Getting Married & Wedding Planning

En Español

Q. When can we get married in states that have been barring same-sex couples from marrying?

A. Soon, but maybe not immediately everywhere. At the time the Supreme Court issued its decision, fourteen states and three territories prohibited same-sex couples from marrying.  State and local officials in those places can and should stop enforcing their marriage bans immediately now that the Supreme Court has ruled.  But it is possible that officials in some places may not start allowing couples to marry until the federal courts issue orders directly prohibiting them from enforcing their state or territory’s marriage ban.  Federal lawsuits have been brought in all states that continue to enforce their marriage bans as well as in Puerto Rico, and we expect attorneys in those cases to promptly ask the courts to issue injunctions or to take other steps now that the Supreme Court has ruled. We know from experience, however, that this process can take a different amount of time in each jurisdiction depending on how quickly the courts move and how much government officials attempt to drag out the process.  The process could be resolved as quickly as within a matter of days or it could take several weeks or longer depending on the particular jurisdiction.

Couples intending to apply for Social Security, Veterans or other federal retirement benefits based on one another’s work record should be aware of marriage duration requirements in many retirement and benefit programs. These provisions require a couple to be married a certain period of time before a spouse or surviving spouse can apply for benefits, regardless of the length of the relationship before the marriage. If you have concerns about waiting any longer to marry for these or other reasons, you should consider marrying as soon as possible, or marrying in a state that already has marriage rights, to ensure eligibility and compliance with these duration requirements.
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Q. Can a clerk or probate judge who is issuing licenses to different-sex couples refuse to issue us a marriage license?

A. No. Government officials who are charged with issuing marriage licenses cannot deny you a license solely because you and your partner are the same sex. If you have been denied a marriage license or have encountered hostility or delays, contact one of our organizations.
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Q. Can a photographer, wedding venue, florist or other wedding service provider legally turn us away because we are a same-sex couple?

A. It depends on where you live. Businesses that are open to the public should treat all customers equally and offer the same goods and services to everyone. If you live in a state or city that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations (usually defined to include most businesses), it is illegal for you to be denied a service solely because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, or because you are marrying someone of the same sex.  But there are no federal prohibitions on sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in public accommodations and no express statewide protections in more than half of the states.

If you have been turned away from a business because you are seeking a service for your wedding to a person of the same sex and want to report what happened or discuss possible options, contact one of our organizations.
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This guidance is intended to provide general information.  It should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.  None of the organizations publishing this information can ensure the information is current or be responsible for any use to which it is put.