The Washington Post

Same-sex marriage in D.C.: A timeline

Gay couples in the District were allowed to marry beginning in March 2010. (MARVIN JOSEPH/TWP/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Maryland will become the eighth state to allow same-sex marriage, and the first below the Mason-Dixon line. But gay couples in the Free State’s neighbor, the District, began marrying in March 2010.

Gay marriage first became legalized in Massachusetts in 2004 after a state Supreme Court ruling. Massachusetts was followed by Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, D.C. and New York between 2008 and 2011.

Maryland’s bill was approved Thursday after a year-long battle and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) plans to sign it into law soon. Washington state’s legislature and governor aproved a bill to authorize gay marriage this month, and it will take effect in June unless opponents succeed in putting it to a referendum.

 D.C.’s attempt to allow gays to marry, however, began in 1975. Check out D.C.’s same-sex marriage timeline below.

1975: Then-council member Arrington Dixon (D) proposes legalizing same-sex marriage in the District. The proposal was subsequently squashed by opposition from city religious leaders.

D.C. began to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries in July 2009, but gay couples in the city weren’t able to legally wed until March 2010. (Tracy A Woodward/WASHINGTON POST)


July 7: D.C. begins to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.

Dec. 15: The D.C. Council votes 11-2 to permit gay marriages.

Dec. 18: Then-mayor Adrian Fenty (D) signs the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the District. The bill must make it through a 30-day congressional review period before it can become law. Opponents plan to take the bill to the courts and Congress to stop it.


Jan. 14: A D.C. Superior Court judge rules that same-sex marriage opponents cannot call for a referendum.

When Richard Imirowicz, far right, came to Washington in 1997, high up on his list of to-do's was "To find somebody and get into a relationship." He eventually would meet Terrence Heath, far left. They joined other Washington area gay couples on March 9, 2010 by legalizing their union. (Tracy A Woodward/WASHINGTON POST)

July 15: The D.C. Court of Appeals votes 5-4, upholding gay marriage in city by saying the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics acted lawfully when it refused to have gay marriage put to a referendum.


Jan. 18: The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear a challenge to the District’s same-sex marriage law. 

Staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed research.


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