May 31, 1989
The San Francisco board of supervisors passes an
ordinance to start a domestic-partnership registry.
May 27, 1999
The California state legislature passes a series
of domestic-partnership rights, including a statewide
registry, though before signing the legislation in
July, Gov. Gray Davis weakens benefits for same-sex
March 7, 2000
Proposition 22 passes in a referendum election,
with 61% of voters in favor of defining marriage as an
institution reserved for heterosexual couples.
January 20, 2004
In his State of the Union address, President
George W. Bush expresses support for an amendment to
the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage,
inspiring audience member Gavin Newsom, who had been sworn
in as mayor of San Francisco less than two weeks
earlier, to begin authorizing same-sex marriages in
February 12, 2004
San Francisco becomes the first municipality in
the United States to marry same-sex couples when Mayor
Newsom directs the San Francisco city-county clerk to
issue marriage licenses regardless of the
February 13, 2004Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund v. City
and County of San Francisco is filed in the
San Francisco County superior court, seeking to
prevent further marriage licenses from being granted to
same-sex couples and to invalidate licenses already granted.
February 17, 2004
Judge James Warren allows San Francisco to
continue granting marriage licenses to same-sex
March 11, 2004
The California supreme court issues a temporary
order calling for San Francisco to stop issuing
marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
March 12, 2004
The National Center for Lesbian Rights files
Woo v. State of California on behalf of 12
couples, Equality California, and Our Family
Coalition, seeking marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Cocounsel on the case are Heller Ehrman LLP, Lambda Legal,
the American Civil Liberties Union, and the law firm
of David C. Codell.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Deputy City
Attorney Therese M. Stewart file City and County of
San Francisco v. State of California,
challenging discriminatory provisions in state marriage
Tyler v. State of California is filed by private
attorneys on behalf of two same-sex couples in Los
2004Clinton v. State of California is filed by private
attorneys on behalf of six same-sex couples in San
Campaign for California Families v. Newsom is filed
to challenge Mayor Newsom's right to marry gay
The California judicial council orders all six
cases consolidated to become In re Marriage
August 12, 2004
In Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco,
the California supreme court invalidates the
approximately 4,000 marriage licenses issued to
same-sex couples at San Francisco City Hall, ruling that the
municipality acted beyond its authority.
January 1, 2005
Domestic-partnership laws are expanded to
include more privileges and responsibilities such as
inheritance rights, joint responsibility for debts,
and the ability to request child support following
dissolution of a relationship.
March 14, 2005
San Francisco County superior court judge
Richard Kramer issues a tentative decision that
California's ban on same-sex marriage is
"impermissibly arbitrary." He also finds that
Proposition 22, which barred same-sex couples from
obtaining marriage licenses, is
September 6, 2005
The California legislature becomes the first in
the nation to pass a marriage equality bill, a measure
proposed by Assemblyman Mark Leno. Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger announces the following day that he will veto
the bill; he does so on September 29.
July 10, 2006
In re Marriage Cases attorneys state their arguments
before California's first district court of
October 5, 2006
The first appellate court rules 2-1 that the
state may continue to bar same-sex couples from
November 14, 2006
Plaintiffs appeal to the state supreme court, which on
December 20 announces a unanimous decision to hear
In re Marriage Cases.
September 7, 2007
The California legislature passes the Religious Freedom
and Civil Marriage Protection Act. On October 12,
Governor Schwarzenegger again vetoes the bill, noting
that he prefers to let the court decide the issue and
that he will support whatever decision it reaches.
September 26, 2007
By the court's deadline for groups and
individuals to submit friend-of-the-court briefs for
In re Marriage Cases, 30 briefs are filed
in support of the plaintiffs, representing hundreds of LGBT
activist groups, religious bodies, legal organizations, and
family and child advocacy groups.
March 4, 2008
The California supreme court hears arguments for In
re Marriage Cases.
April 24, 2008
Representatives from the antigay organization Protect
Marriage deliver 1.1 million petition signatures to
county officials, hoping to qualify its proposed
constitutional ban on same-sex marriage for the
May 2, 2008
A competing constitutional amendment seeking to
rescind domestic-partnership rights as well as ban
same-sex marriage fails to get enough signatures to
qualify for the ballot.
May 15, 2008
The California supreme court rules 4-3 that
denying same-sex couples the right to marry is
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