A law allowing the recognition of gay marriages performed in other states has come into effect in Washington DC.

It means that same-sex couples in the district who married in the handful of US states which do allow the practice can now receive more than 200 rights, benefits, and obligations associated with marriage under DC law.

The law came into effect at 12.01am on Tuesday, when a 30-day Congressional review ended.

It will recognise gay marriages that are conducted within Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Gay marriages have been banned in California following the voter initiated Proposition 8 during the Presidential election.

However, as with states in which gay marriage is legal, couples will not be able to enjoy many of the 1,100 federal rights and benefits given to straight married couples, due to the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Enacted in 1996, DOMA allows states to reject gay marriages performed in other states and bars gay couples from accessing federal benefits.

In June, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum to extend federal benefits for partners to same-sex couples but critics have said the move will not be permanent, won’t include healthcare and will not be applied to those serving in the military.