In the United States of America, same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide since June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court ruled inObergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The court ruled that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and the refusal to recognize those marriages performed in other jurisdictions violates the Due Process and the Equal Protectionclauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The ruling overturned a precedent, Baker v. Nelson.
While civil rights campaigning took place from the 1970s, the issue became prominent from around 1993, when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled inBaehr v. Lewin that the prohibition was unconstitutional. The ruling led to federal actions and actions by several states, to restrict marriage to male-female couples, in particular the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). During the period of 2003 to 2015, various lower court decisions, state legislation, and popular referendums had already legalized same-sex marriage to some degree in thirty-eight out of fifty U.S. states, in the U.S. territory Guam, and in the District of Columbia. In 2013 the Supreme Court overturned a key provision of DOMA, declaring part of it unconstitutional and in breach of the Fifth Amendment in United States v. Windsor because it “single[d] out a class of persons” for discrimination, by refusing to treat their marriages equally under federal law when state law had created them equally valid. The ruling led to the federal government’s recognition of same-sex marriage, with federal benefits for married couples connected to either the state of residence or the state in which the marriage was solemnized. However the ruling focused on the provision of DOMA responsible for the federal government refusing to acknowledge State sanctioned same-sex marriages, leaving the question of state marriage laws itself to the individual States. The Supreme Court addressed that question two years later in 2015, ruling, in Obergefell, that same-sex married couples were to be constitutionally accorded the same recognition as opposite-sex couples at state/territory levels, as well as at federal level.
By the time that same-sex marriage became legal nationally, public opinion on the subject had reached almost 60% approval levels according to polls by The Wall Street Journal, the Human Rights Campaign, and CNN,having been consistently over 50% since 2010 and trending consistently upward over the years prior.
Same-sex marriages are licensed in and recognized by all U.S. states and Washington, D.C., as well as all U.S. territories except American Samoa. On July 3, 2015, the Attorney General for American Samoa stated “we are reviewing the opinion [Obergefell v. Hodges] and its potential applicability to American Samoa, and will provide comment when it is completed.” On January 6, 2016, Alabama’s Chief Justice, Roy Moore, issued a ruling forbidding state officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The effect of the ruling was not immediately clear, as any such judges who refused to issue licenses could be found in contempt of court for disobeying a federal judge’s order.
Officials of fourteen counties in three states are still unwilling to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Those wishing to marry within the state must travel to another part of the state in order to obtain a license.
Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, former vice presidents Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, and current Vice President Joe Biden have voiced their support for legal recognition, as have former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. Former president George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara have served as witnesses to a same-sex wedding, but neither has publicly stated whether this means they support same-sex marriage in general; George W. Bush reportedly offered to officiate the same wedding, but has similarly not made a public statement regarding his position on the issue (as president, he was opposed). Fifteen U.S. senators announced their support in the spring of 2013. By April 2013 a majority of the Senate had expressed support for same-sex marriage. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio became the first sitting Republican senator to endorse same-sex marriage in March 2013, followed by Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois in April, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in June, and Susan Collins of Maine a year later.
During the 2008 presidential election campaign, Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin stated: “I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that that’s where we would go because I don’t support gay marriage.”
A CNN poll on February 19, 2015 found that 63% of Americans believe gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, up from 49% in August 2010. In the wake of the Obergefelldecision, CNN polling found that 59% of Americans felt the decision was correct.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll from February–March 2014 found a record high of 59% of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, with only 34% opposed and 7% with no opinion. In May 2013, a Gallup poll showed that 53% of Americans would vote for a law legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Three previous readings over the course of a year consistently showed support at 50% or above. Gallup noted: “Just three years ago, support for gay marriage was 44%. The current 53% level of support is essentially double the 27% in Gallup’s initial measurement on gay marriage, in 1996.” Some commentators, however, have noted instances where polling data has understated voter opposition to referendums banning same-sex marriage. One 2010 study concluded that “polls on gay marriage ballot initiatives generally under-estimate the opposition to gay marriage by about seven percentage points”.
As of 2013, public support for same-sex marriage in the United States has solidified above 50%. Public support for same-sex marriage has grown at an increasing pace since the 1990s. In 1996, just 25% of Americans supported legalization of same-sex marriage. Polls have shown that support is identical among whites and Hispanics, while support for same-sex marriage trails among blacks. Polling trends in 2010 and 2011 showed support for same-sex marriage gaining a majority, although the difference is within the error limit of the analysis.On May 20, 2011, Gallup reported majority support for same-sex marriage for the first time in the country. In June 2011, two prominent polling organizations released an analysis of the changing trend in public opinion about same-sex marriage in the United States, concluding that “public support for the freedom to marry has increased, at an accelerating rate, with most polls showing that a majority of Americans now support full marriage rights for all Americans.”
In 2009, a pair of economists at Emory University tied the passage of state bans on same-sex marriage in the US to an increase in the rates of HIV infection. The study linked the passage of same-sex marriage ban in a state to an increase in the annual HIV rate within that state of roughly 4 cases per 100,000 population.
A study by the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health found that gay men in Massachusetts visited health clinics significantly less often following the legalization of same-sex marriage in that state.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Same-sex marriage in the USA, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.