Home State Laws Page 3

State Laws

Gay Marriage Laws in Arkansas

Gay Marriage Laws in ArkansasWhile  a large
percentage of the population continues to be pro gay marriage, there are still
many states that have laws that are anti gay marriage. However, some people
believe in equal rights for all, with the exception of being allowed to call a
civil union marriage. Many people believe there should be a distinction between
marriages and civil unions, and therefore, those people may be anti gay
marriage. Yet, many of those people are not biased, they just want a
distinction made so that marriage is defined as a union between opposite sex

Arkansas law could be considered to be based on an anti gay marriage
sentiment. In fact, an amendment was passed in 2004 that states that marriage
consists of a union between a man and a woman. In addition, that amendment
strictly forbids the recognition of any union between same sex couples. The
state will not recognize the union, and will not grant the individuals any
rights associated with marriage.

While many may not be considered to be pro gay marriage, most are not anti gay
marriage either. For many, the distinction is in the language used. For some,
marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. However, those same
people may have no problem with civil unions or domestic partnerships. For many
people, the words used can make all the difference. 

Because of the language
used, Arkansas state laws could be considered anti gay marriage. However, there
are many in the state that are pro gay marriage, or believe in the right to
civil unions, and continue to fight for equal rights. In many cases, people get
caught up in the language used, so progress toward equal rights, can be slow.

For many, the distinction between marriage and civil union, is simply based on
the gender of those entering into the union. However, for those in the LGBT
community, the distinction can impact the availability of benefits and rights
for their partner. Many people that are pro gay marriage, believe that the
union should entitle partners to benefits such as health care and the ability
to collect their partners pension.

However, those that are anti gay marriage
believe those type of issues impact the definition of marriage. However, pro
gay marriage activists are beginning to impact public sentiment and some
progress has been made toward equal rights.

Gay Marriage Laws in Wyoming

Gay Marriage Laws in Wyoming

In Wyoming, marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. In fact, Wyoming marriage laws predate the Defense of Marriage Act, which effectively prohibits the legal recognition of the marriage of a same sex couple because of the language contained within it. However, Wyoming marriage laws also allow for the legal recognition of marriages that were performed in another state, regardless of gender. 
As long as a same sex marriage was legally performed in another state, Wyoming marriage laws hold that marriage to be legally valid. While Wyoming marriage laws do not allow for same sex marriages, they will recognize one that legally took place in another state.
In Wyoming, marriage is only legally recognized when it is a union between an opposite sex couple. However, same sex couples are free to go to another state that legally recognizes gay marriage and get married in that state. That couple can then return to Wyoming and have their marriage legally recognized by the state.
In this way, same sex couples can enjoying the benefits of marriage by having their relationship legally recognized in Wyoming. Marriages between same sex couples, can be entitled to all of the rights and benefits associated with all marriages in the state of Wyoming. Marriages and same sex relationships, can enjoy equal rights in Wyoming as long as both were legally performed.
In Wyoming, marriage laws prevent same sex couples from legally recognizing their relationship unless that marriage was legally performed in another state. In addition, Wyoming currently has no laws against discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity. However, The Matthew Shepard Act was recently signed into law by the President. The events that led to the Act, took place in Wyoming. Matthew Shepard, who identified himself as gay, was beaten into a coma by two men. He later died as a result of his injury’s. 
Later, it would be revealed that the men searched for a gay man to attack and their crime was said to be a hate crime. Due to the extreme nature of the crime, residents of Wyoming are more aware of the issues that members of the LGBT community are faced with. In fact,many believe that Wyoming may be open to allowing the recognition of same sex relationships because of the discrimination that is associated with forbidding them. 
Like many states, the battle for equal rights continues for the LGBT community in Wyoming. Marriage, or the recognition of a same sex relationship, would be a giant step towards equality.

Gay Marriage Laws in Oregon

Gay Marriage Laws in Oregon

In Oregon,
gay marriage has been close to being legalized in recent years. Many believe
Oregon could be the next state to allow gay Oregon marriages. Due to a number
of court battles and reversed decisions, the Oregon gay community has seen the
legalization of gay Oregon marriages be given and taken right back away from
them. Currently, Oregon allows domestic partnerships. 

