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Gay Marriage Facts

Facts About Gay Marriage from Around the World


New York Gay Marriage at Gay Pride 2011
© Mario Tama/Getty Images
Updated July 18, 2013
The laws about same-sex marriage are changing all the time. Here are the latest facts about gay marriage in the United States and around the world.

United States:

Same-Sex marriage is legal in nine states plus the District of Columbia:

Recognition in Other States

Unlike opposite sex marriages, same-sex marriages may or may not be recognized in other states. All of the states with same-sex marriage laws recognize marriages from other states.

This means, for example, if you live in Oregon and travel to Washington state to get married, your marriage will not be valid in Oregon.

Same-Sex Divorce

Another complication of same-sex marriage is that couples cannot file for divorce in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. Usually you have to live in the state you file for divorce in. For example, if you live in Florida and travel to Massachusetts to get married and decide later that you want a divorce, the state of Florida will not issue you a divorce because they do not recognize your marriage as valid. In order to divorce, you might have to move to a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.

Rights of Marriage

According to Lambda Legal, there are more than 1,400 rights that go along with being legally married. Those rights include the right visit your spouse in the hospital, the right to file joint tax returns and the right to inherit money without paying federal inheritance taxes.

The United States Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court heard two cases about same-sex marriage and released their decisions in June 2013. In the first case, Windsor v. United States, the court ruled that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive the same federal benefits as opposite sex married couples.

The other case, upheld a lower court ruling, declaring Prop 8 in California unconstitutional, clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California.

President Obama and Gay Marriage

President Obama announced in May 2012 that he supports full marriage equality for gays and lesbians. He was the first president to support gay marriage.

During his inauguration speech in January 2013 President Obama furthered his support for gay marriage by being the first president to mention gays and lesbians in his inauguration speech. He said, "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

Gay Marriage in Other Countries

Gay marriage is recognized in the following countries: Argentina, Belgium,Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Uruguay and parts of Mexico.

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