<b>Timeline:</b> Proposition 8

Aug. 4, 2010
A federal judge in San Francisco rules that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, striking down Proposition 8, the voter approved ballot measure that banned same-sex unions. U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said Proposition 8, passed by voters in November 2008, violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians to marry the partners of their choice.. His ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

October 14, 2009
A federal judge refuses to dismiss a constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, ruling the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage raised legal and factual issues that required a trial.

May 27, 2009
Opening a new front in California’s gay marriage battle, prominent attorneys working for a project of the American Foundation for Equal Rights announce they will file suit in federal court. The suit calls for an injunction against Proposition 8 and the immediate reinstatement of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

May 26, 2009:
The California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage but also rules that gay couples who wed before the election will continue to be married under state law. The decision virtually ensures another fight at the ballot box over marriage rights for gays. Gay rights activists say they may ask voters to repeal the marriage ban as early as next year, and opponents have pledged to fight any such effort. Proposition 8 passed with 52% of the vote.

March 5, 2009:
The California Supreme Court strongly indicates it will rule that Proposition 8 validly abolished the right for gays to marry but will allow same-sex couples who wed before the November election to remain legally married.

March 2, 2009
The California state Senate approves a resolution calling Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on gay marriage, an improper revision of the California Constitution because it was not approved by the Legislature.

November 19, 2008:
The California Supreme Court votes 6 to 1 to review legal challenges to Proposition 8, but refuses to permit gay weddings to resume pending a final decision.

November 4, 2008:
California voters pass Proposition 8 -- which amends the state Constitution to ban gay marriage -- with about 52% of the vote. A 2000 ballot initiative banning gay marriage, Proposition 22, had passed with 61% of the vote but was later struck down by the state’s high court.

July 16, 2008:
The California Supreme Court rejects arguments that Proposition 8 -- which if passed by voters would amend the state Constitution to ban gay marriage -- is an illegal constitutional revision. Justices also reject the argument that voters had been misled when they signed petitions to put it on the ballot.

June 16, 2008:
County registrars and clerks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda, Sonoma and Yolo counties keep offices open to allow at least two dozen same-sex couples the distinction of being among the first to wed. Seven Southern California Roman Catholic bishops, including L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony, reaffirm their opposition to same-sex marriage.

June 2, 2008:
More than one million signatures are submitted for a ballot measure that would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as a union “between a man and a woman” and undo the California Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriages.

May 15, 2008:
The California Supreme Court rules that the state Constitution protects a fundamental “right to marry” that extends equally to same-sex couples. The three dissenting justices argue that it is up to the electorate or the Legislature to decide whether gays should marry.

March 4, 2008:
The California Supreme Court considers four lawsuits brought by same-sex couples after San Francisco issued marriage licenses in 2004. Three of the court’s seven justices indicate they will uphold state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Ruling expected within 90 days.

October 12, 2007
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes a bill approved by state lawmakers that would legalize gay marriage. He says the courts need to rule on the legality of Proposition 22, the gay marriage ban passed by voters.

September 19, 2007:
An emotional Mayor Jerry Sanders abruptly reverses his public opposition to same-sex marriage. Sanders, tears welling and voice breaking, says he realizes that he can not tell his daughter Lisa, who is gay, that her relationship with a partner is not as important as that of a straight couple.

June 5, 2007:
A measure to legalize marriage for gay couples easily passes the California Assembly after a respectful debate. As he did in 2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to veto the measure.

September 29, 2005
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes a same-sex marriage bill after it passed the Senate and Assembly. Schwarzenegger says the bill would wrongly reverse Proposition 22, which declares that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

August 22, 2005:
The California Supreme Court rules that children born to gay couples have two legally recognized parents -- the first such ruling in the nation.

June 29, 2005:
The California Supreme Court declines to hear a challenge to the state’s sweeping domestic partners benefits law. Critics of the law thought such benefits would be prohibited by Proposition 22.

December 21, 2004
San Francisco judge hears arguments on same-sex marriages. At the heart of the consolidated lawsuits -- brought by the city of San Francisco and a dozen gay and lesbian couples -- is the contention that current law defining marriage as “between a man and a woman” violates the state Constitution by denying homosexuals the “fundamental right” to marry the person of their choosing.

August 12, 2004
The California Supreme Court rules unanimously that San Francisco’s mayor overstepped his authority by issuing same-sex marriage licenses this spring. By a 5-2 vote, the court also declares the roughly 4,000 marriages of gay and lesbian couples that had been sanctioned by the city “void from their inception and a legal nullity.”

March 11, 2004:
The California Supreme Court unanimously orders San Francisco to stop marrying gay couples and announces that it will rule on the legality of the city’s actions within the next few months. In four weeks, nearly 4,000 gay couples received licenses.

March 3, 2004:
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council pass resolutions opposing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

February 12, 2004:
Mayor Gavin Newsom instructs city officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the first action of its kind in the nation. Dozens of couples are married as city offices stay open late to accommodate long lines.

September 19, 2003:
Gov. Gray Davis signs a bill that gives state-registered domestic partners many of the legal rights and obligations of married couples in matters involving children, money and property. While stopping short of recognizing gay marriage, the law gives a partner the right to financial support and child custody after a partnership is dissolved and gives a survivor the right to collect his or her partner’s government benefits.

October 14, 2001:
Gov. Gray Davis signs a bill that substantially expands the rights granted domestic partners. The bill adds about a dozen legal benefits, including the right to make medical decisions for a partner in the hospital, use sick leave to care for an ill or incapacitated partner and relocate with a partner without losing unemployment benefits.

March 7, 2000:
More than 61% of Californians approve a ballot measure declaring that marriage should remain reserved for couples of the opposite sex. Just 14 words long, Proposition 22 was one of the shortest initiatives ever placed on a California ballot. Yet it ignited an emotional $16-million campaign that set church against church, neighbor against neighbor and relative against relative.

January 3, 2000:
California starts registering domestic partners. While groundbreaking, the law affords same-sex couples only two benefits: hospital visitation rights and health insurance coverage for the dependents of government employees covered by CalPERS, the state retirement system.