The States and Countries Where Gay Marriage is Now Legal



In the following map, you can see the states where gay marriage is legal, or soon will be (it goes into effect in Rhode Island and Minnesota on August 1).  Those are the purple states.  The pink states have something else, either civil unions or statewide domestic partner benefits.  The states that are white offer no protections or benefits to same-sex couples.

 

This next map shows you where in the world it's legal for a same-sex marriage (the blue countries). 

Finally, this last map shows you where in the U.S. same-sex couples can be legally discriminated against...these white states are places you can be fired for being LGBT or denied services (including wedding services) for being LGBT.

 

The Wedding Industry Impact

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a ruling overturning the federal portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a discriminatory federal law which prevents same-sex marriage from being recognized by both the federal government and individual states where it’s not legal. They also declined to rule on a case challenging Proposition 8, the discriminatory ballot initiative which banned same-sex marriage in California after 18,000 couples legally married. What does this mean?

Let’s start with Proposition 8. Because SCOTUS declined to issue a judgment, that means the previous ruling by the Court of Appeals goes into effect and same-sex marriage will return to California. Soon (date TBD, but in about a month) once again, same-sex couples can legally marry in California. Equality will be restored and the gay weddings can resume! Amazing. 

The other good news is that SCOTUS overturned the federal portion of DOMA. This does not mean that gay marriage is legal nationally. What it does mean is that same-sex marriage will be recognized by the federal government, giving same-sex couples who live in states where it's legal the 1100+ rights that married straight couples get, rights such as social security benefits, Family Medical Leave Act, tax benefits, and many more. 

Keep in mind that the state portion of DOMA was not challenged. This means that a same-sex couple from Texas who marry in New York will still not be seen as legally married by the state of Texas.  And each individual federal agency has their own standard of issuing benefits - some look at the Place of Residence (in  which case Texans, for example, would not get those benefits); and others look at Place of Celebration (in which case those Texans would).

There will surely be more gay weddings in California. And there will be more gay weddings in the states where it’s legal, states such as New York, Maryland and Washington. More same-sex couples from states where it’s not legal will travel to make it legal, just for those federal benefits (because some will apply). Some will bring a big group of family and friends and have their reception in the legal state, and some will simply elope and have their party at home. The wedding industry is going to benefit either way. 

 Because of the couples traveling to make it legal and spending their wedding dollars outside of their home state, there will be increased pressure on the states where it’s not legal to play catch up. After all, they are losing money. All of the studies of the economic impact of same-sex marriage, couple with these losses, will mean that states will start to legalize same-sex marriage at an exponential rate. 

Now, with all that said, get your business ready for gay weddings!  Our next webinar series starts next week and there are a few speaking engagements also coming up!  Drop a note if you're interested in bringing us in for a speech or workshop.

Election Results are Good News for Gay Weddings

What a historic night for marriage equality.  Not only did voters pass marriage equality laws in two states:  Maryland and Maine (and probably Washington, too) - but it was the first time marriage equality was ever approved by voters.  That law will go into effect for January 1, 2013 in Maryland and this December 6 in Maine!

That's two months to get your business ready!  Stay tuned for special crash course dates for Gay Wedding Institute certification.

Our Love is Just Like Everyone Elses

There was a contest in Chicago recently giving away a free wedding to a deserving couple.  A same-sex couple participated and won.  This quote in the video below from that couple really moved me - even though I hear this type of quote all the time:  "We are the only same-sex couple a lot of our friends and family know so if they were to see us in a wedding scenario, it would just prove to them that our love is just like everyone else's."

That's what same-sex couples are looking for...keep in mind that most of the guests at their wedding will be straight...I urge you to urge them (the couple) to make the ceremony as impactful as possible so that those guests have tears in their eyes, love in their hearts and support of marriage equality on their minds.

One of the ways that can happen is if your clients hire a Celebrant to officiate their marriage ceremony, or someone else who can write a very powerful and meaningful ceremony script...

Gay Wedding Tips if You're New to this Site

This site is intended to be a resource for wedding professionals and media who are interested in learning more about same-sex weddings.  That said, since I actually PLAN lots of gay weddings, I don't have as much time to keep this updated as I'd like!  Here are some resources to get you started:

  • The Gay Wedding Glossary - the only one in the world, with loads of terminology and information on laws and so forth
  • Data - We collect our own gay wedding data, but there's also some from the Williams Institute, Forbes and others
  • Our App - it's a free download for iPhones and iPads and is a great tool for wedding planning
  • Webinars - I teach quarterly webinars which cover everything you need to know about gay weddings (and more!)
Additionally, here are some of the most popular blog posts from the past 3 years of blogging about gay weddings for wedding vendors:

Question: Should I Start Marketing Now Even though Gay Marriage is Not Legal in my State?

Question:  How can vendors expect the wedding market to change and be prepared for it as more states legalize gay marriage? What is the wedding market like in areas where gay marriage isn't legal? Should vendors be marketing to gay couples even if they live in areas where gay marriage isn't legal or there isn't a high population of gay people? 

