Marriage Equality USA

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Current Status

  • Civil marriage equality in effect at the state level first in 2008 for 4 months, and then again beginning in June 2012. (Same-sex couples may legally marry.)
  • Marriage equality recognized by the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel tribe in California as of 24 June 2013.
  • March 2015, Fair Share for Equalitypresents the findings of Equality California's Fair Share for Equality convening. This event, created as part of EQCA Institute’s educational outreach, brought together leaders from the LGBT community and community organizations, educators, social science experts and legislators to highlight and address the health and well-being disparities between California’s LGBT community and the broader community.


  • In 1989 the Bar Association of San Francisco called for the legalization of same-sex marriages.
  • In 1999, the California Domestic Partnership Registry was enacted - it was the first of its kind in the United States created by a legislature without court intervention. 
  • Also in 1999, Davina Kotulski and Molly McKay, of the San Francisco East Bay, founded Marriage Equality California (MECA).
  • In 2001 Davina Kotulski became the second Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA, reactivating the national organization. Marriage Equality New York (MENY), MECA and MEUSA were all born of ideas activists conceived in 1996. 
  • In 2003, the introduction of The California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003 (Assembly Bill 205 of 2003) marked a major shift in the legislature’s approach to domestic partnerships. This bill, introduced by Assemblymembers Jackie Goldberg, Christine Kehoe, Paul Koretz, John Laird, and Mark Leno, created the presumption that domestic partners were to have all of the rights and responsibilities afforded spouses under state law. This bill also ensured that similar relationships, such as civil unions, created in other states would be recognized in CA. Governor Gray Davis signed the bill into law in September 2003 and it went into effect 1 January 2005. To this day CA provides the broadest domestic partnerships in the U.S. to all same-sex couples and to opposite-sex couples in which at least one person is over the age of 62.
  • In 2004, then Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom issued 4,037 marriages licenses to same-sex couples - this has become known as the historic "Winter of Love." 
  • In 2005, Assemblymember Mark Leno introduced AB 849, a bill legalizing same-sex marriages that became the first bill of its kind to pass a legislative body in the United States. The bill passed both the Assembly and the State Senate, but was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. 
  • In April 2006, MECA merged into MEUSA, becoming the California chapter of the national organization.
  • In 2007, Assemblymember Mark Leno introduced AB 43, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, that would have allowed for same-sex marriage. This bill passed the Assembly and Senate, but was again vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • 16 May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage was unconstitutional.
  • 16 June 2008 - 4 November 2008 an estimated 18,000+ same-sex couples were married in California following the CA Supreme Court ruling.  
  • The guarantee of access to civil marriage was stripped away from unmarried same-sex couples with the passage of Proposition 8 on 4 November 2008. Prop 8 amended the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
  • The taking away of a civil right that had been legally extended to a class of people became a key component of the legal battle for marriage equality in California.
  • On 26 June 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld a lower court's ruling that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional and marriage equality was restored to Californians.