In 2004, when Utahns went to the polls to vote on Amendment 3 to forbid both same-sex marriages and domestic unions of any kind, only one state was allowing two men or two women to marry one another — Massachusetts.
It stayed that way clear until 2008, when fellow New England state, Connecticut, joined in. Iowa and Vermont said yes in 2009, New Hampshire and New York followed in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Maine and Washington started in 2012 and 2013 was a banner year, as California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and, last but not least, Utah.
Hawaii was the first state to ban same-sex marriages, after the legislature passed a statue forbidding them when their supreme court said their constitution did not disallow same-sex marriages. They followed that up with the first constitutional amendment against marriage equality. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints played a heavy role in both the statute and the amendment.
North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment in 1995 and 15 states did as well in 1996 during the Bob Dole/Bill Clinton presidential race where many political pundits said the Republican Party pushed such amendments to get more conservatives to the polls.
Ultimately, 41 states banned same-sex marriage by 2010.
As states, through both legal challenges and elections, began allowing gay marriages, the number has dropped to 32.
In 2014, Illinois will begin allowing same-sex marriages.
New York University Law School professor Ari Waldman believes that as many as 10 states could be decided by the courts in 2014, and another one or two by ballot.
“There is no doubt that the state bans on same-sex marriage are on thin ice,” said Waldman. “Justice Kennedy was pretty clear about the guarantee of equality for gay couples. With each decision, more and more people in this country are living in ‘marriage equality’ states, which means that more and more people are going to live in a world where gay couples are getting married.”