History of Marriage in the U.S.

By tmb1025
  • Law

    Virginia enacts a law stating that if a white person marries a person of color, the couple will be banished from the colony. This means almost certain death in the woods.
  • Louisanna Black Code

    Article VIII of Louisianna Black Code forbids marriages between slaves without consent of the slave master.
  • Law

    "By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in the law. The very being and legal existence of the women is suspended during the marriage, or a least is incorperated into that of her husband under whose wing and protection she performs everything."
  • Constitution SIgned

    Constitution SIgned
  • Women's Rights Granted

    Women's Rights Granted
    Mississippi grants women the right to hold property in their own name, with their husbands permission. By 1900 all states had legislation granting women some control over their property and earnings.
  • Missouri vs. Celia

    Missouri vs. Celia
    A black women is declared to be a property without a right to defend herself against a master's act of rape.
  • Mississippi Black Code

    Mississippi Black Code
    The Mississippi Black Code probhibits Blacks from marrying whites, punishable by life imprisonment.
  • Page Law

    Page Law
    Page Law ends the arrival of Chinese women immigrants based on the fear that Asian immmigrants would either begin to from families in the U.S., or that "those who didn't have protection of a man might become a prostitute."
  • The Immigration Act

    The Immigration Act
    Bans all Asian immigration. Saying that they are psychopaths, inferiors, and 'people with abnormal sexual instincts.'
  • New York v. Sanger

    New York v. Sanger
    New York v. Sanger allows doctors to advise their married patients about birth control for health purposes. It wasn’t until 1965 that all state laws prohibiting the prescription or use of contraceptives by married couples were overturned.
  • Ladies Agreement

    Ladies Agreement
    “Ladies Agreement” ends the arrival of Japanese and Korean picture brides. European women are also affected — they were banned from entry if they could not show that either a man or a job was available.
  • Immigration Act of 1924

    Immigration Act of 1924
    Immigration Act of 1924 establishes quotas that even more heavily favor Northern and Western European immigrants. Immigration from Asia is banned, including wives and children of Chinese Americans.
  • Perez v. Sharp

    Perez v. Sharp
    In Perez v. Sharp, California Supreme Court becomes first state high court to declare a ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional. In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, overturns all state bans on interracial marriage, declaring that the “freedom to marry” belongs to all Americans.
  • Immigration Act

    Immigration Act
    Immigration Act eliminates race, creed and nationality quotas as basis for admission to the United States. The act stressed family reunification and awarded 3/4 of immigration slots to relatives. “Family” is based on strictly heterosexual and nuclear ties. Law explicitly bans lesbians and gays as “sexual deviates.”
  • Divorce in California

    California adopts the nation’s first “no fault” divorce law, allowing divorce by mutual consent.
  • Womens Shelter Opens

    Womens Shelter Opens
    First battered women’s shelter opens.
  • Homosexuality

    INS announces new policy on homosexuality: If an immigrant admitted that s/he was homosexual to an INS inspector, s/he is excluded. If a homosexual person denied that s/he was homosexual, but was later found out, s/he could be deported for perjury.
  • Kirchberg v. Feenstra

    Kirchberg v. Feenstra
    Kirchberg v. Feenstra overturns state laws designating a husband “head and master” with unilateral control of property owned jointly with his wife.
  • Repeal of gay and lesbian ban

    Repeal of gay and lesbian ban
    Congress repeals ban on gay and lesbian immigration by removing homosexuality as a reason to disqualify foreigners from immigrating, or even visiting the United States.
  • Period: to

    Same- Sex Marriage

    A series of articles are published in LGBT and mainstream journals advocating for marriage of same-sex couples to become a national priority in LGBT organizing. The authors of these articles were gay conservative white men who saw marriage as a way to make the LGBT community more “respectable.”
  • Marital Rape

    Marital Rape
    All fifty states have revised laws to include marital rape.
  • Social Groups

    Gays and lesbians qualify as a particular social group for purposes of U.S. asylum law,

    The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) is the first federal law to explicitly promote marriage and encourage the formation of two-parent [heterosexual] families.
  • No divorce in Arizona

    No divorce in Arizona
    Arizona passes Covenant Marriage legislation, under which heterosexual couples promise to stay married for life and renounce their legal right to a no-fault divorce. Florida becomes the first state to mandate high school seniors to take a marriage and relationship skills course before graduation through the Florida Marriage Preparation and Preservation Act.
  • Vermont Creates a Law Allowing Same-sex Couples to Marry

    Vermont Creates a Law Allowing Same-sex Couples to Marry
    Vermont Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples are entitled, under the Vermont Constitution, to all of the protections and benefits provided through marriage. In 2000, Vermont legislature passes and Vermont Governor signs a law creating civil unions for same-sex couples, giving these couples all the rights and benefits of marriage under Vermont law but not marriage licenses.
  • Encouraging Marriage

    Oklahoma Governor announces a $10 million plan to encourage marriage and reduce divorce. Other states continue to follow this example and in 2004 Congress will vote on whether or not to include “marriage promotion programs” in welfare reform nationally.
  • Massachusetts Lawsuit

    Massachusetts Lawsuit
    Gay and lesbian couples from Massachusetts file state court lawsuit seeking the right to marry.
  • Same sex Couples Sue

    Same sex Couples Sue
    Seven New Jersey lesbian and gay couples sue in New Jersey state court and demand their constitutional right to marry.
  • Lawrence v. Texas

    Lawrence v. Texas
    In Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down last remaining anti-gay sodomy laws in Texas and other states.
  • Period: to


    The Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) is proposed and defeated in Congress. The FMA would have denied marriage rights to same-sex couples by adding the following two sentences to the U.S. Constitution: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.” “Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups
  • Goodridge v Dep. of Public Health

    Goodridge v Dep. of Public Health
    On November 18, 2003 in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Supreme Court holds that barring an individual from the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution.
  • Marriage Licenses Issued to Same Sex Couples

    Marriage licenses first issued to same-sex couples in MA on May 17, 2004.