The right to have
domestic partnerships comes after a bill set would have allowed civil-unions
did not become a law. Oregon gay couples can thank Gov. Kulongoski for pushing
for the bill that allowed domestic partnerships. The bill came out of the
Oregon Family Fairness act and it gave Oregon gay couples many of the same
rights that Oregon marriages offer. Some of the rights part of the domestic
partnership include, filing joint custody of insurance forms, hospital
visitation rights, and certain rights given to you if your partner passes away.
A court challenge almost stopped the domestic partnership from being passed,
however after a delay the law finally took effect in early February 2008.

Oregon marriage licenses were given to Oregon gay couples in
the county of Multnomah. As soon as the county started issuing marriage
licenses to Oregon gays there were hundreds a day being requested. It was first
ruled that the state had no right to block the marriage licenses by the state’s
legislature, legislative counsel. Also,  the judge is the first hearing on
the issue refused to place an injunction on the gay Oregon marriage licenses. 

After more court decisions favored the right for Oregon gay couples to marry,
those for the DOMA act argued all the gay marriage licenses went against the
state constitution. They argued that Multnomah did not have the right to issue
gay marriage licenses. The act that was put into action was called ballot
measure 36. It banned Oregon gay marriages. It was also a retro active ban so
it made all the Oregon marriages between gays invalid even though they had take
place already. The supreme court made the decision final that gay marriage
would not be allowed in the state of Oregon.

    Gay couples in Oregon have will not stop fighting for more
rights. The people were so close to having gay marriages allowed that they were
giving out hundreds of licenses a day. Numerous court battles were ruled in
favor of gay marriage but ultimately the defense of marriage act won out. 

believe Oregon will soon allow gay marriages again, but for now the will have
to settle for domestic partnerships and the benefits that come along with that.
Census numbers show that there are thousands of registered gay couples in
Multnomah alone and someday they may even get a chance to marry in their home

Gay Marriage Laws in Pennsylvania

Gay Marriage Laws in Pennsylvania

current Pennsylvania marriage laws do not allow gay marriage. Pennsylvania gay
couples are blocked from being married by the Defense of Marriage Act,
otherwise known as DOMA. Right now some anti-gay marriage activists are in an
uproar that Pennsylvania may soon allow gay marriage.

Even though there is not
even a civil-union law allowing Pennsylvania gay couples to get married, some
religious people in the region feel they need to make sure that the gay
marriage laws are not passed. The Pennsylvania for Marriage organization is
looking to recruit people to protect Pennsylvania marriage from being tainted
by Pennsylvania’s gay community. They believe in the sanctity of marriage and
believe and their religious liberty to protect the sanctity of marriage.

The Pennsylvania for Marriage organization strongly feel
marriage should only be between one man and one woman. They believe anything
else would damage the state, children, and the meaning of a Pennsylvania
marriage. They are looking to block HB 300, which would become part of the
Human Relations act. HB 300, if passed, would allow for no gender or sexual
orientation discrimination when it comes to Pennsylvania marriage.

They have
listed on their web site some of the prominent names that support HB 300 which
would allow Pennsylvania gay couples to either marry or form a civil union.
They even asked everyone to use their civil action center and contact their
local state representatives in an effort to block the Pennsylvania gay
movement. Those against gay Pennsylvania marriage are looking to amend the
state constitution to completely ban all Pennsylvania gay marriages,
civil-unions, or any other type of legal bond that would have the gay couples
enjoying the benefits of marriage.

The amendment to the constitution may be added banning gay
marriage and unions. Gays argue that the language of the amendment is so sloppy
and unclear that it seems as if the amendment would take away rights that gays
have now, not regarding marriage. The amendment banning gays from joining
together as a married couple is in place in Pennsylvania as it was voted in the
senate. If the gay couples would like to form a union they will have to go to a
state that will accommodate them. 

The state has spoken and claimed that it will
not recognize any union or marriage between 2 people of the same gender.
Therefore,the forming of any union outside of Pennsylvania will not be valid or
recognized under Pennsylvania marriage laws. Any couples that are hoping to
claim benefits because they have a union or marriage formed somewhere else,
while living in Pennsylvania, will not be granted those benefits.

