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State Legislative Reactions to
Suits for Same-Sex Marriage

by Demian
© February 2, 2009, Demian


In the United States, marriage licenses are granted by individual states, not the Federal system. No religious affiliation or ceremony is required. Marriage licenses are legal contracts between the couple and the state.

The U.S. government has no say as to who is eligible for a license, however, it created an anti-gay law that refuses to recognize any same-sex legal marriage, miss-naming it the Defense of Marriage Act, in 1996.
      [See our article: Defense of Marriage Act]

The DoMA complicates taxes, prevents a partner from receiving spousal social security coverage, and disallows a non-citizen partner from applying for immigration. Legal marriage is important from an economic and social point of view because it triggers rights and responsibilities in states that number from about 170-to-350 depending on the state, to more than 1,138 within the Federal system.
      [See our article: Marriage Benefits List.]

Marriage licenses are also recognized by international agreements and remain valid from one country to another. With legal marriage now available in neighboring Canada, the U.S. appears poised to break yet another international agreement.

The Path to Legal Marriage
Repercussions of Denying Equality
Use of Anti-Marriage Law to Punish, Deny Other Benefits
Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment State List
Anti-Marriage Laws Attempted and Passed
Proposed Bills that Would Recognize Same-Sex Couples
State Laws that Do Recognize Same-Sex Couples

•  The Path to Legal Marriage

There have been successful suits in Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, and Massachusetts which have made major rulings in favor of legal marriage for same-sex couples. Only the Massachusetts ruling resulted in same-sex marriage becoming a reality.
      [Please see Massachusetts Offers Legal Marriage]

Court Rulings in Favor of Legal Marriage:
Hawaii Court Finding (Baehr v. Anderson)
Alaska Court Finding (Brause v. Alaska)
Vermont Court Finding (Baker v. Vermont)
Massachusetts Court Finding (Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health)
For a list of all the suits in the U.S., please see:
      Legal Marriage Court Cases — A Timeline

Since these favorable rulings, many U.S. state legislators have scrambled to enact laws that they hope will prevent recognition of legal same-sex marriages. While the governments around the world move toward domestic partner recognition, and more counties even consider legal marriage, the U.S. appears strangulated by the radical right who want their theology to rule America.
      [See the Legal Marriage Report]

The U.S. Constitution makes clear, under the “Full Faith and Credit” clause, that legal contracts — such as marriage licenses — which are made in one state, are required to be honored by all other states. As long as courts can be counted on to uphold the U.S. Constitution, marriages made in one state will not suddenly stop being legal when a couple crosses a state line.

State legislators appear to be unmindful of the unconstitutionality of their newly-created anti-marriage laws, which usually have two parts. The first part usually states that only one man and one woman may obtain a legal marriage license. This type of law is purely redundant, as all states already require opposite-sex couples to be the only type who may obtain a marriage license.

The second part of these laws address out-of-state marriage licenses. This law works under the assumption that some state, at sometime, will offer legal marriage to same-sex couples, and these legislators appear to be terrified that their state will be required to honor such a legal marriage license.

Some of these new laws are so broad as to also block recognition of opposite-sex couples whose marriages from another state don’t meet their state’s specific marital requirements, such as age of consent and kinship restrictions. And a growing number attempt to block, not only legal marriage for same-sex couples, but all other forms of legal relationship such as civil unions, domestic partner registrations and relationship agreements. If interpreted narrowly, these laws could also be used to invalidate powers of attorney, custody and wills between same-sex partners.

While these new laws declare that marriage is only for opposite-sex couples — composed of one “male” and one “female” — they do not actually define these terms, nor require any visual, chromosomal or hormonal testing. Further, there are many people who do not fit neatly into the socially constructed, but biologically inaccurate male/female only dichotomy.
      [See What Are You: Male, Merm, Herm, Ferm or Female? — by William O. Beeman.]

Further, the latest efforts have been to create, not only anti-marriage laws, but anti-Civil Union laws as well. Originally, the right-wing radicals claimed that their objections had to do with the use of the term “marriage,” it is now clear that they object to any kind of legal recognition of same-sex couples.

On the Federal level, a bill has been introduced in the House and Senate to bar same-sex legal marriage from the entire country.
      [Please see: Constitutional Amendment]

The legislators who have created these new anti-marriage and anti-union laws also seem unheeding of the damage these laws create which specifically stigmatize same-sex couples, single out gay people for disenfranchisement, and codify hatred toward gay and lesbian people.

•  Repercussions of Denying Equality

Legislation aimed at preventing recognition of any other state’s marriage license that does not conform to their own state’s requirements could affect a huge number of existing — primarily opposite-sex — licenses. For instance, employers in a state that had an age of consent of 18 might be permitted to drop benefits for employees who were married in a state that allowed consent at age 16. It could also add another layer of bureaucracy to any process requiring a marriage license.

It also raises the question of whether denying another state’s marriage contracts could open the door to invalidating other types of contracts as well. For instance, one state could decide they don’t like another state’s incorporation requirements, perhaps because the corporation gave benefits to domestic partners. Interstate commerce depends on mutual recognition of all contracts. A marriage license is, in legal terms, simply another form of contract.

Because of a well-coordinated effort by the radical right-wing, many of the laws from the different states have nearly identical language. Further, legislators have made identical claims that they are not acting out of malice toward same-sex couples, merely asserting their state’s sovereign right. They sometimes complain that same-sex marriage not be “thrust on them by some court 3,000 miles away.”

However, a legal marriage license from another state does not change the laws in one’s home state. When one state does finally offer legal marriage to same-sex couples, all the other states would still ban it for it’s own citizens.

Should these anti-marriage laws be enforced, U.S. citizens would be faced with a nationwide patchwork of legal status for their relationships. It would turn good, productive citizens away from taking jobs in certain states, or prevent them from moving to, or remaining in, prohibitive states.

By denying legal marriage, states stand to loose money, in part because same-sex couples are not responsible for each others debts.
      [See The Cost of Nonrecognition of Same Gender Marriages]

Conversely, a state offering legal marriage — particularly the first state — would benefit from the increased revenue due to the tourism and the related marriage-related services.
      [See The Fiscal Impact on the State of Vermont of Allowing Same-Sex Couples to Marry]

•  Use of Anti-Marriage Law to Punish, Deny Other Benefits

Disturbingly, these anti-marriage laws have been used as legal arguments in courts as proof of legislative intent to deny same-sex couples custody, workplace benefits, domestic partner status or any sort; including denying domestic partner violence protections.

  • Florida, Illinois, Virginia, and Washington

    Relying on 1999 state laws that resemble the Knight Initiative, extremist right wing legal organizations have sought to invalidate domestic partnership ordinances adopted by local governments in Florida, Illinois, Virginia, and Washington. Their lawyers claim that these state laws set forth a “public policy” that only married, mixed-sex couples can be granted benefits or rights by government bodies in those states.

    [The Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), January 21, 1999, page 1A;
    Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, April 1, 1999, page 1;
    The Washington Times, March 5, 1999, page A1;
    The Columbian (Vancouver, WA), April 20, 1999, page a9.]
  • Idaho

    An Idaho county attorney likewise has asserted that, because of that state’s anti-marriage statute, domestic partner health care benefits cannot be provided to county employees in same-sex relationships if they have participated in even a religious marriage ceremony or hold themselves out as being married.

    [The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), April 7, 1999, page B3.]
    An Idaho judge has refused to allow a lesbian to adopt her partner’s child expressly because of the state’s enactment of an anti-marriage law similar to the Knight Initiative.
    [The Lewiston (ID) Morning Tribune, January 25, 1999, page 8A.]
  • Pennsylvania

    The University of Pittsburgh currently is arguing that Pennsylvania’s anti-marriage law forbids reliance on local anti-discrimination ordinances as grounds for obtaining equal treatment of gay and heterosexual employees in the area of dependent health care benefits.

    [The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 28, 1999, page A.]
  • Washington

    A lesbian couple living in Washington state obtained a court decree that the child born to one of them could be adopted by the other, so that both became the child’s “legal” parents. After the family moved to North Carolina, the couple separated. The birth mother then attacked the adoption and asserted that her former partner should be treated as having no relationship with their child. She argued that, since North Carolina’s anti-marriage statute provides that marriages “performed outside of North Carolina between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina,” North Carolina’s courts also should disregard the Washington adoption and proceed as if it had never occurred.

    [The Starr v. Erez, Case No. 97 CVD 624 (Durham County North Carolina General Court of Justice, District Court Division);
    The Herald-Sun (Durham, N.C.) Aug. 30, 1997, page B1.]
  • Florida

    In response to a Daytona, Florida lawsuit seeking to enforce promises exchanged by a lesbian couple about what should happen if their relationship ever ended, the sponsor of Florida’s Knight-like, anti-marriage statute has claimed that Florida’s statute prevents courts from enforcing what are known as living together (or cohabitation) agreements.

    [The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, June 14, 1997, page 4B.]
  • Nebraska

    Nebraska passed a constitutional amendment in 2000. Promoted to voters simply as “protection” of traditional marriage, the law went far beyond restricting the right to marry only for opposite-sex couples. It specifically voids the uniting of two persons of the same sex in a “civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship.” The amendment banned any kind of same-sex relationship recognition, blocking gay people from advocating for even the most basic protections for their families, such as workplace partner benefits, time off to care for a partner, custody of a partner’s child, or make emergency medical or funeral decisions.

    Early in 2003, Senator Nancy Thompson introduced a bill that would give same-sex couples the right to make burial arrangements for their partners. In response, Attorney General Jon Bruning issued an opinion on March 10, 2003, that her bill was unconstitutional because of the constitutional amendment.

    M.J. McBride, President of CFEP, stated:

    “The citizens of Nebraska were manipulated into believing this law was about protecting the institution of marriage, when in reality it was a carefully executed campaign of discrimination and hate. Nebraska’s law is bad for families, bad for our state and plainly unconstitutional.”
    Because the language effectively blocks same-sex couples from the legislative process, it was meant only to punish certain people and violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.

