the Defense of Marriage Act, a law from 1996 that prevented the federal recognition of gay marriage.

post DOMA same sex couple

Stefanie Berks (left) and her partner Daisy Boyd at their New York City ceremony, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on DOMA on June 28, 2013. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images.

October 21, 2013

A court ruling in New Jersey legalizes same-sex marriage for a second time, and Governor Chris Christie drops his appeal.

November 13–December 19, 2013

Hawaii, Illinois, and New Mexico join the group of states allowing same-sex marriage, which now includes 17 states.

May 19–20, 2014

Oregon and Pennsylvania strike down bans on gay marriage and there are no appeals, thereby allowing same-sex marriage to be recognized in each state.

October 6, 2014

The United States Supreme Court denies review on five marriage cases in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin, giving the lower courts in each state the power to override proposed same-sex marriage bans and legalize it once and for all. Additionally, the ruling gave Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming the right to legalize same-sex marriage. All were battling court cases involving proposed same-sex marriage bans, but when the Supreme Court refused to review the original five cases, it invalidated the proposed bans in the latter six states as well.

October 7, 2014

The United States Court of Appeals voted to support same-sex couples in two different cases, allowing two more states, Idaho and Nevada, to legally recognize same-sex marriage. The Court of Appeals vote also clears Arkansas, Arizona, and Montana to allow same-sex marriages since they, too, had similar cases waiting for review.

January 6, 2015

Florida's move to allow same-sex marriage goes into effect.

North Dakota and Georgia are the only states left that still outright ban same-sex marriage. South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, but laws haven't been passed yet. Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee all have marriage cases pending in front of the Supreme Court.

Hearings for those cases took place on April 28th of this year, and the Supreme Court is expected to rule on them by the end of June. If the ruling goes the same way it did in October 2014, it could clear the way for a nationwide acceptance of same-sex marriage in every state.

June 26, 2015


Gay marriage supporters celebrate outside the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015. Photo: Getty Images

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of supporting gay marriage as a Constitutional right, spreading waves of joy across the internet and in the halls of the White House, where Joe Biden is currently running around with a rainbow flag cape doling out high-fives (okay, not really, but it sounds right). In a statement explaining the majority decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote:

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.

It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fufillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

Farewell From Racked

Best of Racked

Best of Racked Essays

Best of Racked

Best of Racked Funny Stuff