Gay Marriage Laws in Rhode Island

Gay Marriage Laws in Rhode Island

Rhode Island gay marriage laws currently do not allow same-sex marriages. The state at this time only allows domestic partnerships. These domestic partnership do not have nearly all the benefits of a normal Rhode Island marriage, but they do have some important ones. Rhode Island domestic partnerships allow for your partner to have family visitation rights in hospitals or nursing homes.
They also offer benefits to employees that are police officers, firefighters and offer funeral rights. The domestic partnership also offers property rights which are very important. All of these are right from the state, the federal government does not offer any rights to the Rhode Island gay domestic partnerships. Currently there are three interesting bills pending for the Rhode Island General Assembly to review. 
One of them would make Rhode Island marriage legal for gays. The other would ban same-sex marriage for Rhode Island gay couples. The third bill is a bill that would allow a reciprocal beneficiary agreement, granting gay couples more rights.
Rhode Island Attorney General Lynch has stated that Rhode Island should recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in another state. He also stated that not all those marriages should be accepted, for instance they may not recognize same-sex marriages from one state, but would from another depending on the circumstances. If the out of state marriage is not of Rhode Island marriage standards then the state should not have to recognize it, Attorney General Lynch explained.
In 2006, the Supreme court ruled that Rhode Island gay couples who had formed domestic partnerships were free to travel to Massachusetts and legally have a same-sex marriage. Once the couple is married in Massachusetts and they come back to Rhode Island, they will be recognized as having a Rhode Island marriage. Before Rhode Island gay couples were allowed to marry in Massachusetts, a nearly century old law that claimed on residents of Massachusetts could be married in the state, had to be lifted.
It is interesting to note that Rhode Island, which does not allow gays to marry in the state, also can not run a divorce court for Rhode Island gay married couples that were married in another state.
There are bills being written by both sides of the Rhode Island marriage debate. Some for gay marriage and others opposing it. Both sides claim to have opinion polls that support their argument, either for or against Rhode Island allowing gays to marry in the state. Brown University claims that 60% of Rhode Island citizens support gay marriage while only 31% oppose it. 
The National Organization for Marriage claims that 43% oppose same-sex marriage, 36% are for it, and 17% are undecided. In both polls however, the opponents of same-sex marriage fail to reach the 50% marker. Rhode Island may be one of the states on the verge of legalizing gay marriage being performed within the state. With a close proximity to other States with a large and active gay community such as New York and Massachusetts, the supporters of Rhode Island Gay marriage will likely grow.

Gay Marriage Laws in South Carolina

Gay Marriage Laws in South Carolina

most other states, South Carolina adopted DOMA. The Defense of Marriage Act was
enacted by many states to clearly define marriage as to prohibit legalizing gay
marriages. In South Carolina, gay marriage is legally forbidden. In addition,
South Carolina approved a constitutional amendment that explicitly forbids same
sex marriages and civil unions, in addition to the enactment of DOMA. In fact,
seventy eight percent of voters supported the measure.  In South Carolina,
gay marriage, domestic partnerships and civil unions are banned outright.

In South Carolina, gay marriages and other same sex relationships are forbidden
from being legally recognized by Article XVII. In other words, no same sex
relationship shall be recognized by the state, no matter what it is called, and
no matter if it is recognized by another state. In fact, Title 20 states that a
marriage between same sex couples is forbidden and against the public policies
of the state of South Carolina. Marriages are forbidden in several
circumstances, such as between relatives and in the case of a same sex couples. 

In fact, Title 20 explains in detail, which marriages are forbidden by the
state of South Carolina. Marriages are not allowed between specific
individuals, such as a woman and her father, son, grandson etc., and another
woman. Likewise, a man may not marry his mother, stepmother, sister or another
man. This Title equates same sex marriage with an individual marrying a

However, South Carolina’s gay population appears to be in consideration by some
state senators. In fact, The Civil Union Equality Act was introduced to the
state Senate in 2009.  The bill was meant to establish the legality of
civil unions for same sex couples in South Carolina. Marriages would still be
explicitly forbidden for same sex couples but same sex unions would be legally
recognized in South Carolina. Gay couples would be afforded all rights and
responsibilities usually afforded to married couples in South Carolina. 

Marriage provides certain rights such as, the right to share health insurance,
the right to assign a a partner as a health care proxy and the right to own
property jointly. If the bill were to become law, it would be active
immediately upon the signature of the governor of South Carolina. Marriage’s definition
would remain unchanged as the bill would only legally allow for civil unions
for same sex couples. The bill has not moved and currently awaits review and
the voting procedure of the state.

