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Same-Sex Marriage: An Abridged Timeline of a Long-Fought Struggle

Same-sex couples have fought a long battle for the right to marry since the Stonewall riots kicked off the gay rights movement over 40 years ago, and with the U.S. Supreme Court’s expected June federal ruling, the fight may soon be over.

Law Week Colorado offered a retrospective timeline of same-sex marriage in the courts, of which we summarize pertinent parts:

October 10, 1972 ”“ the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Baker v. Nelson, where a couple appealed a Minnesota Supreme Court decision that same-sex marriage was illegal and banning it did not violate the U.S. Constitution.

  • November 9, 1973 ”“ The Kentucky Court of Appeals rules against a same-sex couple seeking to be married.
  • May 20, 1974 ”“ The Washington Supreme Court denies to review the case of Singer v. Hara, one of the United States’ first marriage equality lawsuits.
  • December 9, 1999 ”“ The Hawaii Supreme Court dismisses Baehr v. Miike, wherein three same-sex couples challenged Hawaii’s prohibition of same-sex marriage. A 1998 voter-approved amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman led to the dismissal.
  • November 18, 2003 ”“ Same-sex marriage advocates are victorious for the first time as the Massachusetts Supreme Court approves same-sex marriage.
  • May 15, 2008 ”“ California rules the state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The controversial Proposition 8 is approved for ballot later that year.
  • October 10, 2008 ”“ Connecticut approves same-sex marriage.
  • April 3, 2009 ”“ Iowa courts unanimously approve gay marriage.
  • May 26, 2009 ”“ Prop. 8 eliminates gay marriage in California, creating a strange legal limbo for same-sex couples who married during the period it was legal.
  • July 8, 2010 ”“ Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, is ruled unconstitutional.
  • August 4, 2010 ”“ The U.S. District Court of Northern Carolina rules Prop. 8 unconstitutional.
  • June 26, 2013 ”“ A sweeping landmark ruling in the case of Windsor v. United States strikes down DOMA’s Section 3 for good, granting federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
  • January-June 2014 ”“ Federal courts in 11 states rule same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. The building traction for same-sex marriage makes it evident that the only way to settle the issue is a federal ruling.
  • January 16, 2015 ”“ The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments in cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, four states where same-sex marriage bans were upheld after post-DOMA appeals.

If ever there was a time to celebrate love and commitment for all families, the time is now approaching. Over 70 percent of Americans now live in states where gay marriage is legal, and the forthcoming Supreme Court decision may nationalize the legality of same-sex marriage throughout the country.

Divorce Matters ”“ Denver Family Lawyers

Did You Know? As of January 1, 2015, 17 countries have legalized same-sex marriage, and the Supreme Court is expected to decide the issue for the US in June.