    On May 12, 2005, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon agreed and declared Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. In his 42-page ruling, he stated:

    “The court finds Section 29 is a denial of access to one of our most fundamental sources of protection, the government. Such broad exclusion from ‘an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civil life in a free society’ is ‘itself a denial of equal protections in the literal sense.’ ”
    Judge Bataillon said that the ban “imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights” of gay men and lesbians. While not central to the disposition of the case, the court found the ban “burdens rights of intimate association.”

    On July 14, 2006, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon, that the measure was too broad and deprived gays and lesbians of participation in the political process, among other things. The full court declined to reconsider the ruling, and was heard, instead, by a panel. The Circuit court said the amendment “and other laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States.”

  • Ohio

    On February 6, 2004 — and taking effect in May 2004 — the Ohio governor signed one of the country’s most restrictive bans on same-sex marriage. The law singles out same-sex marriage as being “against the strong public policy of this state,” and forbids the state from recognizing any “public act, record or judicial proceeding” from any jurisdiction that extends the benefits of marriage to non-traditional unions.

    On March 23, 2005, shorty after the new Ohio state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Stuart Friedman threw out a felony domestic violence charge that could have resulted in 18 months in jail for 42-year-old Frederick Burk. Friedman instead charged Burk, who is accused of slapping his live-in girlfriend, with misdemeanor assault that could lead to only six moths in jail. The state’s 25-year-old domestic violence law was not previously limited to married people.

    In April 2005, Warren County Common Pleas Judge Neal Bronson threw out a felony domestic violence charge against Michael Carswell of South Lebanon, who was accused of assaulting his live-in girlfriend. Bronson reduced Carswell’s charge to misdemeanor assault. Bronson said that the anti-marriage law (Issue 1) rendered the domestic violence law unconstitutional because it prohibits legal recognition of any relationship that attempts to “mimic” marriage.

    On December 12, 2005, the 12th District Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of the felony domestic violence case. Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel said that Bronson’s opinion jeopardized 50 percent of the domestic violence cases in Warren County. Hutzel proceeded to back up the domestic violence charges with an additional charge of felonious assault. The appeals court said that the Ohio Defense of Marriage Act and the domestic violence law were intended to address different issues and they do not cancel each other out.

    On November 22, 2005, Rep. Tom Brinkman, Jr. (R-Cincinnati), claiming his role as a taxpayer and father of two Miami University students, sued Miami University seeking a ruling that the school’s domestic partner benefits policy violates Ohio’s constitutional ban on civil unions. He is represented by attorney David Langdon, as well as by the radical right-wing, Arizona-based, Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund. They seek a declaratory judgment and injunction against the university’s domestic partnership policy, plus legal fees.

    The University estimates about 30 people use some part of the university benefits package through the policy that took effect in June 2004. Says Miami spokesman Richard Little, “It’s not a significant financial issue.”

    On November 20, 2006, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Charles Pater dismissed the lawsuit stating that state Rep. Brinkman had no legal standing to sue the university as a taxpayer. The court affirmed that his daily life is unaffected when the domestic partners of lesbian and gay university employees receive medical insurance. Brinkman claimed the dismissal was “based on a technicality” and he said he will appeal.

    On November 28, 2005, Domestic Relations Judge James Celebrezze found that a key part of the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and other rights for couples living together violates the U.S. Constitution. Brian K. Johnson, 33, of Cleveland, asked Celebrezze to dismiss a request for a civil protective order from his former lover, 26-year-old Clevelander Tori Phelps. He found that because the year-old state amendment strips rights from domestic violence victims who are not married to their batterers, and leaves married victims with greater protections, that it violates the equal protection clause of the federal Constitution’s 14th Amendment. In declaring the amendment’s second sentence unconstitutional, Celebrezze denied Johnson’s request.

    Celebrezze’s opinion does not nullify the disputed part of the state amendment. But it may force the Ohio Supreme Court — and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court — to decide whether his ruling is correct. If so, half of the amendment could be gutted.

    The amendment, which voters passed as “Issue 1” in November 2004, restricts marriage and any legal union to “one man and one woman.” The second sentence bars state and local governments from “creating or recognizing any legal status for relationships of unwed partners that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”

    Ohio domestic violence law allows a victim automatic access to a protective order against the accused, which police must enforce. It also automatically elevates subsequent offenses from misdemeanors to felonies. It further provides unique and easier ways for victims to get civil protective orders even without criminal charges. So the law “clearly grants a ‘legal status’ to a cohabiting relationship” in violation of the state constitutional amendment, Celebrezze found. Thus, the domestic violence law cannot apply to unmarried couples living together, the judge reasoned, and an assault victim in such a household therefore is not treated equally under the law, as the 14th Amendment requires.

    That would be permissible if there were a “rational basis” for the state to discriminate, he said, but if there is one, it “is nearly impossible to divine.” The real basis, Celebrezze contended, is political gimmickry. The architects of the amendment drew up the measure “to guarantee that a certain demographic of voters would turn out in large numbers at the polls to vote in the presidential election.”

    While clashes between the amendment and the statute have been in the courts for a year, Celebrezze is the first judge to rule the amendment unconstitutional.

    The 12th Ohio District Court of Appeals, a common pleas judge in Franklin County, and several Ohio municipal courts found the amendment has no effect on the domestic violence law. By contrast, in a March 2005 ruling that was appealed, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Stuart Friedman found that judges must dismiss domestic violence charges against cohabiting partners because the amendment renders that part of the law unconstitutional.

    After Friedman’s ruling, Burress and a handful of state legislators sought to amend the domestic violence law to apply it to anyone living in the same household. The lawmakers dropped the effort, Burress said, because they saw no point in making changes until courts definitively ruled on whether the amendment and the statute actually conflict.

    On March 24, 2006, the 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that the domestic violence law runs afoul of the Defense of Marriage amendment, passed by voters in 2004, and does not apply to “a person living as a spouse.” The appeals court upheld dismissal of a domestic violence charge against Karen S. Ward of Fairborn, charged with assaulting her “live-in boyfriend” in Greene County. It was the second time Ward had been charged with domestic violence. The ruling also affects domestic violence cases in Champaign, Clark, Darke, Miami, and Montgomery counties.

    On January 25, 2007, in Franklin County, Ohio, a 12-page decision by Judge Carol Squire found that a custody arrangement between two lesbian parents is valid despite the Ohio antigay constitutional amendment. At Denise Fairchild’s request, the Franklin County Domestic Relations Court gave Therese Leach Fairchild parenting rights in 2001, saying the women “shall be treated in the law as two equal parents of their minor child.” When Therese and Denise broke up, Denise claimed the constitutional amendment invalidated their 2001 custodial agreement. Denise refused Therese, the nonbiological parent, contact with their son who was born in 1996. Such agreements were expressly approved by the Ohio Supreme Court in the 2001 In re Bonfield case.

  • Salt Lake County

    In July 2005, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson proposed a policy for Salt Lake County that would have extended medical, life insurance, and funeral leave benefits to the committed, yet unmarried, partners of county employees. Wilson and her Democratic colleagues articulated the sound public policy, basic business and fairness reasons for adopting the policy. Her Republican counterparts cited the majority of the state’s residents’ vote in favor of the anti-marriage, anti-gay Amendment 3 as an indication that Salt Lake County residents would oppose extending domestic partner benefits.

    In August, 2005, Craig Simper, Utah State University’s general counsel, killed a Faculty Senate proposal to offer employees domestic partner benefits to same-sex partners.

    Also in August 2005, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Salt Lake City Councilwoman Jill Remington Love brought the issue of partner benefits to Salt Lake City. Amendment 3 was again raised to threaten the proposal. Rep. Lavar Christensen, Amendment 3’s sponsor, now argues that Amendment 3 was meant to prevent Salt Lake City from extending domestic partner benefits and that if Amendment 3 is not clear enough he intends to introduce legislation to stop the city.

    From Sen. Scott McCoy (D-Salt Lake), in the Salt Lake Tribune, UT, August 28, 2005:

    “During the run-up to last November’s election, Utah voters were repeatedly told by Amendment 3’s supporters that the amendment was only meant to ‘define marriage as between a man and a woman’ and to prevent ‘marriage substitutes,’ such as the kind of civil unions approved in Vermont.

    “The writers of the amendment consistently assured the fair-minded citizens of Utah that the amendment would not prevent gay and lesbian people from being granted basic rights and benefits, such as health insurance or the right to visit a partner in the hospital.

    “Now, everyone from Salt Lake County Council members to Utah State University attorneys to Amendment 3’s sponsors are using Amendment 3 as a justification for killing proposals to give basic benefits to unmarried, but committed partners — same-sex or not. Either the voters were flat-out lied to, or political cowardice is leading to misinterpretation and abuse of Amendment 3. Neither is a very pretty picture.”

    In September 2005, Mayor Rocky Anderson issued an executive order offering health insurance to employees unmarried partners. Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based Christian group, promptly sued, alleging Anderson violated state law and the state constitutional Amendment 3. The Alliance believes the order undermines “traditional” marriage.

    On January 5, 2006, 3rd District court Judge Stephen Roth heard two hours of arguments on the case. City Attorney Ed Rutan argued the mayor’s order does not create a marriage-like status. The city did not define domestic partners as a “spouse.” Frank Mylar, a Midvale-based attorney working with the Alliance Defense Fund, stated that the decision could determine “to what degree marriage is going to be protected — whether it deserves a special status, special rights and benefits or whether it’s going to be thrown into a basket of all other kinds of relationships.” The idea that marriage needs “protecting” by excluding entire categories of the population is an old one that has never been backed up with any sort of science or relevant data.

  • Michigan

    A constitutional marriage ban (Proposal 2) against same-sex couples was approved by Michigan voters in November 2004. The amendment made the union between a man and a woman the only agreement recognized as a marriage “or similar union for any purpose.” The words “or similar union” have spurred suits to prevent benefits for gay and lesbian couples and their children.

    In 2003, the religious, right-wing Thomas More Law Center and 17 taxpayers sued the Ann Arbor Public Schools to prevent providing same-sex benefits — Rhode v. Ann Arbor Public Schools. On February 2005, the Law Center filed paper citing the constitutional amendment to be considered in its appeal.

    As many as 15 school Michigan districts offer same-sex benefits.

    On November 30, 2004, the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents voted to expand the benefit to non-union employees. Union employees already had the benefit.

    Gary Glenn, president of the right-wing, extremist group called the American Family Association of Michigan, denounced the EMU policy in a statement to the Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox (R). Glenn focused on the EMU’s recent expansion of a half-tuition waiver for same-sex domestic partners of employees, claiming the policy violates the marriage ban.

    Glenn claimed: “Government employers are prohibited from recognizing or treating homosexual relationships as equal or similar to marriage, which is clearly the intent and effect of EMU’s unconstitutional policy.” He further showed his lack of respect by categorized committed partners as being “particularly galling to many taxpayers” because “by giving students involved in homosexual behavior half off their tuition, EMU officials force taxpayers and other students to make up the difference and thereby subsidize behavior they sincerely believe is wrong.”

    In October 2005, Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk ruled that public sector employers can offer domestic partner benefits without violating the constitutional marriage ban.

    On October 31, 2005, the Michigan Court of Appeals halted the ruling, granting Attorney General Mike Cox’s request to delay the lower court’s decision until the higher court decides the issue. The court also sped up the timetable for hearing the appeal.

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which represents 21 gay and lesbian couples who filed a lawsuit — National Pride at Work v. Governor of Michigan — saying the ruling does nothing to prevent the state or Kalamazoo from providing same-sex benefits because same-sex benefits were allowed before Draganchuk’s ruling.

    The American Family Association of Michigan filed a lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court, on July 5, 2006, to stop Michigan State University from offering medical coverage to the partners of gay workers. The suit states that the school is violating the 2004 amendment to the state constitution prohibiting recognition of same-sex partners regarding legal marriage. They hoped to get a ruling setting a precedent that would block domestic partner benefits at other state universities.

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said the suit is pointless because the state appeals court already is set to rule on the issue. The court heard arguments in a related case in April 2006. The Union characterized attempts to strip benefits from gay partners as “mean-spirited.”

    State schools that provide benefits to gay couples include the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Northern Michigan, Wayne State, Saginaw Valley and Oakland universities.

    On February 2, 2007, a three-judge panel ruled that the 2004 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage also applies to same-sex domestic partner benefits. Public universities and local governments are forbidden to provide health insurance to same-sex partners of employees without violating the state constitution. The court wrote: “The marriage amendment’s plain language prohibits public employers from recognizing same-sex unions for any purpose.”

    The decision reverses the 2005 ruling from a county judge who said universities and government agencies could provide the benefits.

    [Associated Press, November 1, 2005;
    Detroit Free Press, July 6, 2006;
    Associated Press, February 2, 2007]

Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment State List
Alabama - 2006
Alaska - 1998
Arizona - 2008
Arkansas - 2004
California - 2008
Florida - 2008
Georgia - 2004
Kansas - 2005
Kentucky - 2004
Louisiana - 2004
Michigan - 2004
Mississippi - 2004
Missouri - 2004
Montana - 2004
Nebraska - 2000
Nevada - 2002
North Dakota - 2004
Ohio - 2004
Oklahoma - 2004
Oregon - 2004
Texas - 2005
Utah - 2004

The histories of these anti-marriage, anti-gay amendments may be seen below


Anti-Marriage Laws Attempted and Passed
Intended to Block In- and Out-of-State Licenses
Alabama
(1998, 2006 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996 and 1997]
  • The 1997 bill required a $1,000 fine for anyone legally entitled to officiate who performed a same-sex ceremony.
  • The 2006 constitutional amendment duplicates existing law prohibiting same-sex marriage. The amendment could lead to court rulings against common-law marriages among opposite-sex couples since the amendment defines marriage as a “solemnized” union.

    The amendment assures that legal marriages in other state will not be honored.

    “Section 2, Marriage Amendment. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”
    With the phrase “legal incidents thereof,” the amendment allows the possibility of refusing to recognize any legal contract between same-sex persons, such as a domestic partner workplace benefit, wills or powers of attorney.

    Backers of the amendment had been concerned that the ballot wording would be confusing, since people had to vote “yes” to changing the Constitution. They feared that people would see the amendment and automatically vote “no,” indicating they don’t want marriage for same-sex couples. Ever helpful, the Christian Coalition of Alabama printed more than 1 million copies of a church bulletin insert explaining that a “yes” vote “protects traditional marriage” and that a “no” vote “does not protect traditional marriage.” How the amendment actually protects anything is never spelled out.

Alaska
(1996, plus 1998 constitutional amendment)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1995]
  • The bill passed in May 1998 that allowed a ballot vote in November 1998. The anti-marriage constitutional amendment passed. The amendment bans marriage for same-sex couples and purports to invalidate such lawful marriages validly performed in other states. The ballot measure was a reaction to a favorable court ruling (Brause vs. Alaska) which found: (1) that marriage is a fundamental right, (2) that denial of civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples is discrimination based on sex, and (3) therefore the government must show a compelling reason for withholding a civil marriage license from a gay couple.
          [Please see our article: Alaska Court Finding: Brause v. Alaska]

    Passage of the anti-gay, anti-marriage amendment was used as a means of denying workplace benefits to same-sex couples. Anchorage city employee benefits were denied, and nine same-sex couples sued in 1999, demanding medical insurance and pension benefits. Superior Court judge Stephanie Joannides ruled, November 16, 2001, that the city of Anchorage and the state of Alaska do not have to extend benefits to gay or lesbian partners of employees and retirees. Judge Joannides ruled that same-sex couples fall into the same legal category as unmarried male-female couples, and that neither is entitled to city or state benefits under current law.

    The Alaska Supreme Court ruled October 28, 2005, that it was unconstitutional to bar benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees. In overturning a lower court’s ruling, the court found that “the public employers’ spousal limitations violate the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection clause.”

Arizona
(1996, 2006, 2008)
[An anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment was defeated 51-49% in November 2006. The November 2008 anti-gay, anti-marriage constitutional amendment won.]
  • A state law, enacted in 1996, made it illegal for same-sex couples to marry in Arizona. The law was upheld by the state’s courts, and there was no visible movement — among voters or lawmakers — to overturn it.
  • An amendment was introduced by the Scottsdale-based Center for Arizona Policy, a right-wing public-policy group, as their “Protect Marriage Arizona” campaign on May 2005, with kickoffs at several Christian churches around the state. Arizona’s three Roman Catholic bishops endorse the ballot initiative. The amendment contains not a shred of protection for anything.

    As of June 17, 2006, supporters must gather 183,917 signatures by July 6 to put the proposal on the 2006 Arizona general election ballot. A coalition opposing the proposal, Arizona Together, includes several religious leaders who state that the idea is hateful and discriminatory.

    The amendment’s broad language would bar the state, counties, cities, and school districts from creating or recognizing any legal status, not only for same-sex couples, but for unmarried opposite-sex couples as well. This would dump domestic partner benefits, including medical care for a partner’s children. The amendment was defeated in November 8, 2006.

  • Already illegal in Arizona because of the state law, Proposition 102 reads, “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.” On November 4, 2008 it passed 56.5%-43.5%.
Arkansas
(1997, 2004 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)
  • While Arkansas already has a law banning same-sex marriage, the 2004 constitutional amendment reiterates that marriage is between a man and a woman. It bans not only same-sex marriages, but Civil Unions as well.
California
(2000, 2008)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996, 1997, and 1998. [The anti-gay, anti-marriage constitutional amendment - Proposition 8 - was passed by voters only by 52.3%-47.7% on November 6, 2008.]
  • Finally, a public vote in March 2000, passed Proposition 22 (so-called “Knight Initiative”). This proposition demands that the state recognize marriage only between a man and a woman. Because California law already states as much, it is seen as mean-spirited and divisive, and a means to attacking in court such things as domestic partnership, custody and other benefits to same-sex couples.
  • On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that legal marriage is constitutionally guaranteed to all citizens.
          [Please see our article: California Offers Marriage]
  • Radical, right-wing groups — which received significant funding from out-of-state — launched Proposition 8 in May 2008, which asks voters to amend the California constitution to reverse the court’s decision, and deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The largest amount of money was donated by the Mormon Church — nearly $188,000 — a repeat of their efforts to help alter the states constitutions of Hawaii and Alaska to deny legal marriage, a right that had also been won in court in those states.
  • On November 4, 2008, Proposition 8 was narrowly won, which gutted the right of same-sex couples to marry by amending the state constitution. Three suits were quickly launched to stop the evisceration of civil rights.
Colorado
(1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2006 [the anti-gay, anti-marriage constitutional amendment - Amendment 43 - was passed by voters only by 56-44% on November 8, 2006.])
  • An anti-marriage bill, introduced by Sen. Marilyn Musgrave (R), was rejected by the legislature in 1999, and vetoed twice previously by previous Governor Roy Romer before that. The 2000 bill, introduced by Rep. Mark Paschall (R-Arvada) and Sen. John Andrews (R-Englewood) was signed by Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (R) said in his state of the state address that, in order to strengthen families, the state must reaffirm “that marriage is a fundamental vow taken between a man and a woman.”

    A ballot initiative to alter the Colorado State Constitution was mounted by Gary Rogers, an anti-abortion activist, who filed 11 different ballot initiatives in December 1999 and January 2000 aimed at prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriage. Each of the initiatives varied the wording only slightly. Equality Colorado appealed the titles on two (#227 and #228) and five were to have a title rehearing the week of January 28, 2000.

    Rogers apparently never begun collecting signatures on any version. One of the early versions, subsequently withdrawn, stated that it sought to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, with “male” defined as persons with “XY chromosomes,” and “female” with “XX chromosomes.”

    On May 3, 2005, the Colorado House of Representatives shot down a bill banning same-sex marriage. Rep. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) attempt to put a same-sex marriage ban on the November ballot. Without a ban, Lundberg hypothesized “hetero-normative values — that is, values favoring a one-man, one-woman marriage — will no longer be tolerated.” He seems to assume that, even though same-sex marriages are not legal in Colorado, the very idea that they are not banned will subject opposite-sex marriages to intolerance.

Delaware
(1996)

Florida
(1997, 2008)
[An anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-civil union constitutional amendment won in November 2008.]

  • The law not only defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and also forbids the state from recognizing Civil Unions. Anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996.
  • The proposed 2006 Florida constitutional amendment defines marriage as “the legal union of one man and one woman” and prohibits the recognition of any other union that would be its “substantial equivalent.” The second provision will likely lead to invalidating all domestic partner benefits, wills, powers of attorney and relationship agreements of any sort.

