Marriage Redefined in 19 States + District of Columbia

Appeals on Rulings Pending in 14 More States

Marriage as the civil institution that unites children with their moms and dads has been eliminated in 19 states with appeals to court decisions to eliminate it pending in 8 additional states. That totals 27 states, more than half of all of the states. Additionally, legal challenges to marriage have been filed in all reminaing states.

Since the Supreme Court of the United States action to strike down the federal definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (More background) marriage has come under attack in federal district courts across the country. Twelve decisions have been rendered to overturn marriage, with eight stayed pending appeal.

Here is a summary:


California: The California State Constitution, which protects the definition of marriage (Prop 8- "only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California,") has never been invalidated by an appellate court as required by law to be overturn. Even though it is still in force, it been ignored by government officials since the Supreme Court declined to rule on the provision. In conflict with the constitution, marriage was redefined by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on July 7, 2014. 


New Hampshire- Redefined marraige by legislation that was signed into law in 2009.

Vermont- The State Senate approved a bill redefining marriage on March 23, 2009 and Governor Jim Douglas threatened to veto it. On April 3, the State House passed an amended version of the bill 95–52, several votes shy of a veto-proof two-thirds majority.  On April 6, 2009, the Senate approved the amendments made by the House and the governor vetoed the legislation as promised.  On April 7, 2009, the Senate overrode the veto by a 23–5 vote and the House overrode it 100–49.

New York-  A bill redefining marriage was was passed by the New York State Legislature on June 24, 2011 and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on the same day.

Hawaii - During a special session of the Hawaii State Legislature beginning October 28, 2013 a bill redefining marriage was passed. Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Hawaii Senate Bill 1 into law on November 13, and it took effect on December 2, 2013.

Rhode Island- On April 24, 2013 the Rhode Island Senate passed an amended version of a bill redefining marriage by a 26-12 vote.  On April 30, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the legislation. The House passed the legislation on May 2 on a vote of 56 to 15, and Goveror Chafee signed it the same day.

Delaware- A bill redefining marriage was signed into law by Governor Jack Markell hours after it passed the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate on July 1, 2013.

Minnesota- After 52.6% of state voters rejected a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in November 2012, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill to redefine it in May 2013, which Governor Mark Dayton signed on May 14, 2013. It took effect on August 1, 2013.

Illinois - Marriage was redefined by means of a law signed on November 20, 2013 by Governor Pat Quinn and took effect on June 1, 2014.

District of Columbia- Marriage was redefined by the city council of the District of Columbia on December 18, 2009.


Maryland- After much debate, a law redefining marriage was passed by the General Assembly (Maryland's bicameral legislature, composed of the Senate and House of Delegates) in February 2012 and signed on March 1, 2012 by Governor Marting O'Malley. The law was challenged by a voter inititiative to bring the law to a public  referendum. More than twice the number of signature needed to qualify the referendum were submitted. The ballot language hid the fact that marriage was being redefined to eliminate the only civil institution that unites children with theirm moms and dads, and stated the law's purpose was merely to permit marriage licenses for same-sex couples. The unwitting voters approved the redefinition on November 6, 2012, by 51.9% of the vote.

Washington- The Washington legislature passed and Governor Christine Gregoire signed a bill to redefine marriage February 13, 2012. The bill was prevented from taking effect when enough signatures were submitted in June to require the law be approved by the voters in a referendum. Supporters for redefining marriage successfully challenged the ballot language requiring language that state marriage was being redefined be stricken because it would have prejudiced the outcome. The law was validated by 51.8% of the vote on November 6, 2012.

Maine- On November 6, 2012, Maine voters repealled Question One that defined marriage between a man and a woman in the state constitution in 2009. The ballot language did not allude to marraige being redefined by merely asked the question, “Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples?” The measure passed with 52.7% of the vote.


Since DOMA Supreme Court Decision in Red


Massachusetts-Massachusetts becamse the first state to redefine marriage on May 17, 2004, through a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case.

Connecticut-  Connecticut supreme court redefined marriage on November 12, 2008, through a decision that found the state's civil unions law failed to provide same-sex couples with rights and privileges equivalent to those of marriage.

Iowa- The Iowa Supreme Court redefined marriage in a decision on April 3, 2009. It took effect on April 27.

New Jersey- Marriage was redefined by New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling in October 2013. As same-sex couples begain marrying, Governor Christie withdrew further challenges to the redefinition of marriage in New Jersey.


Kansas-  Marriage redefined by a judge in Federal district court on November 4, 2013. 

New Mexico- The redefinition of marriage became legal statewide through a ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court on December 19, 2013. Despite the ruling, some of New Mexico's Native American tribes (most notably the Navajo Nation) continue to uphold the reality that marriage unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union and do not recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Pennsylvania-The redefinition of marriage became legal on May 20, 2014, when a U.S. federal district court judge ruled that the states' 1996 marriage protection amendment was unconstitutional.

Oregon Oregon's constitutional definition of marriage between one man and one woman was challenged in Federal District Court. The challenge was not defended by the state that the judge did not permit anyone else to intervene on behalf of the voters and the state. On May 19, 2014 the Federal Judge ruled state’s constitutional definition of marriage violated equal protection clause. 

Supreme Court Action Likely

Marriage Upheld

Kentucky- US 6th Circuit reversed lower court decision to redefine marriage. Next step US Supreme Court 

Michigan- US 6th Circuit reversed lower court decision to redefine marriage. Next step US Supreme Court 

Ohio-US 6th Circuit reversed lower court decision to redefine marriage. Next step US Supreme Court

Tennessee- US 6th Circuit reversed lower court decision to redefine marriage. Next step US Supreme Court

Marriage Redefined

Virginia- US 4th Ciruit Appeals 2-1 upheld redefinition of marriage 7/28/2014. Next step pending.

Federal Court Rulings Redefining Marriage Pending Appeal

Arkansas-State Supreme Court

Colorado-Federal Court Appeal pending

Florida-State Appellate Court

Idaho- US 9th Circuit Appeals

Indiana- US 7th Circuit Appeals (Oral arguments 8/26/2014)

Oklahoma-US 10th Circuit Appeals

Texas-US 5th Circuit Appeals

Utah- US 10th Circuit Appeals



Wisconsin- US 7th Circuit Appeals (Oral arguments 8/26/2014)

Additional Cases Pending (70)
Challenges Filed in All Remaining States

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