“The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Marriage equality has been back in the news following such milestones as President Obama’s public support of the rights of same-sex couples to marry, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s much-anticipated wedding, and the First Circuit Court of Appeals striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s important to note that Mitt Romney opposes not only same-sex marriage, but civil unions, which even Pres. George W. Bush supported. Here’s a brief look back at how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go…
Hawaii Supreme Court rules that denial of same-sex couples’ right to marry violates the Equal Protection clause of the state constitution and remands the case to the lower court for further proceedings. Subsequently, in 1998, Hawaii passes a state constitutional amendment reserving the right to define marriage to the Legislature, which then bans same-sex marriage.
President Clinton signs the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which upholds states’ rights to ban same-sex marriages and refuse to recognize such marriages performed elsewhere.
Vermont Supreme Court rules that the state constitution guarantees same-sex couples the same rights to marry as heterosexual couples, but leaves it up to the legislature to decide how to provide marriage rights and benefits to same-sex couples. In 2000, Gov. Howard Dean signs a civil union bill, making Vermont the first state to legally recognize same-sex couples.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules that the state constitution guarantees equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Gov. Mitt Romney’s attempt to overturn the decision through a constitutional amendment is ultimately unsuccessful.Voters in 13 states (Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah) pass constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. In the years to come, 20 more states follow.
Connecticut authorizes civil unions.
Following a court decision requiring the state to grant equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, New Jersey authorizes civil unions.
Washington, Oregon, and New Hampshire authorize civil unions.
Connecticut Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage.California Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, but it is overturned by constitutional amendment in the notorious referendum Proposition 8. Prop 8 is, in turn, struck down by the federal courts, and the case may yet be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Iowa Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage.New Hampshire, Vermont, and D.C. legislatures approve same-sex marriage.Maine passes same-sex marriage, which is subsequently overturned by referendum, and Washington passes “everything-but-marriage” law, which is upheld by referendum.
New York legislature passes same-sex marriage.Rhode Island, Illinois, Delaware, and Hawaii authorize civil unions.
Maryland and Washington legislatures pass same-sex marriage, but they are subject to referendums in November 2012. Delaware and Hawaii authorize civil unions.Gov. Chris Christie vetoes a same-sex marriage bill in New Jersey that passed overwhelmingly in the Senate and Assembly.North Carolina passes constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.Pres. Obama becomes the first president to publicly support marriage equality.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston strikes down a key part of DOMA.