    Proponents had hoped to put it on the ballot by November 2006, but they gathered only about 466,000 of the 611,000 signatures required. Because signatures are valid for four years, however, they hope to reach their goal by 2008.

  • On November 4, 2008, the Florida constitutional amendment passed 62.1%-37.9%. The text reads: “This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.” It is likely that this law will be utilized to also smash personal contracts between same-sex couples, such as relationship agreements and wills, as well as workplace domestic partner benefits.
Georgia
(1996)
[The 2004 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment was struck down in May 2006 because the amendment addressed more than one subject.]
  • The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation, in 1996, that defined marriage as a union between and man and a woman:
    “It is declared to be the public policy of this state to recognize the union only of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state.”
    The 2004 constitutional amendment not only redundantly defines marriage, it goes far beyond and threatens domestic partnership benefits and hospital visitation, custody and adoption rights. It also strips the state courts of any jurisdiction over them.

    The Georgia American Civil Liberties Union, the Atlanta law firm of Alston and Bird, and Lambda Legal filed a challenge to the amendment. Their suit focused on the language of the referendum, not whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

    The attorneys argued the amendment violated the state constitution’s single-subject rule by pertaining to multiple issues. In addition to marriage, the amendment affects civil unions and the ability of Georgia’s courts to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. They also contended that the wording of the ballot question was misleading, because it asked only about marriage, not the other issues the amendment would affect.

    Superior Court Judge Constance Russell ruled that the court could not stop the vote. The state Supreme Court, which heard the case on appeal, upheld that ruling in late October 2004.

    Georgia’s Catholic bishops have directed parishioners to vote for the amendment.

    The 2004 constitutional amendment was approved, and subsequently legally challenged, in November 2004, as unconstitutional. Georgia’s constitution specifically states that amendments cannot cover multiple actions. This amendment covers a minimum of four areas:

    • The definition of marriage
    • Prohibition of the recognition of other types of unions (civil and domestic) between same-sex couples
    • It seeks to limit the jurisdiction of Georgia courts
    • It limits judgments and legal proceedings from other states

    In May 2006, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell struck down the Georgia constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, saying the measure that was approved by 76 percent of the voters in 2004 had violated the state’s single-subject rule for ballot questions. She wrote in the ruling: “Procedural safeguards such as the single-subject rule rarely enjoy popular support. But, ultimately it is those safeguards that preserve our liberties, because they ensure that the actions of government are constrained by the rule of law.”

    On July 6, 2006, Georgia’s highest court, the Georgia Supreme Court, unanimously ruled that the anti-marriage ban did not violate the state’s single-subject rule for ballot measures. This reinstated the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, reversing Superior Court Judge Constance Russell of Fulton County who had ruled that it did.

Hawaii
(1998)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996 and 1997]
  • Legislators instituted “Reciprocal Beneficiaries” [see below] in 1997 with hopes of circumventing the 1996 Hawaii lower court order allowing legal marriage for same-sex couples. In November 1998, a constitutional ballot measure ratified existing state law that permits (although it did not require) the legislature to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples. While not an anti-marriage constitutional amendment, it was used as the excuse to deny legal marriage in the final ruling from the Hawaii Supreme Court.
          [See Hawaii Court Finding]
Idaho
(1996, 2006 [the anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment was passed 65-35% by voters on November 8, 2006.])
  • The bill for the constitutional amendment passed the state Senate 26-9 on February 15, 2006. The previous week, the measure passed the House 53-17. It was approved by citizen vote in November 2006. The amendment states: “a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized.” This is likely to expand the prohibition to include any legal contract between domestic partners, be they of the same or opposite sex. State law already defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Illinois
(1996)

Iowa
(1998)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996 and 1997]

Indiana
(1997)
[Five anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1997]

Kansas
(1996, 2005 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)

  • Kansas already had a 1996 anti-marriage law before voting for a constitutional amendment. Part one of the 2005 Kansas amendment defines marriage as a contract between one man and one woman. The second part explains that no other relationship is entitled to the “rights or incidents of marriage.” This has been interpreted in other states to deny domestic partner benefits for opposite-sex couples who are not married, as well denying same-sex couples. Other personal contracts may also be affected, such as wills, powers of attorney and child custody papers.
Kentucky
(1998, plus 2004 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996, 1997]
  • While state law already defines marriage as between one man and one woman, the House approved a Senate bill (SB 245) on April 13, 2004, that places a proposed state constitutional amendment on the November 2, 2004 ballot. The bill’s text reads: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as legal in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.”

    The effect of such wording means that Kentucky would never offer a same-sex legal marriage, nor honor one, or a Civil Union, from another state. It could also be interpreted to apply to other legal contracts “similar to marriage” such as wills, and powers of attorney. If approved by voters, the bill will lock into the state constitution discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

    Rep. Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville) blasted fellow representatives as “a bunch of hypocrites” for arguing that the bill had anything to do with the “sanctity” of marriage. She declared, “half of you are divorced,” and cited an investigation in 1998 that alleged involvement of some lawmakers with prostitutes.

Louisiana
(1999)
[2004 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partnership constitutional amendment ruled invalid]
  • Mike Johnson, who represented the radical, right-wing Alliance Defense Fund, sued the city in 2003 on behalf of a group of New Orleans taxpayers, arguing that the domestic partners ordinance violates provisions in state law that uphold traditional marriage. Civil District Court Judge Louis DiRosa dismissed the suit in May 2005, before it got to trial, saying the plaintiffs had no standing to sue because the law did not cost them any tax money. On appeal, Johnson acknowledged that the cost increase was minimal, but said state law allows taxpayers to sue over any government cost increase, however little. 4th Circuit Court of Appeal dismissed the lawsuit on December 19, 2005, saying, “We find that plaintiffs have not established the minimal requisite interest, and therefore lack the requisite interest sufficient to afford him a right of action.”
  • The anti-marriage constitutional amendment went before voters on September 18, 2004. It passed, however, on October 5, 2004, a District Judge ruled it invalid. On January 19, 2005, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the ruling, allowing the amendment

    The Louisiana Legislature agreed to put the issue on a special statewide ballot for September 18, 2004. The initiative bypassed Gov. Kathy Blanco, who said in a flyer distributed to lawmakers that the constitutional amendment is unnecessary because state law already denies legal recognition of same-sex couples. She also said the amendment could chase business away from Louisiana.

    However, on August 28, 2004, Gov. Blanco said she will probably vote in favor of an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage: “Marriage is sacred, a sacrament, in my opinion, between a man and a woman. When you bring those kinds of issues to the forefront, you have to be keenly aware of not creating an atmosphere where people are treated unfairly. I always see the danger of social issues used to hurt people. And this should not be an excuse to bash or to hate.”

    While marriage may be “sacred” to some, legal marriage provided by the state is a civil process that does not require a church or temple. Her concern for bashing and hate is well-founded, as the constitutional amendment is, in fact, a legal form of exclusion and hatred.

    The amendment adds language to the Louisiana Constitution that limits marriage to a man and woman, a redundancy of state law. Further, it prevent courts and state officials from recognizing any kind of same-sex union, be it legal marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnership agreements reached in Louisiana or in any other state or country.

    It will negatively impact the New Orleans domestic partnership registry, throw city workers’ domestic partnership benefits into jeopardy, and invalidate any will or power of attorney made between same-sex partners.

    Christopher Daigle, the director for government and community affairs for Equality Louisiana, the statewide gay rights group, criticized the amendment for playing politics with Louisiana families and the state’s constitution: “This proposed amendment will do nothing to enhance or strengthen the institution of marriage. The real threats to marriage — divorce and adultery rates — will not be affected as a result of this legislation. This legislation will only bring harm and embarrassment to our state. Twelve other states, including Alabama, rejected similar amendments. The Alabama Legislature’s rejection of putting discrimination into their constitution calls into question Louisiana’s commitment to progress.”

    In August 2004, the Forum for Equality Political Action Committee filed a lawsuit claiming that the ballot measure infringes on rights to own and control property. While ballot measures are supposed to be limited to one topic, this one covers three: a ban on same-sex marriage, a ban on civil unions, and a ban on legal arrangements between members of an unmarried couple. Another problem, pointed out by the suit, is the fact that it was changed so much that it turned into a different proposal — violating constitutional requirements.

    On August 13, 2004, Judge Christopher Bruno of New Orleans temporarily blocked voting on the basis that September 18 is not a statewide election as the state constitution requires. Responding to the attorney general’s appeal, the state Supreme Court ruled on August 17 that Judge Bruno’s written ruling did not include a finding of unconstitutionality required for a direct appeal.

    The measure passed on September 18, 2004. Approximately 78 percent voted in favor of it, thanks in large measure to an intense lobbying campaign by radical, Christian, right-wing conservatives.

    On October 5, 2004, District Judge William Morvant ruled the amendment was flawed in the way it was drawn by the state legislature. Louisiana law requires state constitutional amendments to focus on a single issue. This had three issues.

    On January 19, 2005, the Louisiana Supreme Court reinstated the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution. Without dissent, the high court reversed the state district judge’s October ruling. Claimed the Supreme Court: “Each provision of the amendment is germane to the single object of defense of marriage and constitutes an element of the plan advanced to achieve this object.”

    Now, finally, the hard work of the radical right will pay off. For same-sex — as well as for un-married, opposite-sex couples — there will be loss of job benefits, dismissal of any contract (such as wills and powers of attorney), and loss of medical care to the children in these families.

Maine
(1997)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996]

Massachusetts
[Constitutional amendment went before 2005 legislature, failed, therefore did not go to a statewide 2006 vote]
[An anti-gay, anti-marriage citizen initiative was presented to the Massachusetts legislature. On November 9, 2006, lawmakers avoided taking a formal stand on the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. On January 2, 2007, the Massachusetts Legislature voted and advanced the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, pushing it over a critical hurdle to get onto the 2008 state ballot.]

