July 22, 2011 / 8:25 PM / in 6 years

Gays form line at altar to be first to wed in NY

2 Min Read

(Reuters) - Gay and lesbian couples across New York are gearing up to wed starting on Sunday, when a law that makes New York the sixth U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage comes into effect.

Following is a look at laws on gay marriage in the United States and what will happen in New York on Sunday:

* As of Sunday, same-sex marriage is allowed in six of the 50 U.S. states -- Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont -- and the District of Columbia. The most populous among them is New York, which approved same-sex marriage on June 24.

* Four states -- Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey -- have approved gay civil unions. Gay marriage is specifically banned in 39 states.

* Courts and state legislatures have legalized gay marriage in the United States but popular votes have consistently opposed same-sex unions, most recently in Maine.

* Arizona is the only state where voters rejected a constitutional ban on gay marriage, in 2006, but they approved a similar measure in 2008.

* The first legal same-sex marriages in the United States took place in Massachusetts in 2004.

* In New York City, 823 same-sex and opposite-sex couples are expected to be married on Sunday. Same-sex couples plan to wed in various ceremonies across the state on Sunday.

* President Barack Obama's administration in February announced it will no longer defend a 15-year-old U.S. law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. A federal judge in Boston had found the law was unconstitutional.

Reporting by Basil Katz in New York; editing by Mohammad Zargham

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