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

Alaska

Marriage

2014

Arizona

Marriage

2014

California

Domestic Partners

Marriage

1999 (DP)

2013 (M)

Colorado

Civil Union

Marriage

2013 (CU)

2014(M)

Connecticut

Marriage

2008

Delaware

Marriage

2013

District of Columbia

Domestic Partners

Marriage

2002 (DP)

2010 (M)

Hawaii

Civil Union

Marriage

2011 (CU)

2013 (M)

Idaho

Marriage

2014

Illinois

Civil Union

Marriage

2011 (CU)

2014 (M)

Indiana

Marriage

2014

Iowa

Marriage

2009

Kansas

Marriage

2014

Maine

Domestic Partners

Marriage

2004 (DP)

2012

Maryland

Marriage

2013

Massachusetts

Marriage

2004

Minnesota

Marriage

2013

Montana

Marriage

2014

Nevada

Domestic Partners

Marriage

2009 (DP)

2014 (M)

New Hampshire

Marriage

2010

New Jersey

Domestic Partners

Civil Union

Marriage

2004 (DP)

2006 (CU)

2013 (M)

New Mexico

Marriage

2013

New York

Marriage

2011

North Carolina

Marriage

2014

Oklahoma

Marriage

2014

Oregon

Marriage

2014

Pennsylvania

Marriage

2014

Rhode Island

Marriage

2013

South Carolina

Marriage

2014

Utah

Marriage

2014

Vermont

Marriage
2009

Virginia

Marriage

2014

Washington

Domestic Partners

Marriage

2009 (DP)

2012 (M)

West Virginia

Marriage

2014

Wisconsin

Domestic Partners

Marriage

2009 (DP)

2014 (M)

Wyoming

Marriage

2014

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).

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