Same-sex marriage in California

Legal status of same-sex unions
Marriage
Performed
Recognized

  1. Not performed in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
  2. Neither performed nor recognized in Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands
  3. Neither performed nor recognized in Northern Ireland, the dependency of Sark and six of the fourteen overseas territories
  4. Neither performed nor recognized in American Samoa and many tribal jurisdictions with the exception of federal recognition benefits
  5. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  6. When performed in the Netherlands proper
  7. If performed before 1 June 2018
  8. Registration schemes open in all jurisdictions except Hualien County, Penghu County, Taitung County and Yunlin County

* Not yet in effect

LGBT portal

Same-sex marriage is legal in the U.S. state of California, and first became so on June 16, 2008, when the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as the result of the Supreme Court of California ruling in In re Marriage Cases, which found that barring same-sex couples from marriage violated the state's Constitution. The issuance of those licenses was halted during the period of November 5, 2008 through June 27, 2013 (though existing same-sex marriages continued to be valid) due to the passage of Proposition 8—a state constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages.[1] The granting of same-sex marriages recommenced following the United States Supreme Court decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, which restored the effect of a federal district court ruling that overturned Proposition 8 as unconstitutional.

On August 4, 2010, United States District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker declared Proposition 8 a violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a decision upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on February 7, 2012. The case, known as Perry v. Brown in the Ninth Circuit, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 31, 2012.[2] The case was granted review as Hollingsworth v. Perry on December 7, 2012 and a decision was issued on June 26, 2013.[3] The Court decided that the official sponsors of Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to appeal the district court decision when the state's public officials refused to do so.[4] The judgment of the Ninth Circuit was vacated and the case was returned to that Court with instructions to dismiss the Prop 8 sponsors' appeal. On June 28, 2013, a stay of effect was removed from the federal district court decision and same-sex marriages were able to resume. Same-sex couples began marrying later that day.[5]

Before the passage of Proposition 8, California was only the second U.S. state (after Massachusetts) to allow same-sex marriage. Those marriages granted under the laws of other state governments, foreign and domestic, were legally recognized and retained state-level rights since 2008.[6][7]

History

From February 12 to March 11, 2004, under the direction of Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, officials of the City and County of San Francisco issued marriage licenses to approximately 4,000 same-sex couples despite it being illegal to do so at both the state and federal level. During the month that licenses were issued, couples traveled from all over the United States and from other countries to be married. On August 12, citing the Mayor's lack of authority to bypass state law, the Supreme Court of California ruled that the marriages were void.[8] Consolidated lawsuits against the State Government in favor of same-sex marriage which followed eventually reached the Supreme Court of California. On May 15, 2008, it overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage with the ruling In re Marriage Cases.[9] The four-to-three decision took effect on June 16, 2008.[10] Two weeks earlier, the initiative to override this result of the court decision qualified for the November election ballot. The Court declined to stay its decision until after the November elections.[11] Some reports suggested that out-of-state same-sex couples would marry in California prior to the 2008 elections because California does not require the marriage to be valid in the couple's home state.

The ballot initiative, Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment titled Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry Act,[12] appeared on the California general election ballot in November 2008 and passed with a 52% majority.[13][14] Support for Proposition 8 was not uncontroversial, with Mormons and the Mormon Church donating $20 million to campaign for its passage.[15] As for the opposition, the California Supreme Court heard several challenges to Proposition 8 in March 2009,[16] but ultimately upheld the amendment, though the over 18,000 couples that were married in the time before Prop 8 was passed remained valid.

California continues to allow domestic partnership. This grants same-sex couples almost all state-level rights and obligations of marriage[17] but does not apply to "federal-level rights of marriage that cannot be granted by states." However, since June 2015, same sex marriages are recognized and performed, as well as recognized by the Federal Government.[18] UCLA's Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy projected in June 2008 that about half of California's more than 100,000 same-sex couples would wed during the next three years and 68,000 out-of-state couples would travel to California to exchange vows.[19]