Oct 20, 2014

The History of State by State Moves to Ban and/or Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

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A History of State Bans and Legalization

History of Bans

So when did the states begin actively either banning or allowing same-sex marriage by defining marriage in a sense that excludes same-sex couples?  Well, the effort to ban same-sex marriage did not actually begin in Alaska or Hawaii.  In 1998, Alaska and Hawaii became the first states to amend their state Constitutions to ban same-sex marriage.  However, nearly several decades prior, states began banning same-sex marriage by way of a state law/statute, a bill passed by the state legislature and signed into law by the Governor.  The first state to do so was Maryland in the 1970's. By the mid 1990's nearly every state in the U.S. had a statutory ban on same-sex marriage.  Amending the State Constitution creates a ban that is a bit more permanent.  A state law can be overturned by the state's own court system as a violation of the state's constitution.  Therefore, to prevent that, some states, such as Alaska and Hawaii, began changing the state constitution by adding amendments that defined marriage as between only one man and one woman and prohibiting state recognition of same-sex marriages done in other states.  Since the ban is written into the state constitution it is automatically "constitutional".  What you are seeing today is the federal court system assessing whether or not the same-sex marriage bans, whether banned by state law or state constitution, violate the United State Constitution, which is supreme over state laws and state constitutions.  Alaska's amendment was just recently ruled as a violation of the U.S. Constitution (October 2014.  For an understanding of national supremacy on this issue see the previous post "Will the Supreme Court Take on Same-Sex Marriage...?".  Other states followed Alaska and Hawaii in amending their state constitutions.  By 2012, well over half of the states banned same-sex marriage in this manner.  This includes Georgia. In voting on a ballot measure in Georgia in the 2004 General Election, 76% of Georgia voters indicated their consent to amending the state constitution, a process requiring voter approval, "so as to provide that this state shall recognize as marriage only the union of man and woman".  Georgia's Constitution as a result of this 2004 ballot measure, now states that:
(a) This state shall recognize as marriage only the union of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state. 
(b) No union between persons of the same sex shall be recognized by this state as entitled to the benefits of marriage. This state shall not give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other state or jurisdiction respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other state or jurisdiction. 

History of Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

Beginning 2003, some state supreme courts begin legalizing same-sex marriage by overturning state statutory bans.  
2003: Massachusetts, begins issuing licenses in 2004
2006: New Jersey
2008: California, Connecticut
2009: Iowa
Beginning in 2009, some state legislatures and governors passed and signed bills into state law that legalized same-sex marriages and allowed for state recognition of same-sex marriages done elsewhere.
2009: Vermont, New Hampshire, D.C. (by mayor)
2011: New York
After 2011, more states see voters approving same-sex marriage through the referendum process, similar to how some states, including Georgia as mentioned above, banned same-sex marriage.  Opponents of same-sex marriage in these states that had state laws overturned or had new state laws passed to allow for same-sex marriage sought to join other states in making bans more permanent by advocating for state constitutional amendments that would ban same-sex marriage.  This is the process that played out in California in 2008.  In 2008, after a California state court overturned that state's law banning same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage opponents put the now infamous Proposition 8, similar to that of Georgia's in 2004, on the ballot allowing California voters to approve an amendment banning same-sex marriage in the California state constitution.  California voters supporting the proposed amendment accounted for about 52% of the vote which was a victory for the opponents of same-sex marriage.  Supporters of same-sex marriage in California then took a suit to the federal district court and have since won that suit, as has happened in so many other states in recent years.  California now allows same-sex marriage. 
As of today and partially as a result of the recent federal court rulings overturning state bans, 27 states now allow same-sex marriage.  This number has increased substantially in just a few years.  In 2013, only 13 states allowed same-sex marriage; and just last summer, only 19 allowed it.  The increase to 27 in such a short amount of time has been a substantial victory for the LGBT community despite their possible dismay at the Supreme Court's refusal to take up the issue which would have set the standard for all 50 states.  The National Conference of State Legislatures offers an updated map of which states allow same-sex marriage and which states do not:

However, use web links by CNN (CNN interactive same-sex marriage status) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL Defining Marriage) to stay up to date on which states allow same-sex marriage and which states do not allow it since this issue is developing rapidly.  The CNN interactive indicates the path for legalization in that state, for example, recent court rulings, although the map does not yet include the change in Alaska.  For more information on this topic, look out for an upcoming post on public opinion concerning same-sex marriage and broader questions concerning homosexuality in public opinion.

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  1. I do in fact believe that the Supreme Court will rule for same sex marriage. The world is changing and more and more people are coming out even famous AFL players, And people are now excepting it. I do wonder if the fact that the Senate is now run by the republicans if that will change this out come.

