FACTBOX: U.S. laws on gay marriage, civil unions

Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:01pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - The following is a look at laws on gay marriage and same-sex civil unions in the United States.

* The first legal same-sex marriages in the United States took place in Massachusetts in 2004, a year after the state's highest court ruled that a ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

* California's Supreme Court backed a ban on gay marriage on May 26, upholding a voter-approved proposition defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but said the marriages last year of 18,000 same-sex couples were still legal.

* Connecticut legalized gay marriage in October 2008, when its Supreme Court overturned a ban on same-sex marriage. Local authorities began issuing marriage licenses in November.

* Iowa's supreme court issued a unanimous ruling on April 3 that said a gay marriage ban violated the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples. The state's first legal same-sex weddings took place later that month.

* On April 7, Vermont lawmakers overrode a governor's veto of a gay-marriage bill, making the New England state the first in the country to legalize gay marriage with a legislative vote. Its law takes effect on September 1.

* The District of Columbia city council voted on May 5 to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where those unions are legal, although gay marriages cannot be conducted in the city itself.

* Maine's governor signed a bill on May 6 that cleared the way for the legalization of gay marriage. The law is due to take effect in September, but it could be delayed or even voided if opponents gather enough support for a statewide referendum on gay marriage.

* The New York State Assembly passed a bill on May 12 to legalize gay marriage, but it faces an uncertain future in the state Senate, where a leadership struggle has deadlocked the body.   Continued...