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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Marriage Equality Goes Before the California Supreme Court

It has taken four years for the legal battle over California's marriage equality to reach the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, March 4th at 9:00 am, California's seven Supreme Court justices will hear oral arguments in the San Francisco marriage case that was launched in March of 2004. This case challenges the constitutionality of state law that discriminates against same-sex couples in marriage.

The History:
The San Francisco same-sex weddings took place between February 12 and March 11 of 2004 when San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, issued a directive to the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

On February 20, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered state attorney general Bill Lockyer to halt the marriages. Lockyer refused, although he agreed that the marriages were unlawful.

On March 11th, the California Supreme Court ordered the city to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However by this time, approximately 4,000 same-sex couples had already been issued marriage licenses.

In August of 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that all the marriage licenses are worthless, and the subsequent marriages are not valid.

Shortly after the marriage licenses were invalidated, the marriage cases were filed with the court. In April of 2005, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard A. Kramer ruled that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage violates the California Constitution.

In November of 2006, in a 2-1 vote, the California Court of Appeal reversed Judge Kramer's ruling. Now, the California Supreme Court is poised to hear the case.

This is a landmark case and shouldn't be missed. And lucky for us, we will be able to watch oral arguments live on the California Channel cable network (televised statewide), as well as a live webcast. For a list of local stations, or to find the webcast, go to

There will also be Community viewings available in San Francisco (9 a.m. to 12 noon, unless otherwise noted) at the following locations:


San Francisco LGBT Community Center
Three Dollar Bill Cafe
1800 Market Street (at Octavia)

UC Hastings College of the Law
Louis B. Mayer Auditorium
198 McAllister Street
(Panel discussion about the cases will follow at 12:30 p.m.)

California Supreme Court
Overflow Auditorium
359 McAllister Street

Milton Marks Conference Center
Hiram J. Smith State Office Building
Lower Level
455 Golden Gate Avenue

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