In November 2003, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. Over the next decade, more states followed suit. By 2013, same-sex marriage was legal in a dozen U.S. states and in the District of Columbia.
This represented a massive cultural shift—and triggered a significant backlash. For each state that legalized same-sex marriage, nearly three banned the practice outright. These states—of which there were 37 in all—also refused to recognize same-sex marriages legally conducted elsewhere. To justify this position, they cited the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In addition to defining marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman,” DOMA relieved states of any obligation to honor same-sex marriages conducted in other states.
Originally published in the September 2019 edition of the LGBT Bar Association.
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