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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions

Timeline of major developments in the U.S.
and the rest of the English speaking world:
from 2012 to 2014.

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We will update this timeline to the present time, shortly.

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See the previous essay for events between 2009 and 2011

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bullet star2012-FEB-13: WA: Governor Christine Gregoire (D) signed a same-sex marriage bill into law. As written, it would have become effective in 2012-JUN. It was the eighth state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. However, groups opposed to SSM mounted a referendum to delay activation of the law until at least after election day in 2012-NOV. More details.


starstarstar2012-NOV-06: MD, ME, WA: In an unprecedented development, voters on election day -- via three referendums -- extended marriage to same-sex couples in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State They were the eighth to tenth states in the U.S. to do so.



2013-APR-19: New Zealand: On APR-17, Parliament passed a bill to legalize SSM throughout the country. The Governor-General of New Zealand gave royal assent to the bill on 2013-APR-19. The law took effect four months later, on 2013-AUG-19. More details.

bullet star2013-MAY: RI. A bill to legalize SSM in Rhode Island was passed by both the House and Senate and returned to the House for a procedural vote in the House. It was signed into law by the Governor 2013-MAY. It was the eleventh state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. More details.

bullet star2013-MAY-07: DE: The Legislature approved a SSM bill and the Governor signed it into law the same day. It was the twelfth state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. Marriages began on 2013-JUL-01, More details.


star2013-JUN: CA: A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on JUN-26 legalized SSMs once more in California. It was the thirteenth state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. More details.


star2013-JUL-17: England and Wales: A bill to legalize same-sex marriage, which had been passed by the House of Lords and the House of Commons, received royal assent and became law. The first marriages were expected to occur in mid-2014. However, the date was later moved to 2014-MAR-29. More details.


star2013-OCT-21: NJ. The New Jersey Superior Court implemented SSMs. It was the fourteenth state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. More details.

bullet 2013-OCT-16: OH. The Ohio government starts to recognize legally solemnized out-of-state same-sex marriages. More details.

bullet star2013-NOV-20: IL: The Governor of Illinois signed a SSM bill into law. It was the fifteenth state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. Marriages will begin in 2014-JUN. More details.


star2013-DEC-02: HI. SSMs began in the Aloha State. It was the sixteenth state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. More details.


star2013-DEC-19: NM: The New Mexico Supreme Court implemented SSM. It was the seventeenth state in the U.S. to extend marriage to same-sex couples. More details.

bullet star 2013-DEC-20: UT: With about 2 in 3 of Utah adults being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the main Mormon denomination -- Utah is arguably the most anti-SSM state in the U.S. Judge Robert J. Shelby of the U.S. District Court for Utah declared a 2004 amendment to the state Constitution -- that restricted marriage only between one woman and one man -- to be unconstitutional because it conflicted with the equal protection clauses in Amendment 14 of the U.S. Constitution. Utah became the 18th state to legalize SSM, at least for a while. Large numbers of loving, committed same-sex couples descended by the hundreds on county offices, obtained marriage licenses and married. The state has appealed the decision to the tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On 2014-JAN-06, after four unsuccessful attempts to obtain a stay to halt the marriages, the U.S. Supreme Court finally granted one. Now there are about 1,300 married same-sex couples in Utah who can show you their marriage licenses, but who don't have the foggiest idea whether they are worth the paper it is printed on. More details.

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bullet star 2014-JAN: OK: A federal District Court ruled that same-sex marriages are legal in the state. The ruling was stayed, pending an appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. More details.

bullet 2013-FEB-08: USA: Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, Jr. delivered a speech at the Greater New York Gala of the Human Rights Campaign -- a LGBT positive organization. He announced that on FEB-10, the federal Justice Department will give lawful same-sex marriages equal protection under the law in every program that it administers. This includes lawsuits in federal courts, prison visites by married same-sex spouses, financial compensation to surviving spouses of public safety offices, etc. These apply even if the state where the same-sex couple lives does not recognize their marriages. Holder said:

"This means that, in every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States — they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

"This landmark announcement will change the lives of countless committed gay and lesbian couples for the better. While the immediate effect of these policy decisions is that all married gay couples will be treated equally under the law, the long-term effects are more profound. Today, our nation moves closer toward its ideals of equality and fairness for all."

The National Organization for Marriage -- a group dedicated to the prohibition of same-sex marriage across the U.S. joined with other conservative social and religious groups to express outrage at Justice Department's 's decision. More details.

bullet star2013-FEB-13: VA: A federal District Court judge legalized SSM and placed a stay pending appeal of the course to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision was primarily based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. More details.

bullet star2013-FEB-13: TX: A federal District Court judge legalized SSM and placed a stay pending appeal of the course to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision was also primarily based on the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. More details

bullet star2014-FEB-27: KY: U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn issues a ruling legalizing recognition of out-of-state marriages by same-sex couples. A short stay is imposed to allow the Attorney General to decide whether to appeal the ruling. More details

To see the current status of marriage equality and LGBT rights along with subsequent monthly developments, please see the list of month-by-month reports.

As of late 2014, close attention is on the U.S. Supreme Court. They are considering whether to accept one or more appeals from U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals on marriage for same-sex couples. During 2014-SEP, a group of five conservative Christian denominations asked the Court to resolve the question. A similar request came from Attorney Generals in 17 states. A ruling was issuedby the High Court during 2015-JUN that harmonized access to same-sex marriage across the country.

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Worldwide status of SSMs as of 2013-APR:

World map showing countries where SSM is legal 1

Not shown in this map is that during 2013-JUL, a law to legalize SSM in England and Wales received Royal Assent. The Scottish Government also legalized SSM in 2014-FEB. That leaves the United States, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Australia as the only large English-speaking countries that have not achieved full marriage equality. There is considerable effort in all of these countries to make marriage available to same-sex couples.

Apology: In the above graphic, at least one browser program deletes the outline of countries that do not provide SSM from the above image. Sorry about that. Most browsers do show the outlines.

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Related essay:

Current status of SSM in the U.S., Canada, Europe, etc. Includes map of the U.S.

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Reference used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Argentine Senate backs bill legalizing gay marriage," BBC News, 2010-JUL-15, at:

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Copyright © 2009 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2014-MAR-03

Author: B.A. Robinson
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