A Comprehensive Guide to Gay Marriage Laws in the US
Family Law

A Comprehensive Guide to Gay Marriage Laws in the US

The right to marry is a fundamental freedom in the United States, which also extends to same-sex couples. Since the Supreme Court ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2015, same-sex couples can now legally wed throughout the country.

Here you’ll find information about same-sex marriage laws by state and country, as well as details about where marriage between people of the same gender has been introduced and whether or not it has been extended to include other types of relationships.


What’s Changed since the 2015 Same-Sex Marriage Decision?

There have been a few changes to the laws around same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court ruling, but nothing major. All US states must now recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other countries, and federal employees may now receive spousal benefits regardless of their sexual orientation.

This doesn’t mean that everything has changed regarding gay marriage, though. Many states still recognize only traditional marriage, and the federal government hasn’t conducted any major overhaul of the tax and benefits system to accommodate same-sex marriages. These changes have been made on a state-by-state basis, and in some cases, only after some significant lobbying.

Which States Currently Recognize Same-Sex Marriage?

At the time of writing, same-sex marriage is legal in 44 US states and the District of Columbia. It has been legal since June 2015 in all 50 states following the Supreme Court decision on Obergefell v. Hodges. In the District of Columbia, gay marriage has been legal since 2010. Meanwhile, New York State made it legal in 2011, and New Jersey did the same in 2013.

Which US States Allow Gay Marriage but for Other Reasons

The number of states where gay marriage is legal has been increasing by the month. There are five states where same-sex marriage is legal, but for other reasons. In Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, same-sex marriage is allowed due to court rulings.

In Virginia, it is allowed because the state’s attorney general declined to appeal a court ruling. In Georgia, a federal judge issued an injunction against the state’s gay marriage ban in early 2017; however, the state’s attorney general has appealed the ruling, so gay marriage is currently on hold.

Which US States Have Rejected Same-Sex Marriage?

There are currently 15 US states that have rejected same-sex marriage. In Alabama and Arkansas, laws banning same-sex marriage were ruled unconstitutional in 2014, but state officials have yet to issue guidance on how to proceed.

In Florida, a federal judge ruled in 2015 that the state must allow same-sex marriages, but their Supreme Court appealed the ruling. In Kentucky, the state has been conducting same-sex marriages since September 2014, but after a long legal battle, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of the state. In Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, gay marriage has been rejected by the state legislature.

Countries that Recognize Gay Marriage

Alongside the majority of US states and the federal government, many other countries have embraced marriage equality. In Europe, same-sex marriage has been legalized in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom since 2001. In Central and South America, gay marriage is legal in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay. In Oceania, same-sex marriage is recognized in Australia and New Zealand. In Asia, it is legal in Israel and Taiwan.


Overall, gay marriage has made significant progress since the turn of the millennium, and it is expected to continue expanding into new regions and cultures. However, those who favor marriage equality can’t let their guard down.

Many people and governments are still opposed to this type of union, and there is always more work to be done. Keep informed about the current state of affairs to ensure that your voice is heard regarding gay marriage laws. Whether you’re fighting to legalize it in your state or abroad, knowledge is power, and you can use this to make real change.

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