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Gay Marriage Laws

While the Federal Government does not recognize same-sex marriages under DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), several states now recognize and issue licenses for gay marriages, while many others offer all or some state-level spousal rights to domestic partnerships. This recognition began with a landmark decision in November of 2003, when the highest court of Massachusetts handed down a decision that the prohibition of same-sex violated the state’s constitution. On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts was the first state to provide marriage equality for gay couples by issuing marriage licenses.

It would take nearly three years before another state followed the example of Massachusetts. In October of 2007, Connecticut’s Supreme Court voted in favor of gay marriages based upon the belief that not to do so would violate the rights of gay couples to receive equal protection under constitutional guarantees.
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States That Allow Gay Marriage

Twenty years ago the subject of gay marriage in the United States seemed to be almost a joke. Yet here we sit, a scant twenty years later, counting the number of states that have already embraced the concept, and looking ahead to other states joining suit. While the future of gay marriage is still somewhat unclear, the sheer diversity of the states that have legalized it is amazing to behold.

As the future of gay marriage moves forward, it is instructive to look back at those first bellwether states and how they helped to reshape the face of the nation.

Connecticut
The state of Connecticut officially allowed gay marriages to take place starting on November 12, 2008. That made Connecticut the third state to officially allow same-sex couples to marry. The state had previously enacted a civil union law back in 2005. That law gave gay and lesbian couples many of the same protections as marriage, and it became law on April 20, 2005 when the governor signed the bill. Civil unions for gay and lesbian couples officially began on October 1 of the same year. The new gay marriage law established in 2009 replaces those civil union and gives those same-sex unions the official recognition of the state.
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