Gay Marriage Laws in South Dakota

Gay Marriage Laws in South Dakota


South Dakota has legally banned gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. In November of 2006, the measure passed by a public vote of fifty two percent.  Article XXI clearly states that South Dakota shall not legally recognize any relationship, other than a union of a man and a woman. 

In addition, the state had also adopted the Defense of Marriage Act. Combined, the act and amendment explicitly deny any legal rights or recognition of any other relationship besides marriage. In South Dakota, marriage laws could not be any clearer in denying rights to the LGBT community. In addition, South Dakota law on marriage only recognize out of state marriages between an opposite sex couple.

In South Dakota, gay couples have no entitlement to any rights or responsibilities afforded to married couples. In fact, same sex relationships can not be recognized in any form in South Dakota. Marriage laws prevent same sex couples from any entitlement to property without a will. In this case, a couple that has lived together would have difficulty in retaining the property as a whole, should one person pass away. 

For instance, if the Deed or Lease to a property is in one partners name and that partner passed away, the other partner has no legal entitlement to that property. In addition to not being able to own property jointly, same sex couples have no ability to make health care decisions for their partners. The same sample partner that lost property after the death of a partner,would have been unable to visit that partner in the ICU because they are not related. In essence, the inability to have a relationship legally recognized, prevents access to many basic rights for same sex couples.

In addition, South Dakota has no laws to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination. However, larger private employers tend to have their own regulations regarding such discrimination and many forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Many studies suggest that openly gay employees, suffer harassment, as well as a decrease in pay do to public perception. In South Dakota, gay couples live without rights that are equal to other portions of the population.

In South Dakota, gay couples are unable to expect legal recognition of their relationship. In addition, discrimination and hate crime laws are seriously lacking in South Dakota.Marriage laws prevent same sex couples from obtaining even basic rights as they pertain to their relationship. In addition, when those individuals do suffer from discrimination, they have no legal recourse. In South Dakota, gay rights need more consideration by lawmakers and by the general public. 

In South Dakota, marriage's definition should be reconsidered to include unions between same sex couples. Allowing civil unions or domestic partnerships, would be the first step to obtaining equal rights for the LGBT community. In South Dakota, gay rights must first be applied to the most basic circumstances. In this way, laws can change to protect all citizens and their rights, equally.

Gay Marriage Laws in Tennessee

Gay Marriage Laws in Tennessee

Tennessee, gay marriage is not currently legal. According to state laws in Tennessee,
marriage consists of a union of one man and one woman. In fact, Article XI
states that “any law, policy or judicial interpretation,” of marriage
as anything other than a legal contract to join one man and one woman, is
contrary to public policy and should void and therefore, not legally
recognized. In addition, the state does not recognize legal same sex marriages
performed in another state. In Tennessee, marriage is strictly defined by state
laws and the state’s constitution.

In Tennessee, gay marriage is also forbidden by Title 36, which says that
family is essential to society and that any other definition of marriage puts
society at risk. In fact, Tennessee law states that marriage is unique in its
rights and responsibilities and any alteration of the definition is detrimental
to society. In essence, families are run by one man and one woman and any
variation of that, will pose a danger to the natural order of society. The
union of one man and one woman, is the only acceptable definition of marriage
in Tennessee.  

Gay marriage in explicitly forbidden in several aspects of
the laws in Tennessee. Marriage of same sex individuals is contrary to the
public policy of Tennessee. In addition, lawmakers believe that marriage is the
link that holds families together in Tennessee. Gay couples are explicitly
forbidden form enjoying any of the rights or benefits of marriage.

Tennessee is
one of a few states to include such strong language in their laws relating to
marriage. In fact, their laws contain language that question the morality of being
a part of a same sex couple. The laws state that opposite sex couples add to
the bond in society in Tennessee. Marriage is claimed to be the bond that holds
families together.

The laws in Tennessee are currently prohibitive to the legal recognition of
same sex couples. However, the Federal government is likely to address the
issue in the immediate future. For the most part, the argument is that most
people believe that marriage, or the legal recognition of a same sex
relationship, is an equal right. 

