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List of US state constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions by type

There are several different types of state constitutional amendments banning legal recognition of same-sex unions in U.S. state constitutions, referred to by proponents as defense of marriage amendments.[1] The amendments define marriage as a union between one man and one woman and prevent civil unions or same-sex marriages from being legalized, though some of the amendments bar only the latter. As of December 2012, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, Maryland and Washington are the only U.S. states to allow same-sex marriage. The District of Columbia also allows same-sex marriages.

Thirty-one U.S. state constitutional amendments banning legal recognition of same-sex unions have been adopted. Of these, ten make only same-sex marriage unconstitutional, seventeen make both same-sex marriage and civil unions unconstitutional, two make same-sex marriage, civil unions, and other contracts unconstitutional, and one is unique. Hawaii's amendment is unique in that it does not make same-sex marriage unconstitutional; rather, it allows the state to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. Virginia's amendment prevents the state from recognizing private contracts that "approximate" marriage. Observers have pointed out that such language encompasses private contracts and medical directives.[2][3] Furthermore, the Michigan Supreme Court has held that the state's amendment bans not only same-sex marriage and civil unions, but also domestic partnership benefits such as health insurance.[4]California Proposition 8 was declared unconstitutional by Vaughn R. Walker, chief judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, on August 4, 2010, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, but his ruling was put on hold pending a request for a stay the same day.[5]Nebraska Initiative Measure 416 was declared unconstitutional by Joseph F. Bataillon, district judge on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, in November, 2005 in Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, but his ruling was reversed on appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which ruled that "laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples ... do not violate the Constitution of the United States."[6]

This list only covers bans of civil unions, private contracts between same-sex couples and same-sex marriage in state constitutions; state statutes are not listed. The text of these amendments sometimes runs several paragraphs. In this event, excerpts of the most important phrases or sentences are included in this list.

There are several different types of state constitutional amendments banning legal recognition of same-sex unions in U.S. state constitutions, termed defense of marriage amendments.


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Dane Andrew Johnson's curator insight, February 13, 2013 12:46 PM

this article is about how the government is banning same sex unions. Thirty-one U.S. state constitutional amendments banning legal recognition of same-sex unions and they are claiming that this is unconstitutional.

Jacob Boe's comment, March 7, 2013 8:33 AM
This article is about some states banning same sex unions. Thiry one in fact! I feel that this isn't the best course of action for our nation and that the Supreme Court should step in.
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