Legal Definitions of Marriage in the United States

How is marriage defined in the United States? Currently 37 states have passed laws which define marriage as limited to a union between one man and one woman: 33 state legislatures have passed statutes to that effect, and 4 states (Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada) have, by popular vote, passed Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) as constitutional amendments; the Ohio state legislature is currently debating a Defense of Marriage Act. Thirteen states, therefore, do not currently have laws on their books which limit marriage to a union between one man and one woman.

A C D F G H I K L M N O P R S T U V W
State Statute, Amendment, Court Ruling Status of Marriage Equality and Relevant Statute/Ammendment Texts
Alabama Statute

"(d) No marriage license shall be issued in the State of Alabama to parties of the same sex"

AND

"(e) The state of Alabama shall not recognize as valid any marriage of parties of the same sex that occurred or was alleged to have occurred as a result of the law of any jurisdiction regardless of whether a marriage license was issued"; Alabama Stat. Sec. 30-1-19

Alaska Statute and Amendment

Statute:

"A same-sex relationship may not be recognized by the state as being entitled to the benefits of marriage."; Alaska Stat. 25.05.013 (b)

Amendment:

"To be valid or recognized in this state, a marriage may exist only between one man and one woman"; Alaska Constitution, Article 1, Sec. 25

Arizona

Statute

"Marriage between persons of the same sex is void and prohibited"; Ariz.Rev. Stat. Ann. ' 25 101

Arkansas

Statute

Marriage shall be only between a man and a woman. A marriage between persons of the same sex is void"; Ark. Stat. ' 9 11 109

California

Statute

"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California"; Ca. Fam. Sec. 308.5; State Constitution similarly revised in 2008.

Colorado

Statute

"(1) ...a marriage is valid in this state if: ...(b) it is only between one man and one woman"; Co. Stat. Sec. 14 2 104

Connecticut

Court Ruling

The state's supreme court ruled in October 2008 in favor of a constitutional right to marriage for gay and lesbian couples; the state started issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples in November 2008.

Delaware

Statute

"A marriage is prohibited and void between a person and his or her ancestor, descendant, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, first cousin or between persons of the same gender";Del. Stat. Title 13 ' 101

District of Columbia

City Council Legislation

In May 2009 the Council recognized marriages of same-sex couples entered into in other jurisdictions as valid in the District.

Florida

Statute

"(1) Marriages between persons of the same sex entered into in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, or relationships between persons of the same sex which are treated as marriages in any jurisdiction, whether within or outside the State of Florida, the United States, or any other jurisdiction, either domestic or foreign, or any other place or location, are not recognized for any purpose in this state."

AND

"(3) For purposes of interpreting any state statute or rule, the term 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the term 'spouse' applies only to a member of such a union"; Florida Stat. Ann. ' 741.212

Georgia

Statute

"It is declared to be the public policy of this state to recognize the union only of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state"; Georgia Code ' 19 3 3.1

Hawaii

Statute and Amendment

Statute:

"Marriages between a man and a woman legal in the country where contracted shall be held legal in the courts of this State"; Haw. Rev Stat. ' 572 3

Amendment:

"The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite sex couples"; Hi. Const. Art 1, ' 23

Idaho

Statute

"All marriages contracted without this state, which would be valid by the laws of the state or country in which the same were contracted, are valid in this state, unless they violate the public policy of this state. Marriages that violate the public policy of this state include, but are not limited to, same sex marriages, and marriages entered into under the laws of another state or country with the intent to evade the prohibitions of the marriage laws of this state"; Idaho Stat. ' 32 209

Illinois

Statute

"(a) The following marriages are prohibited: ...(5) a marriage between 2 individuals of the same sex"; IL. Stat. Ch. 750 ' 5/212

Indiana

Statute

"Sec. 1. (a) Only a female may marry a male. Only a male may marry a female. (b) A marriage between persons of the same gender is void in Indiana even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized"; Ind. Code ' 31 11 1 1

Iowa

Court Ruling

In April 2009, the State Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution guarntees the right of same-sex couples to marry; the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples that same month.

Kansas

Statute

"The marriage contract is to be considered in law as a civil contract between two parties who are of opposite sex. All other marriages are declared to be contrary to the public policy of this state and are void"; Kansas Stat. Ann. ' 23 101

Kentucky

Statute

"(1) Marriage is prohibited and void: ...(d) Between members of the same sex"; Ky. Stat. ' 402.020

Louisiana

Statute

"Persons of the same sex may not contract marriage with each other"; La. C.C. Art. 89.

