Model Marriage and Civil Union Codes for Same-Sex Couples
A briefing on new model marriage and civil union legislation, with social science and legal context,
by the Williams Institute.
Sheila James Kuehl, UCLA Regents’ Professor of Public Policy and former California State Senator
Ilan H. Meyer, Williams Senior Scholar of Public Policy, The Williams Institute
Jennifer C. Pizer, Legal Director and Arnold D. Kassoy Senior Scholar of Law, The Williams Institute
Evan Wolfson, Founder and President, Freedom to Marry
Currently, nineteen states and the District of Columbia offer same-sex couples either marriage or a non-marriage, alternative status – or both. These laws provide legally recognized partnership options for over 40% of the U.S. population and almost half of same-sex couples. However, these laws vary widely and this inconsistency causes unnecessary confusion and problems for same-sex couples and their families. The limitations in these laws and the inconsistencies between them also mean that couples’ relationships are sometimes not legally recognized in their homes state or when they travel to other states. The new model marriage and civil union codes presented during this briefing will help ensure greater consistency and predictability among state laws, benefiting same-sex couples and their families, employers, businesses, and government. Context for the model legislation also is provided, including legal support, key demographic data, results of economic analyses, psychology research about anti-LGBT discrimination and stigma, and other research concerning marriage for same-sex couples.