Unconstitutional! The Road to Marriage Equality in California

Ninth Circuit Rules Prop 8 Unconstitutional

Today is a landmark day in the road toward marriage equality in the state of California. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous ruling which declared that Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional under federal law. It is widely anticipated that the ruling will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Today’s victory is a significant milestone in what has been an uphill battle for same-sex marriage supporters in the state of California. Follow the timeline below to see the mountains we’ve climbed to get to this day.


March 7, 2000
California voters approved Proposition 22, also known as the Knight Initiative, with 61% of the vote. Prop 22 added to California’s Family Code, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”


February 12, 2004
At the direction of then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, the Office of the County Clerk of San Francisco revised forms for the marriage license application and for marriage certificates, and the City and County of San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in what became known as the “Winter of Love.”

March 11, 2004
The California Supreme Court halted same-sex marriage licenses from being issued in San Francisco. By that time about 4,000 same-sex couples had already received licenses.

August 12, 2004
The California Supreme Court annulled the marriages that Newsom had authorized, as they conflicted with then current state law.


September 29, 2005
Then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a same-sex marriage bill passed by both chambers of the California state assembly. Gov. Schwarzenegger reasoned that his veto was “out of respect for the will of the people,” referring to the voter’s passage of Proposition 22 in 2000.


October 12, 2007
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger again vetoed a bill approved by state lawmakers that would have legalized same-sex marriage.


May 15, 2008
In re Marriage Cases, the California Supreme Court struck down the voter-approved initiative Proposition 22, holding that “statutes that treat persons differently because of their sexual orientation should be subjected to strict scrutiny” and that the existing “California legislative and initiative measures limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the state constitutional rights of same-sex couples and may not be used to preclude same-sex couples from marrying.” In the six months that followed, approximately 18,000 same-sex couples married.

November 4, 2008
Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that sought to amend the state constitution, passed in the November 2008 state elections. The measure added a new provision to the California Constitution, determining that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Same-sex couples were once again barred from marriage in the state of California.


May 26, 2009
After being challenged, the California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 8 was valid and enforceable. The court also ruled unanimously that the approximately 18,000 same-sex marriages that had occurred prior to Proposition 8′s passage would still be valid and must continue to be recognized in the state.


August 4, 2010
On August 4, 2010, in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturned Proposition 8 but also stayed the ruling, keeping the voter initiative in effect pending appeal.


February 7, 2012
On Tuesday, February 7 a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that California’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional under federal law and that Judge Walker correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared that Proposition 8 was a violation of the civil rights of same-sex couples.

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One Response to Unconstitutional! The Road to Marriage Equality in California

  1. Dear those who are having a great time at the SF Pride prade do know that harvey milk would also be sanding up for people with disabliltlies of all kinds I highly support all of you this day and way to go on your victory from Brita who had Grad mal sezures at two in a half and now under control. Thanks for listening to my story!!!!!!!!! we are all in the same vote and need to be heard I sometimes do not where I live

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