Where is Gay Marriage Legal?

Not here in Illinois. And not in the majority of states.

The fact that same-sex couples cannot legally marry in most places across the country continues to be a controversial issue. Advocates of gay rights have long fought to legalize gay marriage in the US, arguing that same-sex couples should be able to marry in every one of the 50 states and enjoy the same benefits of marriage that opposite sex couples hold.

It is widely believed that objections to same sex marriage are likely to diminish in the coming years, as surveys have shown an increasing acceptance of gay marriage. A 2010 Chicago-area poll (Tribune/WGN) reflects opinions that fall in line with those across the country on gay marriage: 42% opposed legalizing same-sex marriage, 42% approved and 15% had no opinion.

Interestingly, when those polled were asked their opinion on civil unions, the majority (54%) said they approve of civil unions.

While controversy continues about gay marriage and civil unions, there remains a great deal of confusion about same-sex marriage on a state-by-state basis. Here’s a summary of what we know now.

As of May, 2011, same-sex couples can legally marry in the following jurisdictions:

New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Iowa and the District of Columbia.


If a couple marries in one of these locations, they will be recognized as a legally married couple, providing they continue to live in one of these jurisdictions. In addition, they will also be legally recognized as a married couple if they live in one the following locations which all recognize out-of-state marriages of same sex couples:

New York, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

On the other hand, there are many states where gay marriage is forbidden by constitution. These are:

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Here in Illinois same-sex marriage is banned by statute. The same is true for Indiana.

Just as is true here in the US, other countries across the globe are divided on the subject of gay marriage.  The countries which recognize gay marriage and issue same-sex marriage licenses that are legally identical to opposite-sex marriage licenses are:

Belgium, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden.

It is important to know that the laws across the United States involving gay marriage and civil unions are in flux, as the legislatures of the individual states address these subjects on an ongoing basis. For updates on the continuing changes in these areas of the law, check our blog.