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What You Should Know About State Marriage Laws

What You Should Know About State Marriage Laws

In addition, same sex marriages could not be recognized no matter where they took place. No same sex union would be afforded any legal recognition. In fact, the state forbids individuals from obtaining any of the rights or responsibilities of marriage if they are in a same sex relationship. However, recently, government employees in same sex relationships, have been granted some of the rights associated with marriage. Trends suggest that government employees are sometimes granted certain rights before those same rights and protections are offered to the general public. 
While private employers often have their own policies regarding discrimination and other issues related to the LGBT community, there is often no legal recourse. In fact, the company is the only entity that has an obligation to uphold its policies. Due to the lack of laws, many companies abstain from enacting such policies. In fact, many companies fear the consequences associated with enacting such policies. However, government employees right,s will eventually extend to the general public.
Arkansas

Arkansas forbids legal recognition of gay marriage through the Defense of Marriage act, in addition to constitutional amendments that explicitly forbid same sex marriage. Arkansas also fails to recognize any same sex marriages legally performed in another state. By denying the legality of these marriages, the state effectively takes away all rights and responsibilities afforded to that marriage. Uniquely, a sub-chapter legally allows employers to offer benefits to domestic partners. Few states make such allowances for domestic partners. In fact, the sub-chapter makes a certain allowance for the term domestic partner in the constitution. However, the implications of the inclusion of that phrase, are yet unknown. 
Many believe that it could be used as a tool to allow legal recognition for domestic partnerships. If this occurs, many same sex couples could attain some of the rights that are associated with marriage. In many cases, domestic partners can jointly own property, make medical decisions and inherit property in the absence of a will. In addition, domestic partnerships are usually contractual relationships that require no legal action to end. While Arkansas law denied same sex couples the ability to divorce, divorce would not be necessary for domestic partnerships. In fact, domestic partnerships are ended when either individual decides to to end them. Domestic partnerships have no legal similarities to marriages, except that the individuals are afforded some legal rights regarding their relationship.

South Carolina


South Carolina offers no legal recognition to same sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships. However, a constitutional amendment forbids the state from attempting to legally prevent contracts for same sex partners. In addition, a bill was introduced that would legally allow civil unions for same sex couples. While the term “marriage” is left out of the language of the bill, same sex couples would still be afforded many of the rights and responsibilities associated with marriage. There has been no action on the bill and it may have to reintroduced. 
However, the original introduction of the bill shows that South Carolina is giving serious consideration to equal rights for the LGBT community. By legally recognizing civil unions, the state would allow LGBT couples access to rights that they are currently denied. Those rights include the right to own property jointly and to inherit that property. In essence, a same sex couple would have access to rights that allow them to mutually share in property and assets, which also affords them the right to inherit the other half of those assets.

Washington

Currently, Washington state does not legally recognize any same sex marriages. However, Washington does recognize domestic partnerships. Same sex couples can exercises many of the same rights as married couples. The only right that is not afforded to same sex couples, is the right to call their union marriage. They can in fact, exercise all other rights that pertain to the marriage of a man and a woman. 
Domestic partners in Washington state, have the right to own property jointly, inherit property in the absence of a will and to make medical decisions for their partner. Also, domestic violence laws apply to domestic partners, even though they do not apply in many other states. In addition, domestic partners can exercise their right not to testify against their partner in a court of law. In many cases, the right to avoid testifying, is not granted to same sex couples. However, Washington State offers all marriage rights and responsibilities to domestic partnerships.

Gay Marriage Laws in Alabama

Gay Marriage Laws in AlabamaGay
marriage news has been more prevalently covered by the media. In fact, the LGBT
community has been more widely accepted by society for quite some time.
However, gay marriage facts suggest that state laws are not keeping up with
that trend. Unfortunately, many states still forbid gay marriage. Facts suggest
that this trend may continue for some time.


Unfortunately, many states will
continue to ban gay marriage. News coverage is slowly helping to change laws
and encourage equality. However, the process is slow, which sometimes
forces  LGBT couples to travel to other states to enter into a civil union
or gay marriage. Facts suggest that those marriages are not likely to be
recognized by a large percentage of states in the U.S.

Same sex marriages and civil unions were banned in Alabama by the Sanctity of
Marriage Amendment in 2006. The amendment passed by 81% of votes. The amendment
was meant to protect the sanctity of marriage as a union between a man and
woman. 


In the amendment, it is made clear that no union, other than a marriage
between a man and woman will be recognized by the state of Alabama, regardless
of whether or not the couple had a license and whether or not it was legally
banned when the couple entered into gay marriage. 


Facts  suggest an
opposition to any LGBT relationships are made clear in the amendment. Law
makers worded it in such a way that it bans all unions between same sex
couples, including gay marriage. News trends suggest that this is not an
uncommon practice in the wording of amendments. 


While domestic partnership is
not specifically banned according to the language used, it does ban same sex
marriage and civil unions explicitly. In addition, it specifically states that
it only recognizes the unique relationships between a man and a woman, opposing
relationships between same sex couples at least 6 times.

While many people fight for equal rights for everyone, some state laws are
significantly lacking for the allowance of equal rights. For example, Alabama
has no recognition for hate crimes committed against the LGBT community. Not
only do they forbid gay marriage, facts suggest that they are opposed to equal
rights for the LGBT community. 



In fact, the only reason that homosexuality is
now legal in Alabama, is because of a federal statute that legalized it. The
Sanctity of Marriage Amendment also alludes to the fact that the stability and welfare
of society is jeopardized by gay marriage.  


News media fails to publicly
scrutinize states that pass such amendments. Often, the public is only exposed
to this type of news, when there is a large public outcry against such actions.
While many media outlets cover some issues related to gay marriage, news
coverage often excludes the pain associated with couples inability to have
their relationship legally recognized.

Gay Marriage Laws in Connecticut

Gay Marriage Laws in Connecticut

The nationwide gay marriage debate  was partially answered by a civil union law passed in 2005, in Connecticut. Gay marriage issues were highly publicized at that time and Connecticut became the second state in the nation to adopt and legally recognize civil unions and the legal rights granted to the couple. In fact, Connecticut would later allow LGBT couples the same rights and responsibilities of marriage by legally recognizing gay marriage. 
Connecticut was only the third state to legally recognize gay marriage. Debates continue as to the language used to describe unions and marriages. In fact, California, which had once recognized gay marriage, has since made it illegal and currently only allows for the legal recognition of domestic partnerships.  Regardless of the language used, LGBT couples in Connecticut are now entitled to the same benefits as married opposite sex couples.
After Connecticut legally accepted civil unions in 2005, the gay marriage debate continued in that state and nationwide. In 2006, a judge ruled that civil unions provided rights and protections similar to marriage and failed to legally recognize gay marriage in Connecticut. In essence, it was ruled that banning gay marriage, did not violate any individual rights as granted by the state of Connecticut. 
The court ruled that civil unions were the only legally necessary allowance for LGBT couples.  Civil unions were meant to be similar to marriage, without being exactly the same. Yet, the LGBT community disagreed and the debate continued in Connecticut. Gay couples wanted their unions to be officially recognized as marriages. LGBT couples wanted equal rights across the board, including the right to enter into a marriage. 
The debate continued and civil unions remained the only legally recognized partnerships for those in the LGBT community.  However, the courts later decided that gay marriage was legal in Connecticut. Gay marriage is currently only legal in only a few states.
The Connecticut State Supreme Court ruled that LGBT couples were entitled to equal protection and rights by the states constitution. In fact, Kerrigan V. Commissioner of Public Health was decided in 2008, and made gay marriage legal in Connecticut. Gay marriage is currently legal in Connecticut and couples enjoy all of the rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage.
In fact, all civil unions in Connecticut will be recognized as marriages as of late 2010. The gay marriage debate has been answered, at least in Connecticut. Gay marriage debates continue in many states. However, every time a positive action is taken toward equal rights, opposition shrinks and the possibility of equality becomes closer at hand.

Gay Marriage Laws in Delaware

Gay Marriage Laws in DelawareState
laws in Delaware currently oppose gay marriage. However, a bill that would have
banned gay marriage in Delaware was defeated in 2009.  Currently, there is
no legal recognition for civil unions or domestic partnerships but there is
also no ban on gay marriage in Delaware. 



