Same-Sex Marriage F.A.Q.


Where is it legal for same-sex couples to marry?

Same-sex couples can legally marry in Connecticut, Delaware (7/1/13), Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (8/1/13), New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island (as of 8/1/13), Vermont, Washington State and Washington DC. For more information, try Freedom to Marry.

Couples joined in civil union have all the rights and responsibilities of married people within and as defined by the states. Civil unions are presently available in Colorado, Illinois, New Hampshire, Hawaii and New Jersey.

Same-sex couples can also get married in Canada. There is no residency requirement to marry, but there is a one-year residency requirement to get divorced. Same-sex couples can now also marry in Argentina, Mexico City, and Uruguay. Visit Freedom to Marry for more information on same-sex marriage in other countries.

The Federal government does not recognize any same-sex marriages or civil unions, so federal marriage rights and responsibilities like Social Security, federal tax breaks, and immigration rights are not accessible. States are not required to recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions performed in other states, and most don’t, but some do (e.g., New York and Rhode Island).

Is domestic partnership like marriage?

Domestic partnerships have different rights and responsibilities accorded to them in different states. California and Washington register domestic partnerships for same-sex couples, and also for different-sex couples where one person is 62 or older.  Oregon registers same-sex partnerships.  Nevada registers couples regardless of sex or age.  In these states, partners are treated the same as spouses under state law.

Maine and the District of Columbia register domestic partnerships for couples regardless of sex or age, according them limited rights and responsibilities. In Hawaii and Colorado, couples can register as beneficiaries, again with limited rights.  Click here to learn more about domestic partnership registries and benefits.

Can gay and lesbian couples form common law marriages?

No, those few states that recognize common law marriage only recognize them between different-sex partners who are eligible to marry.

My partner and I really want to get married! What can we do?

  • In Connecticut, Delaware (7/1/13), Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (8/1/13), New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island (as of 8/1/13), Vermont, Washington State, Washington DC, Canada and Mexico City, you can get married.
  • You can get a civil union or register a domestic partnership.
  • Have a commitment ceremony or wedding (possibly even a religious one, if you want to be married “in the eyes of God”), even though you won’t be legally married. Read more about this in the Commitment Ceremonies section.
  • Refer to each other as “my husband,” “my wife,” or “my spouse,” if you wish.
  • Exchange rings and wear them on your wedding ring fingers, if you wish.
  • Become a freedom to marry activist! See the GLBT Books & Links page for groups to contact.

I’m in a great same-sex relationship but I don’t want to get married. What do you have for me?

A lot of LGBT people say that within the LGBT community, there’s so much emphasis on winning the freedom to marry right now that it can feel isolating to be a member of the community who’s not personally interested in getting married. Thousands of people have signed onto Beyond Marriage, a statement that challenges the current strategies employed by LGBT organizations that are pursuing marriage equality. UE’s founders and Executive Director were pleased to be among the original signatories.

*You might be interested in our position statement on same-sex marriage, and in the resources in our Marriagefree section.