  • The first U.S. state to offer legal marriage. Radical right wing forces — including the governor — are horrified that same-sex couples can marry and protect their relationship, and the lives of their children.
          [Please see: Massachusetts Offers Legal Marriage]

    On May 27, 2005, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected a lawsuit brought by C. Joseph Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League, to halt same-sex marriages until voters decide on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The vote could happen in November 2006 at the earliest.

  • Gay and Lesbian Advocates & Defenders filed a lawsuit January 3, 2006, against Attorney General Tom Reilly, seeking to block a proposed ballot question that would amend the state Constitution to outlaw existing same-sex marriage. Reilly claimed, in September 2005, that the repeal effort was legal. His ruling allowed backers of the proposed amendment to begin petitioning, and they collected more than 124,000 certified signatures, well above the 65,000 needed to get the measure on the 2008 ballot.

    GLAD’s legal director, Gary Buseck, said the state Constitution specifically bars any citizen-initiated amendment that “relates to the reversal of a judicial decision.” Only the Legislature can propose that kind of amendment. Reilly should have blocked the question from going forward on those grounds, Buseck said. The lawsuit also seeks to block Secretary of State William Galvin from taking any action to certify the question.

    The proposed amendment states: “When recognizing marriages entered into after the adoption of this amendment by the people, the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall define marriage only as the union or one man and one woman.”

    Gary Buseck:

    “This proposed anti-gay, anti-marriage amendment is meant squarely and solely to reverse the decision in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health that ended marriage discrimination in Massachusetts.”
    Before it can make it onto the 2008 ballot, supporters need to win the backing of 50 lawmakers — 25 percent of the 200-member Legislature — in two successive legislative sessions. A new Legislature takes office in January 2007.

    On November 9, 2006, Lawmakers voted 196-0 to reject a proposed amendment that would invalidate thousands of same-sex marriages already conducted, but decided to recess without voting on another measure that would bar such marriages only after the amendment was enacted. Recessing a constitutional convention means that the measure will not appear on the November 2008 ballot.

Michigan
(1996, plus 2004 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)
  • Michigan already has a 1996 anti-marriage law in place. The 2004 amendment defines marriage as an opposite-sex union, and employs ambiguous language in order to extend the constitutional ban to other legal arrangements.

    The Michigan amendment:

    “To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”
    The phrase “similar union,” easily makes unconstitutional, and unenforceable such contracts as Civil Unions — which are often not recognized outside of Vermont — as well as wills, relationship agreements, and powers of attorney. It is inconceivable how denying marriage and other legal contracts would in any way “secure and preserve” anything.

    On December 3, 2004, Gov. Jennifer Granholm revoked benefits slated to begin for state workers on October 1, 2005. The stated basis for the unilateral breaking of the negotiated contracts was the the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and “similar unions.”

    The contracts would have offered domestic partner benefits to state employees for the first time. The state’s five largest unions represent about 30,000 state workers. Typically, less than one percent of the work force avail themselves of same-sex domestic partner benefits.

    Officials at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University stated that they will continue to provide the benefits because they are autonomous and exempt from the constitutional amendment.

    On December 3, 2004, State Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt), who proposed the anti-gay amendment, said that he was confident similar benefits will disappear from future contracts at public universities, municipalities and local school districts that now offer them. Hopefully, charity clinics will not have their funding cut, and the children of these same-sex families will be able to get medical attention.

    The amendment also signaled the end of health care, and other benefits, for the same-sex partners of public employees in Michigan. On March 16, 2005, Attorney General Mike Cox issued this opinion in response to a question about benefits for Kalamazoo city employees. In the absence of a contrary opinion from a court, the attorney general’s interpretation of a law is generally binding on state agencies. an anonymous official in the Attorney General’s Office opined that the same legal theories would apply to public schools and universities which offer same-sex benefits.

    On March 21, 2005, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan challenged Cox’s opinion in a lawsuit filed in Ingham County Circuit Court. The plaintiffs include 21 same-sex couples — including Kalamazoo city employees, workers at state universities, and employees at various state agencies and departments — and a Washington-based AFL-CIO group, called National Pride at Work, that backs lesbian and gay rights.

    On June 8, 2005, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Kalamazoo, which seeks to strike down the Michigan constitutional amendment, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution by violating the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. The amendment strips away job benefits, such as health insurance from same-sex as well — as from unmarried, opposite-sex — domestic partners and their children.

    The suit states:

    “Section 25 applies at all levels of state, county and municipal government, imposing a special disability on people in same-sex relationships whether they seek protection for their relationships from government employers, administrative agencies, cities, towns or the state Legislature.”
    Bangor attorney Jessie Olson is named as a co-plaintiff with her partner, Tabitha A. Flatau.
Minnesota
(1997)

Mississippi
(1996 executive order, 1997, plus 2004 anti-marriage constitutional amendment)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996]

  • State has a 1996 (probably unenforceable) executive order banning same-sex marriage. The 1997 Mississippi law denies recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

    According to a February 1997 AP news report, when signing his state’s anti-marriage law in 1997 Gov. Kirk Fordice said:

    “For too long in this freedom-loving land, cultural subversives have engaged in trench warfare on traditional family values. Insurance benefits for dependents were never intended for perverse relationships such as the same-sex marriage. They were intended for traditional families.”
    The report also stated that Fordice boasted that the law ensures that same-sex couples will not enjoy the benefits of marriage such as health insurance.

    State Rep. Jim Evans, one of three lawmakers who oppose the bill, said the governor should “be giving it a second thought before he begins to moralize right now.” Fordice was recovering from injuries suffered in a car accident 14 weeks previous while returning from lunch with an unidentified woman in Memphis, Tenn. His wife, Pat, was out of town. The governor said he had no memory of that day.

    Apparently feeling that two anti-marriage laws were not enough, this state made another two attempts, which died in committees in 1999 and 2001. Mississippi also had a ban on whites and blacks marrying until 1987.

    The Mississippi Constitution amendment:

    “This proposed constitutional amendment provides that marriage may take place and may be valid under the laws of this state only between a man and a woman. The amendment also provides that a marriage in another state or foreign jurisdiction between persons of the same gender may not be recognized in this state and is void and unenforceable under the laws of this state.”
Missouri
(2004 anti-marriage constitutional amendment)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996, 1999, 2000, and 2001]
  • The anti-marriage bill, SB157, passed the legislatures on June 10, 2001, and was signed by the Governor behind closed doors on July 13, 2001. Although Governor Bob Holden (Democrat), actively solicited support from the gay community in his November campaign, he still signed the bill stating that he had little choice because lawmakers passed it by such an overwhelming majority that they could have overridden a veto. He also privately signed a shorter version of the ban that was included on a state employee pension bill (SB371) sponsored by Scott.

    The 1996 bill actually had become law, but was overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court in May 1998 because of bad legislative procedure. The 1999 anti-marriage bill from Reps. Bill Gratz (D-113th district) and Carl Vogel (R-114th district) would have restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples and discriminate against lawful out-of-state married couples. It was similar to the 1996 measure.

    Sen. David Klarich (R-26th district in the Counties of Franklin, St. Louis, and Washington) introduced his year 2000 version of the anti-marriage bill to prohibit same-sex marriages just two days after the December 20, 1999 decision from the Vermont Supreme Court — which stated that same-sex couples are entitled to the same benefits of marriage as opposite-sex couples.
          [See Vermont Court Finding]

    Klarich was quoted to say, “This has nothing to do with discrimination. It doesn’t prohibit anyone from doing anything they’re doing now.” However, his anti-marriage bill declared that same-sex couples’ marriages are “invalid and will not be recognized, even if valid where contracted.”

    Klarich had also attempted to amend anti-marriage language onto a domestic violence bill. Further, Rep. David Levin (R-82nd district, Creve Coeur) did get anti-marriage language amended onto a fireman’s retirement compensation bill, a bill that finally died in committee. Sen. David Klarich’s (R-Clayton) 2001 anti-marriage bill (SB180) summary read: “This act provides that the public policy of this state is to recognize marriage only between a man and woman. Any purported marriage between people of the same sex is invalid and will not be recognized, even if valid where contracted.” This bill appeared to be a mean-spirited attack on the sanctity of a same-sex marriage, just in case they become legal someday. It failed when the legislative session ended and no action had been taken on it.

    Missouri’s high court ruled on June 3, 2004 that a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to forbid same-sex couples from marrying should be held in August rather than November. The 6-1 decision, is seen as a victory for Democrats who wanted the earlier vote, when fewer conservative voters are expected to go to the polls. Gov. Bob Holden (D) had called for the August vote shortly after state legislators passed the measure. However, Secretary of State Matt Blunt (R) refused, claiming that he didn’t have the proper paperwork from legislators in time to prepare for the August 3 primary election. In May, Attorney General Jay Nixon (D) sued Blunt in an attempt to force the issue. A circuit court judge ruled in Blunt’s favor, but the ruling was immediately appealed to the state Supreme Court, which acted quickly.

    The campaign against the constitutional amendment was led by the Constitutional Defense League, and assisted by the ACLU of Missouri, Planned Parenthood, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force [After October 2014, known as the National LGBTQ Task Force.], and The Human Rights Campaign. Missouri’s major papers — St. Louis Post, St. Louis Business Journal, Kansas City Star, Columbia Missourian, and Springfield News Leader — and the mayors of St. Louis and Kansas City all opposed the amendment.

    Despite the earlier date, and quality opposition, the Missouri constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was overwhelmingly approved by voters.

Montana
(1997, 2004 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)
  • Having an anti-gay, anti-marriage law already in place has not stopped a right-wing, Christian group, The Montana Family Foundation, to gather more than 70,000 petition signatures for a November 2004 vote on an anti-gay constitutional amendment. Only 41,020 signatures are needed. If the signatures are verified, the measure would only need a simple majority of voters to amend the state constitution.
Nebraska
2000 anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner, anti-any partnership agreement constitutional amendment]
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation failed in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000]
  • The November 2000 constitutional amendment was promoted to voters simply as protection of traditional marriage, however, the law went far beyond restricting the right to marry to opposite-sex couples. It specifically voids the uniting of two persons of the same sex in a “civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship.”

    The constitutional amendment baned any kind of same-sex relationship recognition, blocking gay people from advocating for even the most basic protections for their families. It takes them out of the political process entirely.