However, in Delaware, gay and LGBT
rights are lagging behind other states and a large percentage of individuals oppose
gay marriage. In fact discrimination against sexual orientation was not illegal
until 2009. Also there are no laws preventing discrimination based on gender
identity, except for government employees.

It is clear that Delaware will continue to oppose gay marriage as long as
they do not provide the most basic rights to those in the LGBT community. In
2001, Delaware code finally made hate crimes against a person based on actual
or perceived sexual orientation, a crime. In addition, in 2009 Delaware code
began to legally forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation. 



This
discrimination applied to housing, insurance, employment and other areas. 
However, that discrimination did not extend to marriage in Delaware. Gay marriage
is still not not legally recognized. In addition, there are no laws that
prevent hate crimes or discrimination against individuals based on perceived or
actual gender identity unless the individual is a government employee. 


Executive Order number 8 protects government employers and employees from any
act of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Like many
other states, government employees enjoy many rights not afforded to the
general public.



In general, government employees should not receive special
protection simply because they are employed by the government. The general
public should be entitled to the same rights and protection, or the government
becomes complacent in furthering discrimination. In some cases, special rights
afforded to government employees can protect the public. 

For instance, firemen
can enter a home without a warrant in order to put out a fire. In that case,
their special rights protect the public. However, when government employees are
entitled to rights and protection, regarding issues of equality, the general
public should also be entitled to those rights. However,  in Delaware, gay
rights for the public may follow after those afforded to government employees.

Until Delaware begins to recognize equal rights for all individuals, there will
continue to be a large population that will oppose gay marriage. In Delaware,
gay rights must equal those of heterosexual individuals and government
employees, before any steps can be taken towards reaching full equality. 


By opposing
gay marriage, Delaware is itself committing an act of discrimination. In Delaware,
gay rights must be recognized for the general public, just as they are
recognized for government employees and this includes the right to get married.

Gay Marriage Laws in District of Columbia

Gay Marriage Laws in District of Columbia

In 2009, the District of Columbia passed a law that legally allows for same sex marriage. In fact, couples have begun to apply for licenses and same sex marriages have begun to take place. Couples must wait three full business days after receiving their license before they can get married. 
Sinjoyla Townsend and Angelisa Young became the first couple to enter into a legal same sex marriage in the District of Columbia after becoming the first couple to apply for a license. Same sex marriage licenses were available to the public beginning on March 3, 2010. The couple was married on March 9, 2010.
Residents of the District have been free to register as domestic partners since 1992. In addition, the Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act of 2009, allowed the District to begin recognizing civil unions and domestic partnerships from other states. In addition, the Act grants the mayor the right to grant greater rights to partnerships from states that offered lesser or unequal rights to those couples. 
Same sex marriages became legal due to the passing of the  Religious Freedom And Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act. After the act was passed, it was subject to a congressional review period of 30 days. Like expected, congress did nothing to prevent the Act from becoming legal. Legal same sex marriages began to take place in the District of Columbia on March 9, 2010.
Those opposed to same sex marriages filed a lawsuit to block legal same sex marriages, claiming that residents should have been able to vote on the issue, but the lawsuit was rejected by the courts. 
Judge Roberts ruled that decisions regarding same sex marriages, were the responsibility of the local courts because it is a local issue. In addition, he reiterated that Congress could have prevented the legal recognition of same sex marriage in the District of Columbia, but they failed to do so. 
While Judge Roberts refused to hear arguments regarding same sex marriage laws in the District of Columbia, he also stated that the debate was not likely to end. In fact, he expected arguments to continue and predicted that the case would be heard in court. 
In the mean time, same sex marriage is legally allowed and recognized, in the District of Columbia and many couples have already begun to take advantage of the new law. In fact, many people are celebrating the legal recognition of same sex marriages by taking part in a large LGBT wedding in the Capitol. Four hundred LGBT couples plan to marry in the Capitol on March 20, 2010.

