With Hawaii and Illinois, U.S. crosses a same-sex marriage mark

Story highlights

  • More than 1 in 3 Americans live where same-sex marriage is or will be legal
  • Hawaii and Illinois are the latest with Hawaii's law taking effect next month
  • 16 states and D.C. have legal same-sex marriage; others ban it, except New Mexico
  • Public support for it has doubled since 1996 to 53% of Americans

As Hawaii and Illinois join the list of states approving same-sex marriage, the United States crosses a big mark on the issue: More than 1 in 3 Americans will live where same-sex marriage is legal.

It's a dramatic shift in a short period of time -- one not seen on other social issues.

Hawaii's Legislature passed the measure Tuesday. Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed it into law Wednesday morning. It will go into effect December 2.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn plans to sign legislation for his state November 20. It will take effect June 1.

In all, 16 states and the District of Columbia now have legal same-sex marriage.

Hawaii Senate approves same-sex marriage
Hawaii Senate approves same-sex marriage


    Hawaii Senate approves same-sex marriage


Hawaii Senate approves same-sex marriage 02:13

It's banned in other states, except New Mexico, which has no state law either way. Some counties in New Mexico have begun allowing same-sex marriage.

The facts - same-sex marriage

The change in laws across the country comes as support for same-sex marriage has doubled in less than 20 years.

A 1996 Gallup poll found 27% of Americans thought same-sex marriage should be legal. In 2013, that figure was 53%.

President Obama's shift on the issue reflects that change.

"With today's vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law," Obama, a native Hawaiian, said in a statement Tuesday. In his first presidential election campaign, in 2008, Obama opposed same-sex marriage.

Groups opposed to same-sex marriage fear the steady change could lead to same-sex marriage being legalized nationally.

After the Senate last week passed the Employee Non-Discrimination Act -- which would protect gay, lesbian, and transgender employees in the workplace -- National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown said the act "could be a Trojan horse that enables the marriage redefinition agenda to be forced on the entire nation through the courts."

"We've seen how marriage redefinition leads to those who believe in traditional marriage being punished, labeled 'bigots' and 'haters' in the public square, and forced to be silent about their deeply held beliefs or face repercussions," he also wrote in a recent blog post. "And their children? They're taught in schools that the values planted in them at home are bigoted and outdated, the equivalent of racism!"

Illinois legislature OKs same-sex marriage