Gay marriage is legal in eight states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maryland) as well as the District of Colombia. Civil unions are legal in eight others.
2000 Vermont became the first state to legally recognize the civil unions of gay or lesbian couples.
2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that preventing gays and lesbians from marrying violates its state constitution.
2004 Same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts. The first same-sex couple in the U.S. completed a state-sanctioned marriage application.
2005 Civil unions became legal in Connecticut.
2006 Civil unions became legal in New Jersey. A same-sex marriage bill passed in Feburary and was vetoed by Govenor Chris Christie.
2008 California voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage,Proposition 8. The decision to overturn it in 2010 was affirmed by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; another appeal to the full Circuit Court is pending.
2011 Same-sex marriage became legal in New York–the largest state that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry.
2012 Washington and Maryland became the seventh and eighth states to legalize same-sex marriage.