This has been a big year for gay rights, with public opinion and public officials coming down on the side of equality. Today, New Jersey became the 14th state where same-sex couples can marry. At midnight, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who was just elected to the Senate, presided over two gay marriages at City Hall. And Republican Gov. Chris Christie announced today he would withdraw his appeal to the court ruling that upheld the right for gay couples to wed. Although he had previously opposed the decision, a statement from his administration said, "The court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution, and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law."
Over the past year, gay marriage has spread to eight different states. That's a lot of change in a fairly short amount of time, so to keep you up to date, here's a simple timeline of legalization across the US. Keep reading for a look at which states now support gay marriage.
Effective: May 17, 2004
In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage, with Susan Shepherd and her partner, Marsha Harris (pictured above), becoming the first legally married same-sex couple in America. Four years later, the state also voted to repeal a 1913 law that banned out-of-state gay couples from marrying in the state.
Effective: Nov. 12, 2008
Connecticut made its first steps toward equality in 2005 with a civil-union law that granted same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities. Three years later, gay marriage became legalized, and in 2010, all the previous civil unions automatically became marriages.
Effective: April 27, 2009
In 2005, six gay couples filed suit against a county recorder who wouldn't accept their marriage license applications, and after four years, the Iowa Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional to limit marriage to a man and a woman. Later that year, 92 percent of Iowans say life continued as normal, but interestingly, they remained divided on whether gay marriage should be legal.
Effective: Sept. 1, 2009
In 2000, Vermont brought about the first civil union law that offered gay couples the same legal rights and responsibilities of marriage, and in 2007, a committee formed to study the issue of same-sex marriage. Two years later, the bill that allowed same-sex couples to marry was introduced and passed, going into effect in Fall 2009.
5. New Hampshire
Effective: Jan. 1, 2010
On New Year's Day 2010, New Hampshire followed suit among other New England states and legalized same-sex marriage, replacing the civil-union law that went into effect in 2008.
Effective: March 3, 2010
A major milestone for gay rights came in 2010 when the nation's capital legalized same-sex marriage. Because DC isn't a state, the law went under congressional review, but on March 3, it passed so that couples could receive marriage licenses, and on March 9, the weddings began.
6. New York
Effective: July 24, 2011
More than 800 couples from across the state and country wed in New York that day — including Phyllis Siegel and Connie Kopelov (pictured here), the first same-sex couple to marry in the state. Once New York legalized gay marriage, the number of Americans living in states where same-sex couples could tie the knot doubled.
7. Washington State
Effective: Dec. 6, 2012
The same-sex marriage bill was publicly supported by Washington-based companies like Amazon and Starbucks, and on Nov. 6, voters approved the legislation. Within three days of the law taking effect, more than 600 marriage licenses were issued in King County alone.
Effective: Dec. 29, 2012
In 2009, Maine voters rejected a same-sex marriage law, but three years later, gay marriage became legalized by popular vote — approved by 53 percent.
Effective: Jan. 1, 2013
A law that legalized gay marriage in Maryland was signed in March 2012, and 52 percent of voters approved the legislation that November. It was the first time same-sex couples won the right to marry by a popular vote, followed months later by Maine's vote.
Effective: July 1, 2013
Momentum seemed to carry across New England. On May 7, just five days after a similar decision in Rhode Island, Delaware legalized same-sex marriage, becoming the 10th state to do so. Before signing, Gov. Jack Markell tweeted his congratulations: "Congrats to all who were successful in their advocacy efforts — marriage equality is a reality in #netDE."
11. Rhode Island
Effective: Aug. 1, 2013
On May 2, Rhode Island legalized same-sex marriage with a 56-15 vote, and the law took effect on Aug. 1.
Effective: Aug. 1, 2013
Although the state spent much of 2012 debating an amendment to the state constitution that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman, voters rejected the amendment in November elections, and a push toward legalizing same-sex marriage began. Of May's legalization, Minnesota Sen. Tony Lourey said, "In my heart of hearts, I know that today, love wins."
Effective: June 28, 2013
Days after the Supreme Court ruled against Prop 8, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the state's ban on gay marriage, immediately requiring marriage licenses to once again be issued to gay couples.
14. New Jersey
Effective: Oct. 21, 2013
Since 2007, New Jersey has recognized civil unions for same-sex couples. Gay couples challenged that law, and the case made it all the way to the state supreme court, which ruled in their favor in September. The justices decided that the civil-unions law restricted federal benefits granted to married couples after the US Supreme Court threw out the Defense of Marriage Act. Thus, New Jersey became the first state to grant marriage equality based on the 2013 DOMA ruling.