Same-Sex Marriage Laws in the USA

Same-Sex Marriage Laws in the USA

This article on ‘Same-Sex Marriage Laws in the USA‘ was written by Ayush Choudhary, an intern at Legal Upanishad.


In the modern era, with the rapidly growing idea of Liberalisation, people have also started respecting the Liberty and freedom of other people. This liberty is also growing in the case of sexual orientations of the people also and in continuance of this the concept of same-sex marriage is also growing. As a consequence, there has been the development of same-sex laws also.

Same-sex marriage laws in the United States have been a topic of intense discussion and debate for several decades. The topic has gained significant attention as people have been fighting for their rights and equality. In recent years, the acceptance of same-sex marriages has grown tremendously, and laws have evolved to reflect the changing attitudes towards them. This article will discuss the history, current status, and future of same-sex marriage laws in the USA.

A brief history of same-sex marriage laws in the USA

The fight for marriage equality for same-sex couples in the USA began in the 1970s, and it was not until 1993 that Hawaii recognized same-sex marriages. However, this decision was later overturned when the Hawaiian Supreme Court ruled in favour of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This ruling set the tone for the country, and it became increasingly challenging for same-sex couples to get married.

In 2000, Vermont became the first US state to pass a law allowing civil unions, which provided same-sex couples with some legal rights but did not recognize them as married couples. Other states passed similar laws, such as Connecticut, New Jersey, and California. However, these unions were still seen as a separate status from marriage, which meant that same-sex couples were still not recognized as fully equal to opposite-sex couples.

The biggest move towards same-sex marriage laws occurred in 2003 when the Supreme Court delivered a groundbreaking decision in Lawrence v. Texas. The decision deemed sodomy laws unconstitutional, which had previously criminalized sex between individuals of the same gender. This change was a massive victory for the LGBTQ+ community and signalled that the tide was turning towards progress.

In 2004, same-sex marriage was briefly legal in Massachusetts, but it was not until 2015 that the Supreme Court finally granted marriage equality to same-sex couples in Obergefell v. Hodges. The decision declared that same-sex couples had the constitutional right to marry and that all states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. This ruling brought the LGBTQ+ community’s fight for equality and recognition to a significant milestone, and it was celebrated across the country and around the world.

Current status of same-sex marriage laws in the USA:

As of 2021, same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 US states, and same-sex couples receive the same rights, protections and benefits as opposite-sex couples. However, there are still some challenges and obstacles that same-sex couples face, particularly in states where the culture and attitudes towards same-sex marriages are not fully accepted.

Several states have passed laws that allow businesses and individuals to refuse services to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs, a move that has been criticized by LGBTQ+ rights groups. The US Supreme Court has also issued several rulings in recent years that have created some uncertainty about the future status of same-sex marriage laws. For example, in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, the Supreme Court ruled that a Denver bakery owner could refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding because of his religious beliefs.

In another case, Fulton v. the City of Philadelphia, the Supreme Court found unanimously that the city of Philadelphia violated the First Amendment when it stopped allowing a Catholic social services agency to participate in the city’s foster care system because it would not allow same-sex couples to foster children. While the ruling was a victory for religious groups that opposed same-sex marriage, it did not overturn the Obergefell decision, which made same-sex marriages legal across the country.

Same-Sex Marriage Laws in the USA
Same-Sex Marriage Laws in the USA

Future of same-sex marriage laws in the USA:

The fight for LGBTQ+ equality and recognition is an ongoing journey, and it is expected that same-sex marriage laws will continue to evolve in the coming years. Some states may continue to resist same-sex marriages, while others may seek to expand the rights and protections for same-sex couples. One issue that is expected to become more prominent in discussions about same-sex marriage laws is the inclusion of non-binary, intersex, and transgender individuals. While same-sex marriages are legal, there is still confusion and uncertainty about how these laws apply to non-binary individuals. As gender identity and expression become more accepted, it is anticipated that this issue will become a key focus in the ongoing debate about same-sex marriage laws.


Though in the USA, same-sex marriage has been given recognition in many states, there are still many lacunae and flaws in the present laws. And it is also not clear whether non-binary people are a part of same-sex marriage or not. Therefore, lawmakers need to make laws in a way that can accumulate people of all genders and thus also can remove all uncertainty and confusion about the scope of these laws.  


Same-sex marriage laws have come a long way in the USA over the past several decades. The fight for equality and recognition for same-sex couples has been long and challenging, but it has resulted in significant progress towards achieving equal rights and protections. The legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states was a massive victory for the LGBTQ+ community, and it has set the stage for continued progress towards full equality.

While there are still obstacles that need to be overcome, the future of same-sex marriage laws in the USA looks bright. As society continues to evolve and become more accepting of different identities and expressions, there is hope that same-sex marriages will become more widely accepted and recognized across the country. The journey towards full equality is an ongoing one, but every step taken towards progress is a significant victory for the LGBTQ+ community.