Gay Marriage Laws in Florida

Gay Marriage Laws in Florida

In Florida, gay marriage is not legally allowed because the state has statues that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In 1997, the state passed the Defense of Marriage Act which bars legal recognition of same sex relationships including those that are legally recognized by other states. In November, 2008, Same sex marriages and civil unions were banned in Florida. 
Gay  marriage, civil unions and domestic partnership are without any legal recognition in Florida. In fact, individuals in LGBT relationships, are entitled to no rights or responsibilities that pertain to their relationship. In addition, in Florida, gay individuals are unable to legally adopt children. While court cases are pending, LGBT individuals are unable to even adopt their partner’s child. Florida is the only state that has a ban on  gay adoption. Even though the courts ruled that it was unconstitutional to forbid gay adoption in 2008, the issue has not yet been settled. Court cases are still pending and people must agree, in writing, that they are not homosexual when applying to adopt a child in Florida.
The gay marriage debate continues in Florida. In fact, some local governments have begun to afford legal recognition to domestic partnership, defying state law. In 2010, Miami allowed benefits for domestic partnerships. In addition, Broward county recognizes Domestic partnership. In 2004, an attorney filed suit in Broward County seeking legal recognition of gay marriage. Debates continue on local and state levels. In certain cities, such as Key West, individuals have symbolically requested the right to a marriage licenses, even though only the County government has the right to grant licenses. 
There have been peaceful demonstrations of that sort around the state of Florida. After LGBT couples are turned down for their licenses, they will often take part in ceremonies to bring attention to the inequality perpetrated by their state’s government. In Florida, gay marriages are not legally recognized but that does not prevent couples from taking part in ceremonies meant to solidify their relationship and bring attention to the gay marriage debate.
The gay marriage debate is likely to continue for some time. While some people believe that marriage can only define the union of a man and a woman, others believe that it can apply to any couples that voluntarily enter into a legal union. In Florida, gay rights are lagging behind those provided in states like Connecticut, that legally recognize gay marriages. 
Debate will continue until equal rights are afforded to all citizens, as provided for in the United State’s Constitution and in each state’s constitution. Perhaps the outcome of pending court cases regarding gay adoption in Florida, will effect the laws pertaining to gay marriage.

Gay Marriage Laws in Alaska

Gay Marriage Laws in AlaskaWhen
Alaska finally determined that state and local benefits must also apply to same
sex partners in 2005, they began to allow for some equal rights for same sex
couples. However the courts  really began addressing the issue in 1998. In
fact, a judge ruled that there should be equal gay marriage rights and granted
a constitutional right for same sex marriage. However, the decision was stayed
while appeals pended in the State Supreme court. 



In 1999, the state Supreme
Court ruled against gay marriage  and stated that LGBT couples could not
seek the right to marry due to a 1998 amendment. That amendment ruled against
gay marriage rights and held that LGBT couples had no right to get married or
appreciate the benefits of marriage. 


Finally, in 2005, the Alaska Supreme
Courts ruled that same-sex partners  employed by the government, were
entitled to all benefits granted in marriage and upheld some gay marriage
rights . The road to such benefits, was long and complicated. Hopefully, Alaska
is on the path to provide for equal gay marriage rights.


In 1998, an Alaskan Supreme Court Judge ruled that gay marriage rights existed,
as long as there was no compelling reason to deny those rights. However,
approximately ten months later, the state’s voters amended the states
constitution to define marriage as a contract between a man and a woman. 

In
addition, Section 25, forbid same sex couples from the benefits of marriage and
ruled against gay marriage. In fact, it stated that no union between same sex
couples, would be recognized by the state, regardless of what state or country
the marriage took place in. 


The Supreme Court and residents of Alaska, had
ruled against gay marriage. In addition, no rights regarding domestic
partnerships or civil unions were recognized. Of course that included divorce
and state benefits. If one spouse were ordered to pay spousal support in
another state, and moved to Alaska, they would be relieved of that duty.


However, in 2005, Alaska finally recognized certain gay marriage rights for
same sex partners. Initially, the Supreme court ruled against gay marriage, but
later granted gay marriage rights and awarded the same benefits as those
afforded to marriage to same sex partners of local and state employees. 