    Early in 2003, Senator Nancy Thompson introduced a bill that would give same-sex couples the right to make burial arrangements for their partners. In response, Attorney General Jon Bruning issued an opinion on March 10, 2003, that her bill was unconstitutional because of the constitutional amendment.

    A suit charging that the state law violates the U.S. Constitution was filed by the ACLU and Lambda Legal on April 30, 2003. The suit made clear the case with examples of real couples who cannot get workplace partner benefits, time off to care for a partner, custody of a partner’s child, or make emergency medical or funeral decisions. Five same-sex couples, two from Lincoln and three from Omaha, joined the lawsuit.

    M.J. McBride, President of CFEP, stated:

    “The citizens of Nebraska were manipulated into believing this law was about protecting the institution of marriage, when in reality it was a carefully executed campaign of discrimination and hate. Nebraska’s law is bad for families, bad for our state and plainly unconstitutional.”
    In the fall of 2004, a federal judge allowed the ACLU/Lambda case to proceed. On October 15, 2004, federal court briefs were filed in Nebraska. It argued that Section 29 invalidates everything from same-sex marriage to civil unions, domestic partnerships and an all-encompassing category called “other similar same-sex relationships.”

    Because the language effectively blocks same-sex couples from the legislative process, it was meant only to punish certain people, and violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.

    On May 12, 2005, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon agreed and declared Nebraska’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. In his 42-page ruling, he stated:

    “The court finds Section 29 is a denial of access to one of our most fundamental sources of protection, the government. Such broad exclusion from ‘an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civil life in a free society’ is ‘itself a denial of equal protections in the literal sense.’ ”
    Judge Bataillon said that the ban “imposes significant burdens on both the expressive and intimate associational rights” of gay men and lesbians. While not central to the disposition of the case, the court found the ban “burdens rights of intimate association.”

    On July 14, 2006, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon, that the measure was too broad and deprived gays and lesbians of participation in the political process, among other things. The court said the amendment “and other laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States.”

Nevada
(2002 anti-marriage constitutional amendment)
  • The “Coalition for the Protection of Marriage” collected signatures for a ballot initiative, “Question 2,” that proposed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. The anti-marriage measure passed on November 7, 2000. Voters needed to approve the proposed amendment again, and overwhelmingly did so in November 2002.

    Since 1861, Nevada law already specified that marriage must be between “a male and a female person.”

    In 2000 campaign material, the Coalition made a false analogy comparing homosexuality to smoking and drug use as a health risk with “economic consequences.”

    It was reported, in October 2000, that the Coalition spent almost one million dollars on the campaign. The effort has also been heavily subsidized by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). LDS directly contributed a total of more than $1,000,000 to similar initiatives in Hawaii and Alaska that passed in 1998, while individual Mormons made (at the urgent behest of the church’s top leadership) substantial contributions to California’s anti-marriage Proposition 22 that passed in March 2000.

New Jersey
(2000, 2001)
  • The 2001 bills (S57 and A803) were carried over from last year. Proposed by Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-Morris) and Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), the bills would have amended current law barring family members from marrying each other, and also would have prevented recognition of legal same-sex marriages obtained from other states — should there be any.
New York
(2001)
  • The 2001 bill (A00892), sponsored by Sen. Anthony Seminerio (D-Queens), would have made “a marriage absolutely void if contracted by two persons of the same sex, regardless of whether such marriage is recognized or solemnized in another jurisdiction.” A second 2001 anti-marriage bill (S02195) was introduced by Sen. Maltese.
North Carolina
(1996, 2011)
  • On September 12, 2012, the North Carolina legislature placed an anti-marriage amendment on the May 2012 ballot. The state Senate passed the proposal by 30-16, following a House vote of 75-42. The bill defines opposite-sex marriage as the state’s “only domestic legal union,” and adds, “This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.” This additional section could be interpreted to mean that there may be recognition of an out-of-state same-sex marriage license. Contrary to the sentiment in the NC legislature, a poll conducted by Elon in 2011 showed 57 percent of North Carolinians support marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships; only 35 percent opposed any legal recognition for same-sex couples.
North Dakota
(1997, 2004 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)
  • The 1997 law is written so it did not go into effect until another state legalizes same-sex marriage. Now that Massachusetts has legal marriage, presumably, North Dakota can refuse to recognize a legal marriage license if held by a same-sex couple.

    Amending North Dakota’s Constitution, to deny or threaten to deny rights to North Dakota citizens, contradicts the document’s historic purpose. The marriage amendment defines marriage, and prohibits extension of civil benefits to same-sex couples. The second provision aims to prohibit government as well as the private sector that they cannot, under any circumstances, offer civil benefits to committed same-sex couples. The amendment could be interpreted to mean employers that currently provide benefits to same-sex couples would be violating the state constitution. Never before has the state’s basic civil, secular document been perverted to impose one group’s religious beliefs on the citizenry.

Ohio
(2001, 2004, plus a 2004 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)
[attempted to pass anti-marriage laws in 1997, 1998, and 2000]
  • The 2000 bills (SB240, HB547) were launched by Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) and Rep. James R. Jordan (R) and specifically cited the Vermont case when announcing intentions to prohibit same-sex marriage. The 2001 bill, HB234, was sponsored by Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and has passed the House. It bans same-sex marriage — which is already state law by three court rulings — and also would deny recognition of many rights of non-married couples, both gay and straight, including out-of-state child visitation and domestic partner benefits. While the bill has been dubbed “Defense of Marriage Act,” it offers no support of marriage, clearly defends nothing, and does plenty of attacking. This mean-spirited bill denies specific statutory legal benefits, such as rights of survivorship and hospital visitation, to all unmarried couples.

    This bill was a collaborative effort between the Republican caucus and the Cincinnati Citizens for Community Values. CCCV spearheaded the 1993 petition drive to place the anti-gay Issue 3 Charter Amendment on the ballot. HB234 had 40 co-sponsors; 39 Republicans and one Democrat, out of 99 members of the Ohio House. By contrast, the marriage ban introduced and defeated in 1997 had 13 co-sponsors. The 1999 attempt had 11.

    On February 6, 2004, governor Bob Taft signed one of the country’s most restrictive bans on same-sex marriage. It took effect in May 2004. It was fast-tracked through the Ohio House and Senate as an hysterical reaction to the Massachusetts court ruling that legal marriage must be provided in that state by May 2004. It was passed out of abject fear that Ohio would be required to honor a same-sex marriage license.
          [Please see our article: Massachusetts Offers Legal Marriage]

    The Ohio bill singles out same-sex marriage as being “against the strong public policy of this state,” and forbids the state from recognizing any “public act, record or judicial proceeding” from any jurisdiction that extends the benefits of marriage to non-traditional unions.

    This law is the second state, after Nebraska, to use an anti-marriage law to deny domestic partner benefits to state employees.

    Noting that the bill allows for domestic partner benefits for private sector employees and universities, the governor stated: “I do not endorse, nor does this law provide for, discrimination against any Ohio citizen.” The governor also stated that the bill maintains current Ohio laws allowing “non-married persons to adopt, give a power of attorney, inherit property by will, assume child custody or guardianship, or visit someone in the hospital. It is important that our message be one of tolerance, free of prejudice. This new law meets that test and sets an appropriate balance.”

    However, the bill offers no protections for same-sex couples when it comes to interest in an estate for inheritance purposes, or protection from having to testify against a loved one in court. Nor does it allow any of the hundreds of rights and responsibilities that are triggered by legal marriage. In fact, the governor’s rationale is disingenuous, and meets no test for tolerance or equal treatment. The Ohio anti-marriage law endorses hatred against gay men and lesbians. The extremely broad amendment not only affects same-sex relationships, it immediately affected opposite-sex protections against domestic violence. On March 23, 2005, shorty after the new state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Stuart Friedman threw out a felony domestic violence charge that could have resulted in 18 months in jail for 42-year-old Frederick Burk. Friedman instead charged Burk, who is accused of slapping his live-in girlfriend, with a misdemeanor that could lead to six moths in jail. The state’s 25-year-old domestic violence law was not previously limited to married people.

Oklahoma
(1996, 2004 anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)
  • When the 2004 amendment passed, marriages of same-sex couples conducted in other states will not be recognized in Oklahoma. Also, knowingly issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples would be a misdemeanor.

    The 1996 Oklahoma anti-marriage law already prohibited same-sex marriage.

    Says the author of the amendment, Senate Republican leader James Williamson, on his bill the day it passed both houses: “This is a proud day for the people of Oklahoma.”

  • In November 2007, Tulsa County Special District Judge C. Michael Zacharias granted a divorce to a same-sex couple. He did not know that both parties were women. One week later, after finding out that Cait O’Darling and S. O’Darling were a same-sex couples, he set aside the divorce decree and dismissed the underlying petition to dissolve their Canadian marriage. Judge Zacharias said on November 20, 2006, that after researching the matter, “I could find no authority to suggest that Oklahoma would recognize a same-gender marriage from a foreign country.”

    To dissolve their marriage, at least one of the women is now required to live in Canada for a year. Until one of them does, because the O’Darlings are legally married, they cannot apply for marriage with anyone else, nor apply for workplace benefits with anyone else.

Oregon
(2004 [anti-gay, anti-marriage, constitutional amendment])

Pennsylvania
(1996)

South Carolina
(1996, 2006 [the anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-Civil Union constitutional amendment passed on November 8, 2006 by 84-16%.])

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster in November 2006:

“Since 1996, we have had a statute that says marriage between persons of the same sex is void from the beginning. It won’t change anything as it exists today, but it will be a confirmation, a relatively important confirmation, of what marriage is in South Carolina.”
Brett Bursey, executive director of the South Carolina Progressive Network in November 2006:
“The lack of any compelling reason for it [the amendment] suggests another reason, the ‘get-out-the-vote’ ploy.”
Attorney General McMaster, was the honorary chairman of the anti-gay amendment campaign run by the Palmetto Family Council. The Council is made up of several conservative coalitions, including Baptists and anti-lottery and anti-video poker groups.

