Marriage Equality USA

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District of Columbia
All in this Region

Current Status

  • Civil marriage equality in effect at the district level since 2010. (Same-sex couples may legally marry.)

  • Since 1992, the District has allowed residents to enter into registered domestic partnerships; since the passage of the Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act of 2009, the District recognizes civil unions and domestic partnerships performed in other jurisdictions that have all the rights and responsibilities of marriage. The law gives the mayor discretion to recognize relationships from states with lesser benefits.
  • 8 December 2009, marriage equality was legalized in the District of Columbia when District Mayor Adrian Fenty signed a bill passed by the Council 3 days previously. Following the signing, the measure entered a mandatory Congressional review of 30 work days. Marriage licenses became available on 3 March 2010, and same-sex marriages began on 9 March 2010.
  • The District was the first jurisdiction in the United States below the Mason–Dixon Line to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Legislation - Pending


Legislation - Enacted

Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act

Date Introduced:
Date Enacted: 20 July 2009


  • 7 April 2009, the same day that Vermont legalized same-sex marriage, the council voted unanimously (12–0) to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. The move was hailed as a possible gateway to legislation of same-sex marriage in the near future.
  • 5 May 2009, under the District's procedures, the bill was voted on again and the D.C. Council overwhelmingly approved the bill.
Religious Freedom And Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act 2009

Author/Sponsor: D.C. Councilman David Catania
Date Introduced: 6 October 2009
Date Enacted: 3 March 2010


  • To allow same-sex couples to marry in the district.
  • Signed by the mayor on 18 December 2009.
  • Marriage licenses became available on 3 March 3 2010.

Lawsuits - Pending

Murphy v. Colvin

Case #: 
Court Level: Federal District Court for the District of Columbia
Date Filed: 22 October 2014
Date of Appeal: 


  • 22 October 2014, Lambda Legal filed suit against the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of Kathy Murphy, a Texas widow denied spousal benefits after the death of her wife, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (the National Committee), arguing that denying Social Security benefits to same-sex spouses because they live in states that discriminate against their marriages violates the U.S. Constitution. Lambda Legal PR.

Lawsuits - Resolved

Dean v. District of Columbia

Case #: 92—CV-737
Date Filed:
Ruling Date: 19 January 1995


  • Craig Robert Dean and Patrick Gerard Gill, a couple who met all of the District's requirements for a marriage license except for being of the same sex, sought an order to compel the District to issue them a marriage license.
  • The Court upheld a decision from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia denying them the license, finding that the District's marriage statute did not contemplate same-sex marriages despite being gender-neutral, that denying the license did not violate District law against discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation and that denying the license did not violate the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending


Ballot Initiatives - Passed



  • 5 April 2013 the Williams Institute released the results of marriage equality polling they had done state-by-state. The District of Columbia scored the highest approval rate nationwide with 62% of those polled supporting marriage equality. Poll Details