Timeline: Six state supreme courts gay marriage decisions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Six state supreme courts within the past five years have ruled on the issue of gay marriage. Following is a timeline of those decisions:

May 15, 2008 —  The California Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, orders the state to legalize gay marriage, saying marriage must be "available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples." The ruling overturns a statute that 61 percent of voters had approved.

Sept. 18, 2007 — Maryland's highest court, in a 4-3 decision, refuses to legalize gay marriage, saying the state has a "legitimate governmental interest" in "fostering procreation" by limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

Oct. 25, 2006 — The New Jersey Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, refuses to legalize gay marriage but orders the legislature to amend state law to give homosexual couples the legal benefits of marriage. Legislature subsequently legalizes same-sex civil unions. Three dissenting justices criticize ruling, saying gay marriage should be legalized, without an option for civil unions.

July 26, 2006 — The Washington state Supreme Court, in its 5-4 ruling, refuses to legalize gay marriage, saying that "limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to the survival of the human race."

July 6, 2006 — New York state's highest court, in a 4-2 decision, refuses to legalize gay marriage, saying that "intuition and experience suggest that a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like."

May 17, 2004 — A Massachusetts court ruling takes effect, making Massachusetts the first state in nation to legalize gay marriage.

Nov. 18, 2003 — The Massachusetts' high court, in a 4-3 decision, rules that the state's traditional marriage laws violate the state's constitution and that gay marriage must be legalized. Court stays its opinion 180 days.