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Same-sex marriage laws across the United States
(CNN) -- Until 1995, when Utah became the first state to expressly prohibit same-sex marriages, the law in most states defined marriage to be between a man and a woman.
Five years later, 33 states have adopted laws that specifically prohibit same-sex marriages, limiting such unions to couples of the opposite sex.
In 1996 President Bill Clinton signed the "Defense of Marriage Act" that prohibits same-sex marriages. This law forbids couples from receiving federal marriage benefits and allows states to ignore same-sex marriages that may be sanctioned by other states.
In April 2000 the Vermont legislature passed the first law in the United States that would allow same-sex couples to enter into a legally recognized union.
Although the Vermont statute emphatically reaffirms that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, it also establishes a new legal classification called "civil union," for which same-sex couples may apply. The provision takes effect July 1, 2000.
Such couples would be entitled to all the rights and responsibilities under Vermont law that are available to married couples -- among them, inheriting a partner's estate without paying extra taxes, making medical decisions for each other and filing joint income tax returns.
Click on the map to see the status of revised laws in each state
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