Happy 10th Anniversary!
On February 12, 2004, then-Mayor (now Lieutenant Governor) Gavin Newsom decided to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, calling it a "fundamental right." According to The Associated Press, 4,000 couples were married over the following month before the California Supreme Court stepped in and voided the marriages.
It took another nine years before gay marriage would be legal in California, but those 4,000 marriages were an important step towards the present day, when it seems every week, another state is joining the marriage equality movement.
Legacy Lives On
While California may have finally gotten there, nine years later, the battle for same-sex marriage continues across the nation. We've lost count of how many state recognize same-sex marriages at this point (it might be at 17), and how many recognize other states' marriages, but here are some of the more recent updates:
- Nevada's officials dropped out of the battle earlier this week, leaving the voter-approved initiative's sponsors as the only remaining party defending it. We're not sure how that fits with California's Hollingsworth v. Perry.
- A federal judge in Texas heard arguments about that state's law today, with the state's lawyer calling same-sex marriage "a more recent innovation than Facebook." Judge Orlando Garcia, who stopped short of issuing a ruling from the bench, noted that segregation and bans on interracial marriage were part of American tradition until after the Civil War (thanks to judges).
- Utah and Oklahoma's bans are headed for an expedited appeal to the Tenth Circuit. Arguments are expected in April.
- In Virginia, the state's attorney general declined to defend the law, though other state officials have stepped forward.
- In West Virginia, a judge recently allowed a lawsuit to move forward challenging that state's ban.
- And today in Kentucky, a judge ruled that the state couldn't refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, reports The Associated Press.
That's just in the last few weeks. And in each dispute, either Perry or Edith Windsor's challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act has played a large part in the discussion and resolution of the legal issues, typically those of standing and equal protection.
Honoring the 4,000
Tonight at 5 p.m., there will be a reception at San Francisco City Hall for the 4,000 couples married there a decade ago, with speeches by Lt. Gov. Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and others, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Ten years ago, then-Mayor Newsom and 4,000 couples took a stand against injustice and changed history," Mayor Lee said in a statement. "We honor them today, even as we recommit to the cause for marriage equality across our own country and around the world."
- SCOTUS Marriage Rulings: DOMA Is Dead, Prop. 8 Down on Standing (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog)
- Perry and Windsor: Threads of Standing, Constitutional Quandaries (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog)
- 9th Extends Batson to Gay Jurors Using Windsor's Vague Reasoning (FindLaw's U.S. Ninth Circuit Blog)