Same-sex marriage is legal or has been legalized in four of the six New England states. These states include Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The New England region has been noted for being the nucleus of the same-sex marriage movement in the United States,with the region having amongst the most widespread and earliest legal support.
In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage, to be followed by three more states between October 2008 and June 2009. This followed Vermont being the first-in-the-nation with civil unions in 2000.Currently, Iowa and the District of Columbia are the only U.S. jurisdictions outside New England performing same-sex marriages, and California performed them for five months in mid 2008.
The legalization of same-sex marriage was part of a campaign which began in November 2008, called Six by Twelve, and was organized by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to legalize same-sex marriage in all six New England states by 2012.
The region holds a number of firsts on same-sex marriage: Vermont was the first state to enact it through legislative means and not because of a judicial ruling, and Maine was the first state to have a governor sign a same-sex marriage bill that was not the result of a court decision. However, Maine's gay marriage law was repealed through a people's veto.On May 6, 2009, Maine's legislature and governor enacted a law to allow same-sex marriage in Maine. The law was subsequently repealed by voters on November 3, 2009.
Rhode Island and Maine are the New England states that do not have same-sex marriage. Despite this, support in Rhode Island for same sex marriage is consistently within the 54% range.There have been numerous reasons given for why New England has found such strong legal recognition for same-sex marriages in comparison to the rest of the United States.
Same-sex marriage is not currently legal in the state of Rhode Island; however, while several bills were introduced to the Rhode Island General Assembly in 2009 which would provide for same-sex marriages, the governor has promised to veto it, leading the 6x12 campaign and other same-sex marriage advocates to look towards 2011, when the Republican governor leaves office after a mandated term limit.
Nevertheless, the odds against same-sex marriage in Rhode Island are considered rather higher than in the rest of New England, primarily on account of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church.
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