Marriage equality now touches on more than half of the U.S.


ISLAND RITES | Hawaii was the first state to initiate same-sex marriages, but after being derailed for more than a decade, it finally began performing them last year. (Photo courtesy


Something happened on March 21, but you probably didn’t notice. Yes, you probably heard that a Michigan court declared a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional (it was stayed the next day). But when that happened, something was triggered: A tipping point. Although several states have since stayed their recognition of same-sex unions (either performed in their state or elsewhere), the fact is, 25 states plus the District of Columbia — half of the U.S. — had found a marriage right, even when both parties were of the same sex. That includes our own state of Texas (though of course it is being appealed). But with 17 jurisdictions recognizing marriages (another’s right goes into effect June 1), the fact is: marriage is becoming an inevitability.

If you’re planning your ceremony, we have a quick cheat-sheet for you — this up-to-date list of states offering marriage equality, as well as those that started, but stayed the law; those recognizing marriages performed elsewhere; and also foreign countries (18 in all) that perform or recognize. Let the honeymooning begin!

States where same-sex marriage is fully legal
Massachusetts (legal since 2004)
Connecticut (legal since 2008)
Iowa (legal since 2009)
Vermont (marriage legal since 2009; previously, civil unions made it the first state to grant marriage equivalency to same-sex couples)
New Hampshire (legal since 2010)
District of Columbia (legal since 2010)
New York (legal since 2011)
Washington (legal since 2012)
Maine (legal since 2012)
California (legal since 2013)
Maryland (legal since 2013)
Rhode Island (legal since 2013)
Delaware (legal since 2013)
Minnesota (legal since 2013)
New Jersey (legal since 2013)
Hawaii (legal since 2013; marriages previously authorized, but blocked by its legislature)
New Mexico (legal since 2013)
Illinois (ruling already issued, will become legal statewide on June 1, 2014; marriage has already begun in Cook and Champaign counties)

Started … then stayed
Utah (ruled legal Dec. 20, 2013; stayed Jan. 6, 2014; more than 1,300 same-sex couples married before the stay)
Oklahoma (ruled and stayed on Jan. 14, 2014; no marriages were performed in the state as a result of the ruling, though several couple married on Native American reservations)
Virginia (ruled and stayed Feb. 13, 2014; commonwealth’s attorney general refused to appeal)
Texas (ruled and stayed Feb. 26, 2014)
Michigan (ruled March 21, 2014, stayed March 22, 2014)

Same-sex marriage recognition
Ohio (Dec. 23, 2012 — recognizes marriage for death certificates only)
Oregon (Oct. 17, 2013; the state recognizes marriages performed elsewhere, but may not issue licenses. If the state ban falls in court, the attorney general said she will not appeal)
Kentucky (Feb. 12, 2014; recognizes marriage performed in other states)
Colorado offers civil unions with no federal recognition.
Oregon, Nevada and Wisconsin have domestic partnerships with no federal recognition.

Other countries providing marriage equality
Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Mexico (marriages performed in Federal District and Quintana Roo and are recognized nationwide), Netherlands (including Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten), New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, U.K., Uruguay.
Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

David Taffet and Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 11, 2014.