10 Years After Massachusetts, US May be Close to Allowing Most Same-Sex Couples to Marry

Boston, Ma., 6/14/07 Erin Dunn gets hugged after hearing that the state Legislature had voted against a proposed 2008 ballot question to ban gay marriage. The vote followed 3 and a half years of controversy and reaffirmed the state's first-in-the-nation same-sex marriage ruling, protecting the rights of gays and lesbians to wed in Massachusetts until at least 2012.. ( David L. Ryan Globe staff photo ) pow061107
In this June 2007 file photo, Erin Dunn celebrated after hearing that the state Legislature had voted against a proposed 2008 ballot question to ban gay marriage.
David L. Ryan/Globe staff

On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the US to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Ten years after the historic move, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage, most recently in Idaho and Arkansas. And according to The Washington Post, the US is on the brink of allowing a majority of gay Americans to marry.

But despite being fewer than half of the states, back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that just about half of the U.S. gay population lives in a state that allows gay marriage. And if you consider states that have same-sex marriage decisions on hold, that percentage is poised to pass 60 percent.

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The Post created a map, which shows what they call “an imprecise but revealing calculation” of same-sex marriage in the US. Green means gay marriage is legal, yellow means a same-sex marriage ban has been overturned, but is pending appeal, and red means gay marriage is banned.

Looking at census data, the Post calculated that about 43 percent of gay Americans live in states where they can legally marry.

Another map from the Post gives a glimpse of the how same-sex marriage has been challenged in courts across the country.

Same-sex marriage has evolved in the decade since the Supreme Judicial Court moved to legalize it in Massachusetts. This interactive from the Associated Press shows how attitudes toward same-sex marriage and laws have changed over the years: