Same sex marriage in new jersey. The federal government did not recognize civil unions as marriages so couples in a civil union could not have access to the same federal benefits. In Decemberthe District of Columbia Council passed a same-sex marriage law, subject to a congressional review period. Those four votes reversed a long trend of public votes against same sex marriage. The measure went into effect Dec. The law converts civil unions to marriage and recognizes civil unions and same sex marriage from other jurisdictions. Share this: Beforeseven states had laws that defined marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the legislation on Nov. Obama starts 'evolving' on gay marriage. Obama questions his own opposition to same-sex marriage.