Now, gay
marriage rights in Alaska are beginning to compare favorable with those of
marriage between a man and a woman. In fact, Alaska may be on the road to
offering gay marriage rights that are in line with those afforded to marriages
between a man and a woman.



Gay Marriage Laws in Arizona

Gay Marriage Laws in ArizonaWhile many people have arguments
against gay marriage , the residents of Arizona disagreed with many of those
arguments. Arizona Proposition 107 was supported and proposed by those that
have staunch arguments against gay marriage.  



However, the proposition did
not pass when it was proposed in 2006. If it had passed, the proposition would
have banned gay marriage in Arizona. As it stands now, Arizona does not
officially recognize same sex marriages in their state or those performed
elsewhere. 


In addition, Arizona still defines marriage as a union between a man
and a woman. However, in 2006, Arizona was the first state that voted down a
proposition that banned gay marriage. In all other cases, similar propositions
have been passed in other states. In 2008, Arizona did pass Proposition
102,  which stated that only a union between a man and a woman would be
recognized in that state.


The gay marriage debate in Arizona rages on. However, the  The Arizona
Together Coalition successfully prevented Proposition 107 from becoming legal.
The voters in Arizona voted against the ballot initiative. 


The initiative would
have banned gay marriage and all benefits associated with marriage. The gay
marriage debate in Arizona is far from over. While it was a positive step that
voters did not approve of Arizona Proposition 107, Arizona still does not
legally allow or recognize gay marriage. 


There are still many with arguments
against gay marriage. Many people believe that it should be called a civil
union or domestic partnership in order to avoid its association with marriage,
which many still clearly define as a union between a man and a woman. In
addition, there are those that are simply against same sex unions, no matter
what they are called.


While Arizona was quick to dismiss a ban on gay marriage, there are still many arguments
against gay marriage. In Arizona, the residents seem to be on the middle ground
in the gay marriage debate. 


While they refused to ban gay marriage, they have
not legalized it either. The gay marriage debate will never be fully answered
because their will always be people that have strong arguments against gay
marriage. 


However, there will always be those that are supportive of gay
marriage and the rights and benefits associated with it. Maybe the rest of the
country can at least strive for the middle ground found in Arizona. It is a
step in the right direction in the gay marriage debate.

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
couples.   


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 California

Gay Marriage Laws in CaliforniaMany
people have been part of an effort aimed at legalizing gay marriage. In fact,
in California, gay marriages used to be legally allowed and recognized.
However, as of 2008, California Proposition 8, defined marriage as a union
between a man and a woman. 


In addition, Proposition 8 does not allow any other
type of union to be recognized by the state. For several years previous to
Proposition 8, domestic partnerships were recognized, which entitled partners
to all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage. In fact, partners were
legally allowed to change their last names, to match that of their partner.


In early 2008, there were oral arguments questioning equal rights for the LGBT
community in California. Gay marriage was legally allowed for 6 months in 2008
because the State Supreme court held that the limitations on same sex unions
violated the constitution. However, a public initiative reinstated the ban on
gay marriage in California. Gay marriages performed during a certain time,
still have the designation of marriage in California.


However, they are not
likely to lean towards legalizing gay marriage in the immediate future. In California,
gay marriages are no longer recognized. While, the state does not recognize new
marriages in the LGBT community,  is does grant the rights of marriage to
same sex unions.  In fact, Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 54, which
recognizes all gay marriages that took place before November, 2008. Those
marriages could have taken place in any state, as long as they occurred before
that date.


Proposition 8 was challenged in The Supreme Court of California  but was
upheld by a vote of 6-1. However, the courts allowed California gay marriages
to remain valid if the took place prior to November 5, 2008. However, many
people are making an attempt at legalizing gay marriage. In fact, Perry v.
Schwarzenegger is a current case aimed at at legalizing gay marriage, by
challenging the legal validity of Proposition 8.


The case could have have legal
ramifications nationwide. Depending on the outcome, this case could be a large
step toward legalizing gay marriage nationwide. While many in California still
register domestic partnerships with the state, they are striving to regain the
rights lost when Proposition 8 passed.