HARTFORD, Conn. -- A federal judge in Connecticut has ruled that part of a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits to married gay couples is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant in Hartford ruled Tuesday that the provision in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act violates the Fifth Amendment right to equal protection.
The ruling came in the case of six married same-sex couples and a widower who sued after being denied federal benefits. The plaintiffs are from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Advocates for gay and lesbians applauded the ruling but expected an appeal.
Several similar rulings have been made by courts across the country. The Obama administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to settle legal fights over the law.
Since November 12, 2008
Gay marriage law <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/delaware-gay-marriage-law-_n_3232771.html" target="_blank">enacted</a>, weddings to begin July 1.
Since April 3, 2009
In 2012, Maine voted in favor of a ballot amendment to legalize gay marriage.
The gay marriage bill was signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on March 1, 2012. Opponents later gathered enough signatures to force the issue back onto the ballot in November 2012, but voters rejected the effort against gay marriage.
Since May 17, 2004
Same-sex marriage bill signed into law in May. Gay marriages will begin in August.
Since January 1, 2010
Since July 24, 2011
Bill passed in May. Law takes effect on August 1, 2013.
Since September 1, 2009
On February 13, 2012, Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) signed a law allowing same-sex marriage ceremonies to begin on June 7, 2012. The process was delayed by gay marriage opponents who gathered enough signatures to put the issue up to a state vote in November 2012. They voted to approve it on Election Day.
Since March 9, 2010
The state initially began conducting gay marriages on June 16, 2008. On November 5, 2008, however, California voters passed Proposition 8, which amended the state's constitution to declare marriage as only between a man and a woman. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled against that law, and the state shortly thereafter began sanctioning same-sex nuptials.