Timeline: The long battle over same-sex marriage 

A federal lawsuit ruling Wednesday is the latest in a string of legal arguments that began after San Franciso issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004.

  • Feb. 12, 2004: Mayor Gavin Newsom authorizes The City to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. More than 4,000 such couples were married during the 29-day wedding spree that followed.
  • March 11, 2004: San Francisco stops issuing marriage licenses at the order of the California Supreme Court.
  • March 2004: Twelve same-sex couples and two gay-rights groups file a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court contending that the state’s marriage laws violate the California Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment.
  • Aug. 12, 2004: The California Supreme Court voids San Francisco’s same-sex marriages, finding that Newsom violated state law.
  • December 2004: Six cases — for and against same-sex marriage — are heard simultaneously in San Francisco Superior Court.
  • March 14, 2005: A San Francisco Superior Court judge declares California’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The ruling is put on hold to allow for court appeals.
  • July 10, 2006: All six cases are heard in the California Court of Appeal before a three-judge panel.
  • Oct. 5, 2006: California Court of Appeal panel upholds marriage laws that exclude gay and lesbian couples as constitutional.
  • Nov. 13, 2006: San Francisco appeals to the state Supreme Court.
  • May 15, 2008: The California Supreme Court overturns the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban.
  • June 16, 2008: The state Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage in California becomes effective at 5:01 p.m.
  • Nov. 4, 2008: Proposition 8, a ballot measure amending the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, is passed with just more than 52 percent of the vote. In the days that follow, county clerk offices around the state halt same-sex marriages.
  • Nov. 5, 2008: The San Francisco city attorney files a challenge to Prop. 8, along with two other groups.
  • Nov. 19, 2008: The state Supreme Court agrees to hear the case about the legality of Prop. 8.
  • May 22, 2009: Two same-sex couples file a lawsuit in federal court, challenging Prop. 8.
  • May 26, 2009: The state Supereme Court upholds Prop. 8, but rules that the marriages of same-sex couples already married are valid.
  • Jan. 11, 2010: Federal non-jury trial begins in the San Francisco courtroom of Judge Vaughn R. Walker.
  • June 16, 2010: Closing arguments are heard in the federal lawsuit.
  • Aug. 4, 2010: Judge Walker rules Prop. 8 is unconstitutional.


Source: Examiner archives; National Center for Lesbian Rights

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