Same-Sex Relationship Recognition by State

A look at states that recognize same-sex marriage, civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, and more.

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Here are the states in which same-sex couples can enter into committed legal relationships through state-recognized procedures. The range of rights provided is broad. Some states allow full legal marriage for same-sex couples. Some provide a "marriage equivalent" such as a civil union or domestic partnership, with many or all of the rights and benefits of marriage. Other states allow gay and lesbian couples to register in relationships that provide some benefits, but far fewer than those enjoyed by married couples.

To find out the details of the same-sex relationship laws in your state, see Nolo's article Same-Sex Marriage: Developments in the Law.

State

Type of Relationship

Effective Date

Is Relationship a Marriage Equivalent?

State DOMA law or Constitutional Amendment?*

California

Domestic Partnership

Marriage

1999 (DP)

6/2013 (M)

Yes

 

Yes but overturned in court.

Colorado

Civil Unions

2013

Yes

 

Yes

Connecticut

Civil Union
Marriage

2005 (CU)
2008 (M)

Yes

No

Delaware

Marriage

7/2013

Yes

No

District of Columbia

Domestic Partners

Marriage

2002

2010

Yes

 

No

Hawaii

Marriage

12/2013

Yes

No

Illinois

Marriage

6/2014

Yes

No

Iowa

Marriage

4/2009

Yes

No

Maine

Marriage

2012

Yes

No

Maryland

Marriage

1/2013

Yes

No

Massachusetts

Marriage

5/2004

Yes

No

Minnesota

Marriage

8/2013

Yes

No

Nevada

Domestic Partner

10/2009

Yes

Yes

New Hampshire

Civil Union
Marriage

2008 (CU)
2010 (M)

Yes

No

New Jersey

Marriage

10/2013

Yes

No

New Mexico

Marriage

12/2013

Yes

No

New York

Marriage

2011

Yes

No

Oregon

Domestic Partner

2/2008

Yes

Yes

Rhode Island

Marriage

8/2013

Yes

No

Vermont

Marriage
9/2009
Yes
No
Washington

Domestic Partner

Marriage

2009 (DP)

2012 (M)

Yes

Yes

Wisconsin

Domestic Partner

7/2009

No

Yes

States that have passed a defense of marriage act (DOMA) or a constitutional amendment have effectively limited legal marriage to couples of the opposite sex. In order for same-sex marriage to become possible in these states, their DOMA laws must be overturned or their constitutions amended.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the complex and ever-changing rules of same-sex relationship laws, a review of all the issues that influence the decision to marry, and practical guidance on one of the most important decisions a couple can make, get Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnership & Civil Unions, by Frederick Hertz with Emily Doskow (Nolo).

by: , Attorney

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