Social Policy & Politics Program | Report

The State of Relationship Recognition in 2013

by Lanae Erickson Hatalsky and Sarah Trumble

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When Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, it sparked a nationwide discussion on relationship recognition for gay couples that continues to this day: who should decide whether couples get recognized? What should that recognition look like? Is marriage ‘in everything but name’ sufficient? In the 17 years since DOMA was passed, our country has made significant progress—but the last 12 months may prove to be the most important yet in our country’s evolution. Here’s why:

  1. Gay couples can marry in twice as many states as 1 year ago, and half the country lives in a place with relationship recognition.
  2. Americans’ attitudes towards gay couples are more positive than ever.
  3. Marriage has gained an avalanche of political support.
  4. Voters supported marriage at the ballot box.
  5. The Supreme Court is poised to remake the landscape.

Based on what we’ve seen in the last year, it seems it is only a matter of time before all committed couples can make the lifetime promise of marriage, and receive full state and federal recognition of that relationship.

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