The battle over gay marriage, in three maps

March 27, 2013

We wrote this item back on March 1, but felt it was worth resurfacing today, given the Supreme Court's consideration of same-sex marriage in high-profile cases this week. The friend-of-the-court brief referenced below had to do with the case that was argued Monday over California's ban on same-sex marriage.

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The Obama administration's urging of the Supreme Court to reverse California's ban on same-sex marriage marked its entry into a contentious legal battle and its latest appearance in the larger fight over the question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. Below, we take a closer look at how the fight has been unfolding across the country, state by state. And be sure to also check out The Washington Post's thorough, state-by-state rundown of same-sex marriage status in the U.S.

This map, from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life details where gay marriage is and isn't legal. It also points out the states with same-sex marriage bans, and the states where same-sex marriage is neither legal nor banned. It's also worth bearing in mind that last November, gay rights advocates scored big victories when voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved same-sex marriage laws, while voters in Minnesota defeated a same-sex marriage constitutional ban.

The friend-of-the-court brief the Obama administration filed noted seven other states with domestic partnership laws similar to California's: Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island. "Seven other states provide, through comprehensive domestic partnership or civil union laws, same-sex couples rights substantially similar to those available to married couples, yet still restrict marriage to opposite sex couples," said the brief.

The brief did not call for those laws to be overturned, but it's still notable that they were mentioned. Those could be the future battlegrounds in the fight over gay marriage, especially if the California ban is overturned. Below is a map from the National Conference of State Legislatures that identifies the states with civil union and domestic partnership laws.

The following Washington Post map shows that 37 states limit marriage to opposite sex couples. If you click on the map, you can see the breakdown of the the 31 states that have written it into their constitution and the 6 that have passed statutory laws.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Aaron Blake · March 27, 2013