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We now face an unprecedented opportunity to achieve the freedom to marry for same-sex couples throughout the country.
Marriage has long been one way that couples express their love for one another and their commitment to their relationship. Despite arguments that so-called “same-sex marriage” seeks to redefine “traditional marriage,” allowing committed gay and lesbian couples to get married does not change the meaning of marriage. Gay and lesbian couples want to get married to make a lifetime commitment to the person they love and to protect their families.
In America, 17 states plus D.C. allow same-sex couples to marry. That means nearly 40 percent of the American population lives in a freedom-to-marry state.
These facts are heartening, but there is still a lot of work to do to improve laws that will protect all families. Since the first marriage lawsuit for same-sex couples in America in 1971, the ACLU has been at the forefront of both legal and public education efforts to secure marriage for same-sex couples and win legal recognition for LGBT relationships.
LGBT & AIDS Project Case Profiles - LGBT Relationships: A listing of all LGBT-related ACLU cases tackling various issues including the legal status of relationships.
National Campaign for Marriage: The ACLU has launched a robust campaign to advocate for fair marriage laws at the state and federal levels.
After DOMA: What It Means For You: These fact sheets detail many of the ways federal agencies accord legal respect to married same-sex couples.
My Big, Gay, (Il)legal Wedding: The ACLU is helping five same-sex couples have a Big, Gay, (Il)legal Wedding to highlight the unfair patchwork of state marriage laws and why it's so important for everyone to have the freedom to marry.
"Defend" Marriage by Respecting Marriages (2011 blog post): The federal Respect for Marriage Act would help address inequities in current federal law.
DOMA Repeal Vote Represents a Critical Shift: On Nov. 10 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines (10-8) in support of the Respect for Marriage Act legislation that would fully repeal the discriminatory and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). A critical shift has taken place in Congress in the 15 years since DOMA was signed into law. This shift is evident not only among congressional supporters of LGBT rights, but also among opponents. It is almost as if the wind has been taken out of their sails.
Windsor v. United States: Edie Windsor Challenges DOMA: On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that section three of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) is unconstitutional and that the federal government cannot discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections.