Celebrating 10 years after the Winter of Love 

click to enlarge same-sex marriage
  • Eric Risberg/2004 ap file photo
  • Phyllis Lyon, left, 79, and Del Martin, 82, hold up their marriage certificate outside City Hall on Feb. 12, 2004, after they were the first same-sex couple to be married in The City.
Ten years ago today, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom took a courageous stand in San Francisco against marriage discrimination, asserting that the California Constitution’s equal protection clause gave him authority to grant same-sex marriages. The City stood witness to history when the first marriage occurred between the wonderful Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, and what followed was one of the most important civil-rights movements of our generation. And it started right here.

Loving couples who were previously denied their rights were allowed to marry in City Hall and all told during 2004’s Winter of Love, more than 4,000 couples were married.

It was a proud moment for San Francisco, and some of my most meaningful moments in public service.

Our city will always be grateful for the incredible efforts of those who worked for years on the path toward marriage equality and bringing the marriage-equality case before our nation’s highest court, including current Lt. Gov. Newsom, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies, Chad Griffin and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Kate Kendall from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Phyllis Lyon and her late partner, Del Martin, who for decades inspired so many through their love for each other and by their commitment to marriage equality.

I would like to express my appreciation and respect to the people who suffered through an era when they were denied their equal rights. These countless couples and families can finally move on and leave behind an era of inequality and truly celebrate.

We took a historic step in San Francisco toward guaranteeing marriage equality for every Californian and protecting millions of California families, choosing hope and love over ignorance and discrimination. From that day in 2004 through the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June, the movement continues.

Today, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, but the struggle for marriage equality and civil rights for every American in every state must continue. It’s our job to continue on. And we will continue the fight until everyone is treated equally.

We will do this by continuing to change hearts and minds to make sure gay and lesbian couples can wed and enjoy the same legal rights as all families do.

San Francisco will always be at the forefront of fighting for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender dignity and equality. We will walk together on this long journey to fulfill the promise of equal protection under the law for every American enshrined in our Constitution.

I hope you will join the couples and families at City Hall today at 5 p.m. to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Winter of Love.

Ed Lee is the mayor of San Francisco.

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