"A purported marriage between persons of the same sex violates a strong public policy of the state of Louisiana and such a marriage contracted in another state shall not be recognized in this state for any purpose, including the assertion of any right or claim as a result of the purported marriage"; La. C.C. Art. 3520

Maine

Statute

By state law, marriage licences should be issued to same-sex couples starting in September 2009.

Maryland

Statute

Both state law and the state's constitution appear to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Massachusetts

Court Ruling

In Mary 2004, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the state's constitution guarantees the right to marry for same-sex couples; the state began issuing marriage licences to those couples that month.

Michigan

Statute

"Sec. 1. Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman. As a matter of public policy, this state has a special interest in encouraging, supporting, and protecting that unique relationship in order to promote, among other goals, the stability and welfare of society and its children. A marriage contracted between individuals of the same sex is invalid in this state"; Mich. St. ' 551.1

Minnesota

Statute

"Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential. Lawful marriage may be contracted only between persons of the opposite sex and only when a license has been obtained as provided by law and when the marriage is contracted in the presence of two witnesses and solemnized by one authorized, or whom one or both of the parties in good faith believe to be authorized, so to do. Marriages subsequent to April 26, 1941, not so contracted shall be null and void"; Minn. Stat. Ann. ' 517.01

Mississippi

Statute

"(2) Any marriage between persons of the same gender is prohibited and null and void from the beginning. Any marriage between persons of the same gender that is valid in another jurisdiction does not constitute a legal or valid marriage in Mississippi"; Mississippi Code Ann. ' 93 1 1

Missouri

Statute

"1. It is the public policy of this state to recognize marriage only between a man and a woman"; Mo. Stat. 451.022

Montana

Statute

"(1) The following marriages are prohibited: ...(d) a marriage between persons of the same sex. (4) A contractual relationship entered into for the purpose of achieving a civil relationship that is prohibited under subsection (1) is void as against public policy."; Mont. Code Ann. ' 40 1 401

Nebraska

Statute

"Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska"; Neb. Const. Art 1, ' 29

Nevada

Statute

"Only a marriage between a male and a female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state"; Nevada, Question No. 2

New Hampshire

Statute

The state legislature passed a law in 2007 which will enable the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in January 2010.

New Jersey

None

No explicit provision in state law that would prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages in other jurisdictions. Domestic partner legislation became effective in 2007.

New Mexico

None

No explicit provision in state law that would prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages in other jurisdictions; state employees may enter into domestic partnerships.

New York

Court Ruling

New York's Court of Appeals ruled in February 2008 that same-sex couples legally married in other jurisdictions are entitled to recognition of their marriages in New York.

North Carolina

Statute

"Marriages, whether created by common law, contracted, or performed outside of North Carolina, between individuals of the same gender are not valid in North Carolina"; N.C. Gen. Stat. ' 51 1.2

North Dakota

Statute

"Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between one man and one woman to which the consent of the parties is essential. The marriage relation may be entered into, maintained, annulled, or dissolved only as provided by law. A spouse refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife"; N.D. Stat. ' 14 03 01

Ohio

Statute

Both state law and the state's constitution appear to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Oklahoma

Statute

"A marriage between persons of the same gender performed in another state shall not be recognized as valid and binding in this state as of the date of the marriage"; 43 Okl.St.Ann. ' 3.1

Oregon

Statute

Both state law and the state's constitution appear to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Pennsylvania

Statute

"It is hereby declared to be the strong and longstanding public policy of this Commonwealth that marriage shall be between one man and one woman. A marriage between persons of the same sex which was entered into in another state or foreign jurisdiction, even if valid where entered into, shall be void in this Commonwealth"; Pa. Stat. 23 Pa. C.S.A. ' 1704

Rhode Island

None

No explicit provision in state law that would prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages in other jurisdictions.

South Carolina

Statute

"A marriage between persons of the same sex is void ab initio and against the public policy of this State"; S.C. Stat. ' 20 1 15

South Dakota

Statute

"Marriage is a personal relation, between a man and a woman, arising out of a civil contract to which the consent of parties capable of making it is necessary"; S.D. Stat. ' 25 1 1

Tennessee

Statute

"(b) The legal union in matrimony of only one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be the only recognized marriage in this state. (c) Any policy, law or judicial interpretation that purports to define marriage as anything other than the historical institution and legal contract between one (1) man and one (1) woman is contrary to the public policy of Tennessee"; Tenn. Code Ann. ' 36 3 113

Texas

Statute

"(b) A marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union is contrary to the public policy of this state and is void in this state.

