Factbox: List of states that legalized gay marriage
(Reuters) - Twelve of the 50 U.S. states plus Washington, D.C., have legalized gay marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court was expected on Wednesday to issue rulings in two major cases relating to gay marriage.
The first three states to allow gay marriage did so because of court rulings permitting it, rather than through legislative action or putting the issue to voters to decide. Since mid-2009, six states have approved gay marriage laws by passing laws in state legislatures and three states by ballot initiatives.
In California, same-sex marriage was legal briefly in 2008 following a court ruling permitting it. Later that year, voters approved Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage. The legal challenge to Proposition 8 went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here is a look at the states that have approved gay marriage.
* MASSACHUSETTS - In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to allow gay marriage after its highest court ruled the state's ban violated the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.
* CONNECTICUT - In 2008, the state Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling and found that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry. Soon after, the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
* IOWA - A unanimous ruling by the state Supreme Court in 2009 legalized same-sex marriage. The next year, a recall campaign by opponents of same-sex marriage forced three judges from the bench. A 2012 effort to oust a fourth judge was unsuccessful.
LEGISLATIVE ACTION Continued...