South Dakota
(1996, 2006 [the anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-Civil Union, anti-domestic partnerships, and anti-all “quasi-marital” relationships constitutional amendment passed on November 8, 2006 only by 52-48%.])
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1995]

South Dakota law already baned same-sex marriage. In 1996, South Dakota became one of the first states to pass a so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” — which actually defends nothing. It clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Since then, courts have routinely upheld the law. Some legal experts and legislators have warned that the amendment jeopardizes existing legal protections such as health care, hospital visitation rights, long-term care insurance and domestic violence protections.

Tennessee
(1996, 2006 [the anti-gay, anti-marriage, constitutional amendment passed on November 8, 2006 by 84-16%.])

  • A radical, right-wing evangelical group, The Family Policy Network of Tennessee, opposes the 2006 amendment because the it doesn’t go far enough. It wants the amendment to include a ban on civil unions and all other types of same-sex contracts.
Texas
(2003, 2005 [anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment])
  • The Texas anti-marriage, anti-gay bill was signed into law by governor Rick Perry (R) on May 27, 2003. While called the “Defense of Marriage Act” by supporters, it does not, in fact defend anything, it is only punitive. It prevents Texas from legally recognizing same-sex unions that are formed in other states. And, like most of the United States, Texas law does not recognize same-sex marriage in the first place.
  • The Texas senate approved House Joint Resolution 6, on May 21, 2005, which proposed a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman only. It also prohibits the recognition of any same-sex marriage from another state.

    As with the other far-reaching amendments, the ban would likely also harm opposite-sex partners in such areas as domestic partner benefits, powers of attorney, and common law marriage. Texas is one of about 13 states that still recognize common law marriage.
          [See our article: Common-Law Marriage States]

    The same day, the senate rejected amendments to the resolution which included:
        Recognizing civil contracts by same-sex partners,
        Adoption rights for same-sex partners,
        Hospital visitation for same-sex partners,
        Barring thrice-divorced Texans from marrying again (proposed by Hinojosa),
        Requiring married (presumed) heterosexual couples to have sex (proposed by Van de Putte).

    When Gov. Rick Perry (R) ceremonially signed the proposed state constitutional amendment, he also revealed the intensity of the hatred that backs such punitive laws. After signing, Perry was asked by a reporter what he had to say “to gays and lesbians who are serving in the military right now in Iraq who are going to come back to Texas and may not be entitled to the same rights as the rest of us?” Perry’s response was that “Texans have made a decision about marriage, and if there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas, then maybe that’s a better place for them to live.”

Utah
(1995, 2004 laws, plus 2004 anti-marriage, anti-domestic partner constitutional amendment)
  • On March 23, 2004, governor Olene Walker signed a law that not only forbids legal marriage to same-sex couples — which was already managed by state statutes and the 1995 anti-marriage law — it also bans Civil Unions, domestic partnerships, or related legal protection for same-sex couples.

    The legislature also passed another anti-family measure that places a state constitutional ban against marriage and any relationship recognition for same-sex couples on the November 2004 ballot.

    The powerful Mormon church extolled “heterosexual marriage” and declared that “any other sexual relations, including between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of family.”

Virginia
(1997, 2004, 2006 [the anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-Civil Union, and anti-existing legal protections for all unmarried couples constitutional amendment passed on November 8, 2006 only by 58-42%.])
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996]
  • On April 21, 2004, the Virginia legislature created one of the most restrictive laws in the country, at a time when other state legislatures are granting extensive legal rights to same-sex couples. It adds a section to the state’s “Affirmation of Marriage Act” which already bans same-sex marriages performed in other states from being recognized in Virginia.

    Governor Mark R. Warner attempted an amendment that was overwhelmingly defeated. It would have removed language from the bill prohibiting a “partnership contract or other arrangement” between homosexuals, which Democrats said could invite constitutional challenges.

    The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Robert Marshall (R-Prince William County), said the sole intention of the bill was to prevent recognition of domestic partnerships that “bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage.”

    Marshall stated: “Civil unions are a proxy for marriage and domestic partnerships are a proxy for civil unions. This has nothing to do with abrogating the ability of anyone entering into a contract.” But it would likely do so. Delegate Brian Moran (D-Alexandria) repeatedly asked Marshall to define the privileges of marriage and what types of contracts would fall under the bill. Marshall retorted with a snide remark, not answering the questions.

    Democrats argued that the bill is vague and could unintentionally place restrictions on a number of legal arrangements between people, including joint bank accounts, wills, medical directives, and powers of attorney. John Edwards (D-Roanoke) said, “These are non-exclusive rights that married people enter into. This bill does not distinguish between non-exclusive rights and exclusive rights.”

    The ban took effect on July 1, 2004.

Washington
(1998)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996 and 1997]
  • Two attempts made in 1997; first bill vetoed by Governor Locke; a second, with a voter referendum to bypass the governor, died in committee. Third year’s passage came with override of the Governor’s veto.
West Virginia
(2000)
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempts failed in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999]
  • The year 2000 anti-marriage bills were presented by Sen. Donna J. Boley (R-Pleasants) and Delegates Tom Coleman (D-Taylor), Larry V. Faircloth (R-Berkeley), and Steve Harrison (R-Kanawha). The house bill declared, in part that “a public act, record or judicial proceeding … respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of any other state … or a right or claim arising from the relationship shall not be given effect by this state.” In other words, any document, like a will, power of attorney, or relationship agreement could be ignored by the state and be challenged in court.
  • In 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union challenge the anti-marriage law. The court decided, 3-2, not to consider the case.
Wisconsin
(2006 [the anti-gay, anti-marriage, anti-Civil Union, and anti-existing legal protections for all unmarried couples constitutional amendment passed on November 8, 2006 only by 59-41%.])
[Anti-gay, anti-marriage legislation attempt failed in 2003]
  • Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed AB 475 on November 7, 2003, a bill that would have defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman. Wisconsin marriage law already prohibits same-sex marriage, and Doyle declared that the marriage bill was “another example of the legislature focusing its time and energy on divisive, mean-spirited bills that do nothing.”

    Conservatives attempted to override the veto. While they approved the bill with the two-thirds margins necessary to overturn a veto in both legislative houses, they came up one vote shy on November 12, 2003.

  • The proposed 2004 constitutional amendment passed both houses. It passed again in 2005, then was approved by voters in 2006. Approval of the governor is not required.

    The amendment reads:

    “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”
    Like most of the nine other copycat amendments passed around the country in 2004, the second sentence begs to dismantle domestic partner benefits, invalidate relationship agreements, as well as challenge powers of attorney and wills, which affect both same- and opposite-sex couples.

    On November 22, 2006, UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley said the amendment makes it unlikely that Wisconsin’s legislature will add medical insurance benefits for domestic partners. He also said that UW-Madison is the only school in the “Big 10” that doesn’t offer medical insurance coverage for domestic partners, which puts the university at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting and retaining employees.



Proposed Bills that Would Recognize Same-Sex Couples
California
(2000, 2001 and 2004)
  • (2000 initiative) In December 1999, brothers Tom and John Henning created Californians for Same-Sex Marriage for the purpose of circulating a ballot measure petition which seeks to legalize same-sex marriages. They needed at least one million signatures — a minimum of 670,000 must be from valid, registered California voters — by April 20, 2000, for the measure to qualify for the November 2000 ballot. As of a week before the deadline, they had gathered only about a total of 100,000 signatures.
          [See Freedom to Marry Affiliate Organizations]
  • Domestic Partner Registration is available in California. One of the 2001 bills, AB25, provides various inheritance, conservatorship, sick leave, medical decision-making, disability, unemployment and health insurance rights or benefits. This bill, proposed by Assemblywoman Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), expands an existing program giving participants about a dozen new rights typically reserved for married spouses. Same-sex partners are now allowed to file wrongful death lawsuits, an issue that arose in San Francisco after college lacrosse coach Diane Whipple was fatally mauled by dogs. As is the case in most states, Whipple’s partner, Sharon Smith, discovered that state law permits wrongful death lawsuits only by legally married spouses.
          [See: Domestic Partner Registration: California]
  • Another 2001 bill, AB1338, proposed by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), said his “California Family Protection Act” was modeled on the Vermont Civil Union law. Koretz: “This bill is about equality. Same-sex couples who choose to make a lifetime commitment to each other should not be discriminated against.” The bill’s co-authors include Assemblymembers Dion Aroner, Wilma Chan, Marco Firebaugh, Jackie Goldberg, Christine Kehoe, John Longville, Carole Migden, Virginia Strom-Martin, Herb Wesson and Senator Sheila Kuehl. Like Vermont’s Civil Union, it would allow same-sex couples to be legal next-of-kin, and simultaneously codify a second-class status. In late April 2001, Koretz said he was dropping the bill for a year, and will conduct hearings in key cities statewide before bringing it to a vote.
          [See Marrying Apartheid]
  • A bill (AB1967) for legal marriage for same-sex couples was introduced on January 12, 2004, by state Assembly Member Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). On April 20, 2004, an Assembly Committee approved the bill 8-3, however, the bill got no further.
  • On December 7, 2004 Assembly member Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) again introduced legislation (AB19) to legalize same-sex marriage — the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.”

    The bill, co-authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles), passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 26, 2005, by a 6-3 vote, and by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, on May 25, by a 13-5 vote.

    On June 2, 2005, the California Assembly defeated the bill, with 37 legislators opposed to the measure, and 35 in favor.

Colorado
(2006)
  • Referendum I would have granted gay and lesbian couples many of the legal rights and responsibilities of married couples, such as the ability to make funeral arrangements for a partner and to inherit a partner’s property. It lost on November 8, 2006; the same date that a constitutional amendment was approved, duplicating state law, which denied same-sex couples the right to marry.
Connecticut
(2002)
  • The State Judiciary Committee proposed a bill to allow same-sex marriage (HB5001), and another bill (HB5002), a domestic partner-type proposal, that would extend certain rights to same-sex couples. Connecticut has 588 statutes that are triggered by marriage. If the legislature only votes for extending certain rights, it would need to sort out which ones.
Hawaii
(2001)
  • The 2001 bill, HB1468, was for Civil Union, not marriage. House Judiciary Chairman Eric Hamakawa (D-S. Hilo, Puna) and Rep. Ed Case (D-Manoa) introduced this bill. Like Vermont’s Civil Union, it would have allow same-sex couples to be legal next-of-kin, and simultaneously codify a second-class status.
          [See Marrying Apartheid]
Maine
(2005)
  • Rep. Brian Duprey of Hampden, a conservative Republican, insists he introduced the pro-marriage bill solely at the request of a constituent, a woman who did not want her name revealed. But Duprey also said he intends to vote against his own bill, and that he will continue to push for a constitutional amendment to keep the Maine legislature from legalizing same-sex marriages. He also opposes Unions. Besides the January 2005 pro-marriage bill, the legislature will also review a bill to protect gay men and lesbians from discrimination, as well as Democratic Portland Sen. Ethan Strimling’s bill to repeal a state ban against same-sex marriage.
Maryland
(1997, 1998, and 2000)
  • The 2000 bill was entitled “Protection of Marriages,” which is peculiar as it does nothing to protect marriage, only make it unavailable to same-sex couples.