Answer:  First of all, vendors should be aware that it's going to change and that they need to be prepared and get ready now! They don't want to be behind when the tide turns in their state. It's much better to be pre-emptive than to have to play catchup!  Our certification course is a great primer to prepare your business for gay weddings. 

Same-sex couples who live in states where same-sex marriage is not legal frequently travel to states where it is (like Massachusetts and New York) and have a legal ceremony, then have a big party back home. Those big parties can sometimes have big budgets and be very much like a wedding, so there is absolutely no harm in marketing now.

Do you  have any burning questions for me?  Ask them here and I'll answer in an upcoming post!

Protecting Your Gay Wedding Client's Privacy

I've been planning same-sex weddings since 2004 but I don't have very many photos of those earlier weddings.  Why?   Many of my clients back then wouldn't allow me to use their photos because of privacy concerns.  They were not entirely out of the closet and were afraid of being fired or discriminated against.  Yes, even in a state where it was legal to have a same-sex marriage.

That doesn't happen as much anymore but my biggest client of the year struck the image release clause from my contract.  Such a bummer because they are gorgeous guys and it will be a stunning wedding!

I say all this because of a great post over at A Practical Wedding from a photographer who can't show you her client's engagement shoot.  You have to read that post!

How do you respond when a client expresses fear of being fired or outed if you include their wedding photos on your blog or in your portfolio? You have to go along with it.  It's their right to privacy.  Listen.  Sympathize.  And respect their right - so don't use those images...

Have you ever had a same-sex client say this to you?

Why Does Henry Have to Move Back to Venezuela?

Henry Velandia legally married his partner Josh Vandiver in Connecticut.  Josh is a U.S. citizen but Henry is from Venezuela.  And now Henry is facing deportation by the U.S. government.

If Henry was a woman who married Josh, then a green card would be in order.

But Henry's a guy and the U.S. government has DOMA, a law prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriage, so off he will go back to Venezuela.  

Could you imagine if Henry and Josh were your clients?  If they were, you should advise them not to marry.  It is actually dangerous for them to marry because of DOMA.

Off my 200+ gay weddings, I personally have never had a client in this situation - have you?  What did you do?

What Does the Ruling Against Prop 8 Mean for Your Wedding Business?

Proposition 8 was the ballot initiative in California in which voters voted to ban same-sex marriage, 5.5 months after it first began in the state in 2008.  18,000 same-sex couples were married in those 5.5 months.  There's been a highly publicized challenge to this voter referendum and that challenge was ruled on today, overturning the vote.

What does the California's judge's ruling against Proposition 8 mean for your wedding business?

Right now, it doesn't mean anything.  To be honest, while this is a big victory, this ruling will be appealed and the case is very likely to end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.  A year or two before there's any final decision and even then, marriage equality victory is not guaranteed. This CNN article explains the next steps for Proposition 8.

I'm just being realistic.  In the meantime, there are lots of things you can do to prepare your business:

  • start volunteering for Equality California or whichever marriage equality organization exists in your state
  • neutralize the language on your website, marketing materials and contract materials
  • identify images and graphics which are less obviously bride-and-groom for your marketing materials
  • familiarize yourself with some gay wedding traditions
  • attend one of my upcoming workshops
Whether or not you live in California, these are just a few important steps that will help you get ready for what will be an eventual tidal wave of same-sex weddings.

What DOMA Being Struck Down Means for Wedding Vendors

Today, a district court judge ruled that part 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.  You can learn more more about the Defense of Marriage Act by following that link, but essentially, it means that my gay marriage in Massachusetts is meaningless most everywhere else including at the federal level and in most states.  Currently this ruling only affects Massachusetts residents.

The law explicitly includes a piece that U.S. states that don't allow gay marriage don't have to recognize gay marriages performed in U.S. states that do.

If this ruling stands, it is significant for a number of reasons and may impact your wedding business:
  • Similar lawsuits will follow, opening the door to federal recognition by couples who live in Connecticut, Vermont, and the other places gay marriage is legal.
  • You'll see more large receptions in your state hosted by couples who marry where it's legal and return home - the number of couples traveling to legally marry will jump dramatically because it will actually mean something (benefits) on the federal level!
  • This should open the door for more states to legalize gay marriage as they see money lost to states where it is.
  • Other parts of DOMA that impact the 45 states where gay marriage is illegal are also being challenged.  These states may be forced to recognize gay marriages performed in states where it is.  This means more weddings!
  • This ruling will mean more wedding sales for all of us - an annual increase of $9.5 billion when gay marriage is legalized nationally (according to Forbes)
Gay marriage is obviously a hot button political issue, with only half the country in support.  But it's also an economic issue.  My home state has seen more than $120 million pumped into its economy from gay marriage in the past six years. Today's court ruling is the first step in that process.  Gay weddings are good for business - and they are good for society.

Is your company ready to reach this emerging and lucrative wedding market?  Or does your marketing plan need a tune-up so you don't unwittingly alienate these couples? Where do you stand and what are you going to do about it?  I can help.