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Marriage Equality, Landmark Court Decisions

In the United States, major advancements in marriage equality have been secured through court challenges on both the state and federal levels. The first same-sex marriage cases date from the 1970s and the early days of the gay liberation movement. However, the concerted push for marriage equality did not begin until the mid-1990s, when a series of positive decisions from the Hawai’i state courts signaled that same-sex couples could secure the right to marry under state constitutional law. The Hawai’i marriage litigation provoked a popular backlash, and voters in many states amended their state constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriage, thereby eliminating the power of the courts to use state constitutional protections to compel same-sex marriage. Beginning in 2009, the focus of the marriage litigation ...

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