    On January 20, 2006, Baltimore Circuit judge Court M. Brooke Murdock struck down Maryland’s 33-year-old law against same-sex marriage, ruling in favor of 19 gay men and women who contended the prohibition violated the state’s equal rights amendments. Anticipating that her decision would be appealed to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, Judge Murdock stayed action on her ruling pending that appeal.

Massachusetts
(1991, 1999, and 2001)
  • The Massachusetts Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights campaigned to pass a same-sex marriage bill in 1991. They found a handful of Democratic co-sponsors.
  • The 1999 bill would have repealed all marriage regulations except age limits.
  • The 2001 bill was called H3375.
Nebraska
(1996 and 1997)

New York
(2001)

  • Bill S01205, sponsored by Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan). A9555 (Feb. 2002) would define domestic partner and add benefits in workman’s compensation. It was sparked by the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.
Nevada
(2001)
  • Proposed in March 2001, bill AB496 was introduced by Assemblyman David Parks (D-Las Vegas). It would have allowed unmarried couples to sign “Declaration of Reciprocal Beneficiary Relationship” statements. Parties in such relationships could make hospital or funeral arrangements and control estates for their domestic partners. They could receive medical information on each other. Partners could also receive medical insurance benefits if the employer agreed to make those benefits available to domestic partners. And unions could negotiate for medical benefits for domestic partners.
Oregon
(1997)

Rhode Island
(1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005)

  • A pro-marriage bill of 2000 (H7589 [was H5517]) was authored by Rep. Michael S. Pisaturo (D-Cranston). It was supported by 20 co-sponsors. The “Equal Access to Marriage Act” would have allowed all Rhode Islanders equal access to marriage. Pisaturo withdrew the bill because of constituent’s discomfort with the idea. He said he intends to mount a desensitization campaign that he is confident will lead to passage in five years.

    “All of our state’s families should have equal access to the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage,” stated Representative Pisaturo. “This bill is not about, nor will it ever require any religious denomination to perform or recognize same-sex marriage; it is only about the government allowing equal access to a civil marriage license for gay and straight couples alike. Legally, religious and civil marriage are two separate institutions. The state should not dictate which marriage any religion recognizes, and no one religious viewpoint should dictate which marriage the state recognizes.”

    Representative Pisaturo noted that civil marriage confers hundreds of basic legal protections for committed couples — many of which cannot be arranged by other means, even for those who can afford a lawyer. A civil marriage, he said, ensures hospital visitation rights; the ability to file joint tax returns; inheritance rights; equal access to bereavement leave or sick leave to care for an ailing partner; the ability to make medical decisions without a special power of attorney, and literally hundreds of other basic family-friendly legal safeguards.

    A Senate’s 2000 companion bill, Bill S2380, was introduced by Senators Rhoda E. Perry (D-Providence), John M. Roney (D-Providence), Elizabeth H. Roberts (D-Cranston), June N. Gibbs (R-Middletown), and William V. Irons (D-East Providence).

  • The 2001 pro-marriage bill (H5608) was authored by Rep. Michael S. Pisaturo (D-Cranston). It allows a same-sex couples to have access to legal marriage, as well as for legal marriages performed in any other U.S. state or territory to be recognized in Rhode Island.
  • Another 2001 bill (H5590) has been introduced by Rep. Nancy Hetherington (D) and co-sponsored by Rep.s Fox, Cicilline, Dennigan and Ajello. This bill would create Civil Unions, not marriage. Like Vermont’s Civil Union, it would allow same-sex couples to be legal next-of-kin, and simultaneously codify a second-class status.
          [See Marrying Apartheid]
  • Sen. Rhoda Perry (D-Providence) and Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Cranston) presented pro-marriage bills in 2004. The Perry bill co-sponsors included four senators. The Handy bill had 11 House co-sponsors. Both the House and Senate judiciary committees held hearings on the marriage bills. Neither took any action.
  • In 2005, Sen. Rhoda Perry (D-Providence) and Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Cranston) presented pro-marriage bills. The Perry bill co-sponsors include three Democrat and one Republican senator. The Handy bill had 20 House sponsors, including one Republican.
Texas
(1993)

Vermont
(2000)

  • The bill of the year 2000 was authored by Rep. Dean R. Corren (Progressive-Burlington) — and supported by Reps. Gordon E. Bristol (R-Brattleboro), David L. Deen (D-Westminster), William F. Suchmann (R-Chester), Mary M. Sullivan (D-Burlington), and David Zuckerman (P-Burlington) — this bill would have removed language from Vermont’s marriage statutes that discriminate unconstitutionally against same-sex couples. It also explicitly stated that Vermont will recognize a marriage without regard to the sex of the partners.
Washington
(1997, 2001, and 2003)
  • The 2001 bills (SB5769 and HB1758) were sponsored by Sen. Pat Thibaudeau (D) and Rep. Ed Murray (D), and are for Civil Union, not marriage. Like Vermont’s Civil Union, it would have allowed same-sex couples to be legal next-of-kin, and simultaneously codify a second-class status.
          [See Marrying Apartheid]
  • HB 1939, a bill authorizing Civil Unions, has been introduced for 2003 in the House by Representatives Murray, McDermott, Cody, Upthegrove, Romero, Darneille, Moeller, Santos, Ruderman, Hunt, Edwards, Kenney, and Dickerson. The companion bill in the Senate, SB 6014, is offered by Senators Thibaudeau, Kohl-Welles, Fairley, Regala, Kline, B. Sheldon, and McAuliffe.
Wisconsin
(1997)


State Laws that Do Recognize Same-Sex Couples
Vermont’s “Civil Unions”
  • The Civil Union status (effective July 1, 2000) offers a vastly improved range of protections for same-sex couples who live in Vermont never before available in the United States.
          [Please see Civil Union: Vermont]
California’s “Domestic Partner Registration”
  • The benefits from the Domestic Partner Registration were enacted October 14, 2001, effective on January 1, 2002, and twice expanded in range of benefits. The expanded benefits included making medical decisions for incapacitated partners, sue for wrongful death, adopt a partner’s child, will property to a partner, allow an individual to relocate with a domestic partner without losing unemployment benefits, use sick leave to care for a family member, and administer a partner’s estate.
          [Please see Domestic Partner Registration: California]
Hawaii’s “Reciprocal Beneficiary Relationship”
  • The “Reciprocal Beneficiaries” law (enacted July 8, 1997 — largely expired by 2001) allowed any two single adults — including same-sex couples — to gain 50-60 spousal rights (such as health care decisions, ability to sue for wrongful death, insurance and state pensions, joint tenancy, and property inheritance without a will). Hawaii’s attorney general has stated that no business is required to offer domestic partner benefits, greatly reducing the substance of this law.

    Because the Hawaii legislature refused to renew parts of the reciprocal beneficiaries law, the requirement for the Public Employees Health Fund to provide coverage for unmarried partners of state workers and retirees expired at the end of June 1999. A history of Reciprocal Beneficiaries is included here:
          [Hawaii greatly expanded registration coverage in January 2012.
          See Civil Unions: The Hawaii Approach.]

Massachusetts: Legal Marriage
  • Full equality became a reality on May 17, 2004. The result of a suit, same-sex couples who marry are now treated as next-of-kin. It remains to be seen if other states will recognize the marriages, and it is sure that the federal system will not.
          [Please see Massachusetts Offers Legal Marriage]


Thanks go to Alan Easton, John Wilkinson, and many others for invaluable status updates.
Please contact us with any corrections or updates with citations from Web sites or news reports.
© 2011, Demian
None of the pages on this Web site may be reproduced by any form of reproduction without
permission from Partners, with the exception of copies for personal (including student),
non-commercial use. Please do not copy this article to any Web site.


Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage
Nations

    Netherlands (2001)
    Belgium (2003)
    Canada (2005)
    Spain (2005)
    South Africa (2005)
    Norway (2009)
    Sweden (2009)
    Iceland (2010)
    Argentina (2010)
    Portugal (2010)
    Denmark (2012)
    France (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    Brazil (2013)
    Uruguay (2013)
    New Zealand (2013)
    United Kingdom
      (England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
    Luxembourg (2014)
    Finland (2014)
    Ireland (2015)
    Colombia (2016)
US States & Territories

    Massachusetts (2004)
    California (2008)
    Connecticut (2008)
    Iowa (2009)
    Vermont (2009)
    New Hampshire (2009)
    District of Columbia (2009)
    New York (2011)
    Maine (2012)
    Washington (2012)
    Maryland (2013)
    Rhode Island (2013)
    Delaware (2013)
    Minnesota (2013)
    Illinois (2013)
    Utah (2013)
    New Jersey (2013)
    Hawaii (2013)
    New Mexico (2013)
    Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Oregon (2014)
    Wisconsin (2014)
    

    Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Pennsylvania (2014)
    Indiana (2014)
    Nevada (2014)
    Virginia (2014)
    Oklahoma (2014)
    Idaho (2014)
    West Virginia (2014)
    Alaska (2014)
    Arizona (2014)
    Wyoming (2014)
    Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
    Florida (2014)
    Colorado (2014)
    North Carolina (2014)
    South Carolina (2014)
    Montana (2014)
    Alabama (2015)
    U.S. Supreme Court (June 26, 2015):
      Ruling: All U.S. States must now
      allow same-sex couples the
      freedom of legal marriage.
Native American Tribes

    Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
    Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
    Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
    Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
    Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
    Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
    Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
    Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
    Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
    Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
    Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
    Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
    Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan, (2014)
    Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
    Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
    Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)

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