Questions and answers about same-sex marriage

  • Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 5:24 p.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, May 18, 2014 6:16 p.m.

BOSTON (AP) — The first legal same-sex weddings in the U.S. were held 10 years ago Saturday in Massachusetts. Since then, more than a dozen states and Washington, D.C., have followed suit, though opposition remains stiff in many other places. Some questions and answers about the issue:


Precise numbers are hard to come by because most states that allow same-sex marriages do not legally distinguish between them and heterosexual marriages. The Williams Institute, a national think tank, estimated in 2013 that more than 100,000 gay couples had married in the United States since 2004.


Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New Mexico, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Washington state and the District of Columbia. Judges in Utah, Arkansas and Idaho have struck down state bans, but officials are appealing. Judges have ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.


Argentina, Belgium, Britain, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay allow same-sex marriage nationwide. The United States and Mexico allow it in some regions.


Both sides generally agree that 10 years is not enough time to study any broad effects of same-sex marriage.

Opponents said children need a mother and a father, but the American Psychological Association said the majority of studies that have compared gay parents with heterosexual parents show that the children of same-sex couples are just as psychologically healthy as the children of heterosexual couples.

Supporters of gay marriage have claimed they’re a financial boon for participating states, but only limited studies have been done of economic effects. A study by the Williams Institute found that during the first five years of same-sex weddings in Massachusetts, the state economy saw a $111 million boost from spending on weddings and by guests at hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.


Lawsuits are pending in at least 30 states. Some current battleground states include Virginia, Utah and Pennsylvania.

In Utah, a voter-approved ban was overturned by a federal judge in December. Hundreds of couples rushed to marry before courts could intervene. A ruling is expected within months from a federal appeals court.

In Virginia, a federal judge in February struck down a state constitutional amendment barring gay marriage. A federal appeals panel heard arguments Tuesday, and a decision is expected within months.

In Pennsylvania, various aspects of a 1996 state law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage are being challenged by at least six different lawsuits in state and federal courts.

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