"Massachusetts became the first state to legalize marriage between same-sex couples on May 17, 2004, as a result of a November 2003 decision by the state's highest court that denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry violated the state's constitution. Currently, federal law does not recognize same-sex marriages. This report discusses the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), P.L. 104-199, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows individual states to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in other states, and discusses the potential legal challenges to DOMA. Moreover, this report summarizes the legal principles applied in determining the validity of a marriage contracted in another state, surveys the various approaches employed by states to prevent same-sex marriage, and examines the recent House and Senate resolutions introduced in the 109th Congress proposing a constitutional amendment (H.J.Res. 39, S.J.Res. 1, and S.J.Res. 13) and limiting federal courts' jurisdiction to hear or determine any question pertaining to the interpretation of DOMA (H.R. 1100)."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31994