We’ve Come a Long Way: Marriage Equality in less than a year


The landscape for marriage equality is changing fast. In less than a year, we’ve gone from 12 states with full marriage equality to 19. Additionally, there are 10 more states with their full or partial marriage equality bans facing appeal. Click the maps above or below for full view of the 2013-2014 changes.

1) Arkansas: On May 9, 2014, Judge Chris Piazza of Arkansas upheld same-sex couples' freedom to marry by striking down the state’s discriminatory constitutional amendment in a case filed in state court on behalf of more than 20 same-sex couples.

"It has been over 40 years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice," Piazza wrote, referencing the landmark 1967 Supreme Court ruling overturning all bans on interracial marriage. "The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it."

Piazza did not issue a stay in his ruling – and same-sex couples married in the state for the next week. On Friday, May 16, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay as the state's appeal proceeds.

MEMJune2013.jpg2) Oregon: Declaring the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, a federal judge struck down Oregon's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment on May 19.

In a unique scenario, there was no defense in this case after state officials refused to defend the ban in February. National Organization of Marriage (NOM) tried to step up on behalf of its Oregon members but in early May, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane denied NOM the standing to defend the case. The filed an appeal but before McShane's ruling on May 19, the Ninth U.S. District Court of Appeals denied NOM's motion appealing that ruling.

Without a stay, McShane's ruling went into effect immediately.

3) Alaska: Despite a current case in the Alaskan Supreme Court, whereas the court is being asked to decide whether a same-sex partner is entitled to survivor benefits, five same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage on May 12.

4) Georgia: On April 22, 2014, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry in Georgia and respect for out-of state marriages. The case’s plaintiffs include three couples who wish to marry in Georgia and a widow arguing that Georgia state officials denied respect for her marriage for the purpose of being listed on the partner’s death certificate.

2014MEM.jpg5) Idaho: On May 13, 2014, a federal district court in Boise issued a decision striking down Idaho’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples and ordering the state to allow same-sex couples to marry in Idaho and to recognize the marriages of couples who married in other states. The court’s order was to take effect at 9:00 a.m. Mountain time on May 16.

Two days later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted a temporary stay of the federal judge's ruling that ordered marriage equality in Idaho.

6) Pennsylvania: A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage on May 20, thus making it the latest state in a string of May marriage equality victories. Judge John Jones declared the ban unconstitutional and said such laws should tossed “into the ash heap of history.”

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced in July of 2013 that she would not defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. After hiring outside counsel to defend the ban, Governor Tom Corbett declined to appeal the ruling on May 21.