In essence, many people believe that same sex
couples are entitled to the same rights as opposite sex couples. In Tennessee,
gay rights are clearly violated not only by the laws, but by the language of
the laws. Laws and their language must be addressed in Tennessee. Marriage must
be available to all individuals in order to ensure equal rights.

Gay Marriage Laws in Texas

Gay Marriage Laws in Texas

In Texas,
marriage is defined as a union between an opposite sex couple. In addition, no
form of a same sex relationships are recognized in Texas. Gay marriages are
strictly forbidden for two reasons. First, the state enacted the Defense of
Marriage act, which defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman. 

addition, the state passed a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage
in 2005. However, there have been some legal challenges to the amendment and to
the wording of the amendment. In the meantime, Texas marriage consists of a
union between a man and a woman and all other unions are legally prohibited.

The first challenge towards the definition of marriage in Texas is that it
violates individual civil rights. By prohibiting individuals from getting
married, they prohibit them form obtaining the rights of marriage. In essence,
LGBT individuals lose their right to marry and they lose any rights and
responsibilities associated with marriage in Texas. 

Gay couples currently have
no legal recourse in order to obtain the rights offered to other
individuals.  In addition, the wording of the amendment is claimed to have
made marriage illegal in Texas. Marriage is clearly defined and followed by
forbidden acts such as issuing a marriage license to a same sex couple. 

amendment also includes wording that forbids state and local governments from
recognizing any union that resembles marriage. In essence, marriage resembles
marriage and some people claim that the law prohibits all couples from getting
married. Legal challenges are currently in progress in Texas. Gay marriage
advocates are excited that the state may very well have outlawed marriage and
in fact, provided equal rights for everyone by doing so.

In Texas, gay marriage is currently illegal. In fact, some claim that marriage
is illegal all together in Texas. Marriage has been clearly define by laws in Texas.
Gay marriage was banned by the recent enactment of laws that strictly define
marriage as a union between opposite sex couples. However, the language
contained within the laws is currently being challenged on several fronts. In Texas,
marriage may not currently be legal for any couple. Legal challenges may force
Texas to repeal the law and begin the process all over again. Many are hoping
that they will reconsider their current ban on gay marriage.

Gay Marriage Laws in Utah

Gay Marriage Laws in Utah

In Utah,
marriage is strictly defined as a union between one man and one woman. In fact,
the state does not recognize any legal rights regarding any same sex
relationships. In addition to the Defense of Marriage Act, Utah passed
constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. In many states, the
constitutionality of banning gay marriage is being challenged in the courts. 

Many claim that such a ban is a violation of an individual’s constitutional
rights. In Utah, gay marriage is explicitly forbidden by the law’s of the
state. By banning gay marriage, the state violates individual rights on several
fronts. First, the state is preventing  couples access to their right to
marry. In addition, the couples are not entitled to the rights and
responsibilities acquired through marriage. In Utah, gay couples cannot receive
any rights or responsibilities that relate to their relationship.

In Utah, marriage is currently viewed as a unique relationship between a man
and a woman.  However, in 2005, a bill was introduced that would have
allowed same sex couples to enter into a reciprocal benefits agreement in Utah.
Gay couples would have been able to enter into an agreement that would have
offered them some of the legal benefits of marriage. However, the bill was
defeated by the Senate. 

In Utah, marriage is currently only allowed for a
couple that consists of one man and one woman. In addition, same sex couples
have no access to any legal  recognition of their relationship. Because of
the lack of legal recognition, couples have no protection granted for the
rights that should be afforded to any couple in Utah. Gay rights advocates
state that the rights of marriage include things such as inheritance, shared
property, and the right to make health car decisions for partners. In Utah, gay
couples are unable to enjoy any of those rights.

In Utah, gay marriage is prohibited. In addition, there is no legal recognition
afforded to same sex relationships in any form. Same sex couples have no legal
recourse if a partner should die, or if the couple should separate. It can be
very difficult for a partner to prove ownership of property or assets, if there
is no written documentation. 

In addition, no written documentation pertaining
to their relationship will be legally  allowed and therefore, an
individual will have no proof of ownership. In Utah, marriage is the only
legally enforceable relationship contract.  In fact, in Utah, Marriage is
considered a sacrament of the church and the church does not condone same sex
relationships. The separation of church and state, is seriously lacking in the
marriage law’s of Utah.