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Same-sex marriage in the United States

In the United States, same-sex marriage is not legally available.

Opposition to it is fierce, mainly by religious groups. Also, in 1996, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law; it allows U.S. states to not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other U.S. states (although no state currently offers same-sex marriage as an option) or other countries. Since then, various states have passed a law or changed their constitution to assert that they do not recognize same-sex unions, nor will they recognize such unions legally recognized in other states. These laws are sometimes referred to as "Mini-DOMAs".

There are also many groups actively fighting for legal recognition of same-sex marriage, among them traditional LGBT groups such as HRC[?], Lambda Legal[?] and NGLTF[?], as well as groups that have been created around this single issue, such as Marriage Equality[?] and Freedom to Marry[?].

Vermont is the only US state to offer same-sex couples all of the rights and benefits of heterosexual couples. Vermont does not use the word marriage, but calls such unions civil unions. The history of the civil union law in Vermont is given in the civil union article.

California's State Assembly recently passed a domestic partnership law which would provide similar benefits, but again stops short of full same-sex marriage.

There is also a bill in both chambers of the New York State legislature that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. This bill was introduced in early 2003 and is currently in committee.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada has raised questions about US law, due to Canada's proximity to the US and the fact that Canada has no citizenship or residency requirement to receive a marriage certificate (unlike the Netherlands and Belgium). Canada and the US have a history of respecting marriages contracted in either country.

A number of American couples immediately headed or planned to head to Ontario in order to get married. A coalition of American national gay rights groups has issued a statement asking couples to contact them before attempting legal challenges, so that they might be coordinated as part of the same-sex marriage movement in the United States.



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