  2. Many people are happy in different ways. I don't understand the corruption between banning same-sex marriages. People deserve to be happy the way they feel most comfortable. In 2012, Atlanta was one of the top gayest city in America. However, in 2004, Georgia made it unconstitutional to permit "same-sex marriage." As of today, Atlanta still remains being the top gayest city in American, and Georgia still prohibit same- sex marriage. If Maryland being the first state prohibiting same-sex marriage in the 1970's, why did many other states started ratifying their states constitutions and banning same-sex marriage? What is so horrific about a person loving someone else of the same sex? For many many years there was no problem about same-sex marriages. According to CNN interactive same-sex marriage status, more than 30 states are in favor of same-sex marriages in America. Many and many states are more in favor of same-sex marriage. People deserve to be happy, no matter what the circumstances are. Everyone is unique and there should not be any discrimination against someone being united with the opposite sex.
    - Selena Ramirez
    ( First blog comment)

  3. Commenting later on this post allows me to be able to discuss what happened with the Supreme Court recently. The SC decided not to take this case into court, so with that said, what ever the federal court below them ruled on will stand in their respective district. The SC did not ban or legitimize same sex marriage across the nation, however many states today do in fact either ban or allow it. Many southern states are not too open for it to be legal. However, many liberal states such as California, allow it. Same sex marriage, in my opinion, would have been deemed legal and constitutional under the 1st amendment, but America will not truly now how the SC will rule on it until they take the case up which could be in 10 years or 100 years. Until then, states are choosing sides on whether or not to allow it or ban it.

  4. I find it very interesting how state referendums have legalized same-sex marriage because it shows that many people have no agreed with lawmakers, especially in the case of DOMA. I believe that soon there will be a lot more states that legalize same-sex marriage by using referendums. I also believe that the Supreme Court will most likely accept a case in the next 10 to 20 years that makes the same-sex marriage bans illegal under state laws, as well as federal laws. However, I do not thing that will be for awhile, and I also believe that as long as referendums are the primary way of legalizing same-sex marriage, then Southern states will not legalize same-sex marriage.

  5. In my opinion, I can care less whether they ban it or approve it. This is because there are so many more important things in the world to worry about. I grew up in a Catholic family so our views are not positive about gays, but at the same time I don't even pay too much attention in church. At the end of day there are too many gay people so we might as well just approve it and get over with it. Everyone has the right to be happy, but go through all the banning and stuff just gets annoying.

  6. The Supreme Court usually sends proposals back, so I wont be surprised if they decline this case. At the same time this case is a big deal so if they keep on resisting then the protests will continue. Like Obame said, it is time for change and that means at least accepting this proposal.

  7. I'm really not sure how the Supreme Court is going to rule on same sex marriage. While they will most likely take our nations very polarized public opinion into account, the justices must also look at previous cases as a precedent for their decision. In the past, there have been cases that brought up the question of citizens' right to marital privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut), as well as a case involving the unconstitutionality of bans on interracial marriage. Same sex marriage is a similar issue, and I hope the Supreme Court uses these cases to back up their decision to announce same sex marriage as lawful.

  8. Caitlin Strawn GPCApril 7, 2015 at 6:00 PM

    Whether same-sex marriage should be legalized is a question that will always be fought over. Many people are against for many reasons. However, in recent years, there have been many more people supporting same-sex marriage. As of right now, a little over half of the states have now ruled as allowing same-sex marriage. It seems as though more states are overturning state statutory bans on same-sex marriage as time goes on.

    With this being such a controversial issue, I am unsure on whether the Supreme Court will pass a federal law allowing same-sex marriage. There are many factors that contribute to either supporting or banning same-sex marriage. Factors vary from religious, to traditional, to parental issues, etc. I believe that the Supreme Court will continue to let the states decide whether they want to ban it or pass it, because if they Supreme Court makes a national decision, the repercussions will be epidemic. Either side will lose faith in the government and most likely stop supporting it in all ways. Now, states can choose themselves whether or not to ban it, and I believe it may continue to be the state’s decisions.

  9. Janna Bourdonnay
    I believe that the Supreme Court will vote against allowing same sex marriage. Both the House and the Senate are dominated by republicans, who believe that marriage is solely between a man and a woman. Also, many states have already amended their constitution against same-sex marriage. In Georgia alone, 76% of voters voted to amend the constitution, which means they support traditional marriage and not same-sex marriage. Although in recent years, many states began allowing same-sex marriage and recognizing the marriage between same-sex couples, because of the House and Senate having more Republican influence, I would predict the same-sex marriage will continue to be banned on a federal level. I believe that they should leave it up to the states to decide what their stance on same-sex marriage, rather than making it a federal issue.
    Although in the past 3 years, a lot of states have changed their stance on same-sex marriage, still about half of the states still have a ban on same sex marriage. That doesn’t account for the people within the states that allow same-sex marriage who are against it. I believe that if a national vote was done, and overwhelming population would be against same-sex marriage. Many people psychologically have a hard time with change, especially something as large as same-sex marriage, which will change our nation and the world in more ways than we realize now. People follow tradition, and that is rewriting a lot of the traditional beliefs that Americans have.

  10. This is interesting how most of the states banned same-sex marriage but now are going back and emending their constitutions. This fact just shows how much times have changed and people’s views on such things have as well. I just think before people become so rational we should think about what might happen in the future. If states had thought about what might happen in the future they would have never banned it in their constitution in the first place. The simple fact is that they should have realized people were going to do what they wanted to do regardless of what kind of laws they passed. Laws banning same-sex marriage didn’t change the fact that homosexuals still exist, all it did was make them more upset. I just think it’s not good that things have to be changed, but that just shows that the world is always changing. So what I’m saying is why even ban it in the first place and then go back on it? I guess that’s just a question to think about. Maybe for control, people want to control everything that happens in society but no man or political group can do that. I think all states should just legalize it, because it is inevitable it will happen soon.

  11. Ajah Ochoa GPC

    The fight for equality has been and continues to be an ever present issue in the U.S. From the fight for Civil Rights to the fight for women’s rights, the fight for equality among minorities, and now the fight for LGBT rights. History sparked change; this is just the next phase. As with every major issue that brings controversy, there are those who oppose such change and those who are ok with change. Today however, there are more people who support LGBT rights.
    Times have changed drastically in regards to the acceptance of the LGBT community; more people of today’s society are willing to accept same-sex marriage than before. Socialization plays a major part in the increase of acceptance. Socialization begins with the family and more children today grow up in households with gay parents or gay family members. Once children are of school age, some of their peers may be gay or be accepting of people who are gay. They also learn about the fight for gay rights at some point in their school career. Being exposed to and informed about the struggles of the LGBT community, more people have become open minded to supporting the fight for LGBT rights. It will be interesting to see how the LGBT Movement unfolds and how long it takes for the LGBT community to gain equality.

  12. Angelique VirgleMay 4, 2015 at 8:19 PM

    In my opinion, I believe that the Supreme Court will vote against allowing same sex marriage. Although there are different states that are allowing it, many have not, and I think that the Supreme Court will favor the majority. In addition, most of the Congress is mad up of Republicans, who tend to be very religious, and will for that matter, vote against same sex marriage. I actually agree with the different states that recognize marriage as only the union of man and woman, and I don't think it should be recognized any other way. Changing world or not, I believe some things are going to stay the same.

  13. After reading this article, my opinion in a sense changed about how I felt towards gay marriage rights. Seeing that many states didn't agree with the idea and then later changed their minds shows that people deserve to have their own say so for how they want to live their life. I am still one that believes in marriage between one woman and one man but looking at how society is changing with the different sports players reporting that they are gay gives more reasons to believe that gay marriage should be legal. According to the constitution of the United States, the first amendment states that people can have the freedom of speech and religion, therefore without having the freedom to marry whoever they wanted wouldn't that be a violation to the first amendment? With all of this being said I feel that as the years continue to go on more people will agree with gay marriage and eventually it will be accepted in all 50 states.

  14. When the Prop 8 was ongoing in California, I was in a chirstian middle school near San Francisco. I remember our homeroom teacher was ranting about the problem of same-sex marriage and how god views it as a sin. At that time, I thought the opposition of same-sex marriage was naturally right because everybody in our school thought so including faculties and students. I never tried to comprehend the view from LGBT community regarding the Prop 8. In non-religous point of view, I believe same-sex marriage gives equal right to LGBT individuals same as heterosexual person in the light of who he/she wants to marry.

  15. I really think that even if the Supreme Court may not rule for same-sex marriage now, that they definitely will in the near future. It is becoming more popular in desire as its acceptance rate has increased. More and more people, famous or not, have been coming out loud and proud about who they are and what they believe in. Aside from only those involved in same-sex marriage, many of those in heterosexual relationships are supportive of the decision as well. Everyone is born with the freedom to make personal decisions and everyone is born with the right to be happy. Denying same-sex marriage may be violating a previously passed law, but it is also violating parts of our constitution.