Comparison of Gay Marriage Laws in Six States

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New York's gay marriage law went into effect July 24. Since then, hundreds of couples have been legally married from New York City all the way to Niagara Falls near the Canadian border. New York is the sixth state to legalize gay marriages in the United States. Here's how New York's law compares to the five other states who allow same-sex couples to be married.

New York

New York's new law changes language in the law for the application for a marriage license. Added to the books in New York is a law that expressly forbids the denial of a marriage license based upon whether the couple is of same sex or opposite sexes.

The Marriage Equality Act states, "No application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same, or a different, sex."

Otherwise, the legal language for getting married remains the same. A fee of $40 applies for those outside of New York City. There is a 24-hour waiting period and licenses are valid for 60 days until they have to be completed.


Iowa is the only state in the Midwest that allows gay marriage. It was only through a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court in 2009 that legalized same-sex marriages in the first place. Five same-sex couples sued the state to overturn its ban on same-sex marriage claiming the law didn't protect their civil rights. In New York, the state legislature passed the measure with the approval of the governor.

The Des Moines Register reported April 3, 2009, the decision was unanimous. The ruling maintained a church's right to not have a same-sex marriage ceremony but made it illegal for county clerks to deny someone the right to marry. In order to overturn the ruling, an amendment to the Iowa Constitution must be approved by two sessions of the legislature and by a vote of the people.

A fee for getting married in Iowa costs $35. Applicants for a marriage license can pick up the form three business days after applying for the document.


Massachusetts has had gay marriages since 2004 after a landmark case worked its way through the state Supreme Court. Goodridge v. Mass. Department of Public Health found no rational reason why same-sex couples couldn't get married in Massachusetts and found limiting same-sex couples violated equal rights in the state.

Massachusetts requires a three-day waiting period to fill out a marriage license. Fees vary depending upon which town you apply for your license. You don't have to be a resident of Massachusetts to get a marriage license there.


Reuters reported Vermont was the fourth state to legalize gay marriage in April of 2009 after the legislature narrowly overrode the governor's veto. Vermont had the distinction of being the first state to legalize gay marriage through the legislature instead of through the court system.

There is a $45 fee for a certified copy of the marriage license. There is no waiting period and you don't need a blood test.


The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in the fall of 2008 that a civil union law for gays was not "equal protection under the law" and paved the way for gay couples to have full marriages. The New York Times reported it was a 4-3 decision to allow gay marriages.

Applicants for marriage must apply for a license in the county or town in which they are to be married. There is no blood test requirement.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch signed a bill into law in early June of 2009 making same-sex marriages legal in the state. The New York Times reported a clause in the measure exempts religious organizations from participating in same-sex marriages if they so choose.

A $45 fee is necessary when applying for a marriage license. There is no waiting period associated with getting married in New Hampshire.

William Browning is a research librarian.

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