(c) The state or an agency or political subdivision of the state may not give effect to a:

(1) public act, record, or judicial proceeding that creates, recognizes, or validates a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union in this state or in any other jurisdiction; or

(2) right or claim to any legal protection, benefit, or responsibility asserted as a result of a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union in this state or in any other jurisdiction." TX Family ' 6.204

Utah

Statute

"The following marriages are prohibited and declared void: (5) between persons of the same sex"; Ut. Stat. ' 30 1 2

Virginia

Statute

"A marriage between persons of the same sex is prohibited. Any marriage entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created by such marriage shall be void and unenforceable"; Va. Code ' 20 45.2

Vermont

Statute

In April 2009 the state legislature enacted, over the Governor's veto, marriage equality legislation; the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in September 2009.

Washington

Statute

"Marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female... A; Wa. Stat. 26.04.010 A(1) Marriages in the following cases are prohibited: (c) When the parties are persons other than a male and a female"; Wa. Stat. 26.04.020

West Virginia

Statute

"A public act, record or judicial proceeding of any other state, territory, possession or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of any other state, territory, possession or tribe or a right or claim arising from the relationship shall not be given effect by this state"; Wv. Stat. 48 1 18a

Wisconsin

Statute

Both state law and the state's constitution appear to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Wyoming

Statute

Both state law and the state's constitution appear to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages.

Comments

Seperation of Church and State

If the government is supposed to seperate church and state, than why are they allowed to give benefits to married couples in the first place?

= Origin of Legalization of Marriage in the United States =

For some odd reason, no one has discussed this, but it's highly relevant and could help the debate between straight and gay advocates on marriage:
When and why did the United States Government decide that marriage should be "legalized" by the government and provide benefits (what are they?) for married people?
Answering that question will help determine the original legal intention of "marriage" in the United States.

The legal recognition of

The legal recognition of marriage between same sex is still a topic of heated debate.

On April 26, in the U.S., the State Senate from New Hampshire voted for a law guaranteeing virtually the same-sex couples all the legal rights that heterosexual spouses enjoy, reported the Washington Post the same day. The bill now goes to the governor, John Lynch, who has said he will sign.

The vote came shortly after the recent announcement that Gov. Eliot Spitzer will introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriages in the state of New York, reported April 23 the New York Times.

In addition, last December held a vote in the House from New Jersey legislature to recognize civil unions for same-sex couples.

The vote made New Jersey the third state, after Vermont and Connecticut in establishing civil unions for homosexuals, reported the New York Times on Dec. 15. Massachusetts is currently the only state to have introduced same-sex marriage.

The vote took place in New Jersey after the state Supreme Court ordered the authorities to ensure a same-sex couples the same tax benefits and legal rights as heterosexual married couples.

Outside the United States, advocacy groups and church family in Italy will hold a demonstration on May 12 in Rome. The event, the "Family Day" is part of a campaign to defend heterosexual marriage against proposals to give legal recognition to same-sex couples.

Last year in Mexico, despite the strong Catholic presence in the country, lawmakers in the capital gave couples the ability to register civil unions, although not formally legalizing same-sex marriage.

Measuring the Mexico City legislature gave gay couples the right to inheritance and other benefits, according to a report in the November 17 Associated Press.

Shortly thereafter, the state of Coahuila in northern Mexico, adopted a statement that guarantees similar legal status to members of a gay couple, reported Jan. 10.

At the end of last year in South Africa, the country's parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage, making him the first African country to do so, on 14 November reported the BBC.

The move followed a ruling by the South African Constitutional Court in 2005, which declared that the government had to legalize same-sex marriage. The ruling was based on a clause in the constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Before the vote, Cardinal Wilfred Napier, Archbishop of Durban, a statement from the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference to a parliamentary committee explaining why the Catholic Church was opposed to marriage for same-sex couples. seo

The text, dated Oct. 16, explained that the Church does not condemn homosexuals, but homosexual acts are contrary to natural law close the sexual act to the gift of life.

Post new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
infrastructu_e: