Marriage Equality USA

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Lawsuits - Resolved

Aranas v. Napolitano (Formerly Aranas/DeLeon, et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, et al.)

Case #: 8:12-cv-01137 (Formerly SACV12-1137-JVS(MLGx))
Date Filed: 12 July 2012
Ruling Date: 12 February 2014


Jake Miller v. Elayne Angel

NOTE: This case is not fully resolved. The case is still pending and the dissolution has not been issued yet. We have listed it here because the issue of whether or not the marriage was legally valid has been resolved.

Case Number: GD053180
Date Filed:
2 October 2013
Ruling date:
6 August 2014 RE: whether or not the marriage was legal/valid


  • Jake Miller was born female. In 1996 he had “sexual reassignment surgery” and had his name and official gender changed to male via the California courts. He was also authorized to apply for a new birth certificate, which he asked his attorney to handle. However, his attorney at the time did not follow through with this.
  • On 17 November 2003, Miller and Elayne Angel obtained a marriage license and went through a civil marriage ceremony. The notary did not request to see their birth certificates, but asked for proof of age, which they provided through their driver’s licenses. They both later testified that they were unaware that Louisiana law required marriage license applicants to provide their birth certificates.
  • Several years later, in 2006, Miller applied for and received a new California birth certificate identifying him as male.
  • While living together in Louisiana as husband and wife, Miller and Angel filed joint state and federal tax returns. They then moved to Mexico, where they lived for several years until they stopped getting along in September 2013. 
  • Miller returned to California to stay with his sister and filed a Petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court for a legal separation. When the petition was served on Angel, she responded without objecting to jurisdiction. Miller amended his action to seek a marital dissolution, and Angel responded again without raising any jurisdictional issue. However, when Miller sought support payments, Angel filed a petition in Louisiana seeking an annulment of the marriage. She claimed that the marriage was actually a same-sex marriage, prohibited in Louisiana. She said that at the time the marriage ceremony was performed, Miller did not have a birth certificate designating him as male, and she objected to the jurisdiction of the California Superior Court.
  • On 6 August 2014, L.A. Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman ruled that the marriage was legally valid, that Angel's motion to stop Miller's dissolution petition was denied, and that the case can proceed. Case Details 
  • 14 August 2014: VICTORY! Marriages of Transgender People Ruled Valid by Courts in Arizona and California - Article from the Transgender Law Center
Tracy and Maggie Cooper-Harris v. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, et al.

Case #: 2:12-cv-00887
Date Filed: 1 February 2012
Ruling Date: 29 August 2013


  • Cooper-Harris, a military veteran and a member of/spokesperson for MEUSA, and her wife filed suit to obtain the same pay and benefits as other legally married soldiers.
  • 29 August 2013, the court ordered that a veteran can’t be denied benefits just because of having a spouse of the same gender. 
  • 4 September 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had ceased enforcing U.S. Code, Title 38. (Case summary.)
Handi Lui, et al., v. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, et al.

Case #: 2:11-CV-01267-SVW (JCGX)
Date Filed: 10 February 2011
Ruling Date: 18 July 2013


  • 10 February 2011, Handi Lui, a citizen of Indonesia who in 2009 married his American spouse, Michael Ernest Roberts, in Massachusetts, sued the government after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, denied the couple’s marriage-based petition for permanent residency (the Board of Immigration Appeals later upheld that decision). In the lawsuit, Lui argued that in doing so, USCIS violated the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions barring sex discrimination. Furthermore, Lui argued, immigration officials’ interpretation of the Defense of Marriage Act in denying the green card petition was unconstitutional.
  • 28 September 2011, the federal district court dismissed the case, because of its similarity to a 1982 case in Colorado (Adams v. Howerton). 
  • 29 November 2011, they appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. 
  • 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it spent $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one.
Karen Golinski v. U.S. OPM

Case #: 12-15388, 12-15409
Date Filed: 20 January 2010
Ruling Date: 7 July 2013


  • Karen Golinski submitted an application to enroll her spouse Amy Cunninghis under her employer-provided insurance plan.
  • On 2 October 2008 Golinski filed a complaint under the Ninth Circuit's Employment Dispute Resolution Plan that the denial of insurance coverage for her spouse constituted prohibited discrimination.
  • Twice Chief Judge Alex Kozinski ordered that Golinski be allowed to enroll Cunninghis in the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan that covers Golinski and her son, and twice the OPM announced that it would ignore that order.
  • 20 January 2010 Lambda Legal filed suit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
  • 3 July 2012 The Justice Department asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case.
  • 7 December 2012 Out of the four DOMA challenges the Supreme Court was asked to consider, including Golinski v. OPM, the Court agrees to hear United States v. Windsor.
  • 26 June 2013, in U.S. v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court declares Section 3 of the federal, so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional.
  • 23 July 2013, citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses the appeal of the U.S. District Court ruling in Golinski v. O.P.M.
Dennis Hollingsworth, et al. v. Kristin Perry, et al. (Original case name was Perry v. Schwarzenegger.)

For detailed information regarding this case, please see the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) section on The Perry Case.

Case #: 12–144 (SCOTUS); C 09-2292 VRW (as Perry v. Schwarzenegger in 9th federal district court)
Date Filed: 22 May 2009
Ruling Date: 26 June 2013


  • 22 May 2009, this case was originally filed on behalf of two same-sex couples by attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, asking for a preliminary order blocking Prop 8.
  • 4 August 2010, in Dennis Hollingsworth, et al. v. Kristin Perry, et al., California’s Proposition 8, which limited marriage only to mixed-gender couples, was declared unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of the federal district court (9th). 
  • The defendants appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 7 February 2012, the district court ruling was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 5 June 2012, the 9th Circuit federal appeals court refused to re-hear its prior decision. 
  • The defendants, the Prop 8 proponents, appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 26 June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the 9th Circuit ruling because the Proposition 8 authors had no standing to appeal. The Supreme Court decision left the original federal district court decision, that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, intact.
  • 15 July 2013, in Hollingsworth v. O’Connell, the CA Supreme Court declined a request from Proposition 8 authors to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-gender couples, but did agree to consider whether the governor and attorney general correctly told county clerks that Proposition 8 had become invalid statewide.
  • 19 July 2013, in San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg v. Governor Jerry Brown, San Diego County petitioned the CA Supreme Court to halt all same-gender marriages.
  • August 2013, Clerk Dronenburg withdrew his petition.
  • 4 August 2013, the CA Supreme Court dismissed the new 15 July 2013 suit from the Proposition 8 authors, finally closing this state/federal case for once and for all, 4.5 years after it began. on 8 v. Bowen

Case #: 2:2009cv00058 (California Eastern District Court); 11-17884 (9th Circuit Court of Appeals)
Date Filed: 7 January 2009
Ruling Date: 20 May 2014


  • In 2008, the authors of CA Proposition 8 (NOM, Protect filed a federal lawsuit claiming that because they suffered boycotts, hate mail, phone calls, and unreported “death threats” they should be forever exempt from compliance with CA campaign disclosure laws, and their donors should stay secret. 
  • The U.S. Supreme Court does make exceptions for small, persecuted groups who need anonymity to survive, but the Proposition 8 authors didn’t qualify because they raised over $43 million and got 52% of the votes cast. 
  • 20 October 2011, the district court ruled against them. 
  • 11 October 2013, they argued their case in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 20 May 2014, the 9th Circuit affirmed the ruling by Chief Judge Morrison C. England, Jr., of the Eastern District of California, which had rejected a 1st Amendment challenge to the state’s disclosure statute as it applied to a controversial ballot initiative.
  • 2 March 2015, Supreme Court rejects appeal by Prop 8 donors to keep their identities secret - AP via LGBTQNation
Strauss v. Horton

Case #: S168047
Date Filed: 
5 November 2008
Ruling Date: 
May 2009


  • Lambda Legal, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed a writ petition in the California Supreme Court. The petition urged the court to invalidate Proposition 8 (see Ballot Initiatives - Resolved below).
  • Two other petitions were filed in the Supreme Court the same day - making similar arguments, with the same goal. (Robin Tyler et al. v. State of California #S168066 and City and County of San Francisco et al. v. Horton #S168078)
  • 19 November 2008, the Supreme Court agreed to hear all three petitions challenging Prop 8.
  • January 2009, 40+ amici curiae (friend-of-the-court) briefs were submitted from hundreds of religious organizations, civil rights groups and labor unions, numerous California municipal governments, scores of bar associations and dozens of leading legal scholars urging the California Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8.
  • 26 May 2009, the court upheld Proposition 8, while also upholding the rights of the approximately 18,000 same-sex couples who married in California between 16 June 2008 and 5 November 2008.
In re Marriage Cases

San Francisco’s Legal Fight for Marriage Equality Timeline

Case #: S147999 (California Supreme Court)
Date Filed: 12 March 2004
Ruling Date: 15 May 2008


  • During then Mayor Gavin Newsom’s 2004 “Winter of Love” in San Francisco marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples. 
  • 13 February 2004, two organizations, the Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Campaign for California Families, filed actions in San Francisco Superior Court seeking an immediate stay to prohibit the City from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • The Superior Court refused to grant the groups' request for an immediate stay, and the City and County continued to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Following this, the California Attorney General and a number of taxpayers filed two separate petitions seeking to have the California Supreme Court issue an original writ of mandate, asserting that the City's actions were unlawful and warranted [the court's] immediate intervention."
  • 11 March 2004, the California Supreme Court ordered officials of San Francisco "to enforce the existing marriage statutes and to refrain from issuing marriage licenses not authorized by such provisions."
  • The Court later held in Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco that the City and County had acted unlawfully, but was free to bring an action challenging the constitutionality of the marriage laws if it wished.
  • 12 March 2004, the City and County of San Francisco then filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate in Superior Court, seeking a declaration that "all California statutory provisions limiting marriage to unions between a man and a woman violate the California Constitution." Six actions were consolidated in a single proceeding called In re Marriage Cases.
  • Two of the plaintiffs in In re Marriage Cases were MEUSA Board Members Legal & Policy Director John Lewis and his husband Communications Director Stuart Gaffney.
  • 15 May 2008, Judge Richard A. Kramer ruled that the marriage restriction was invalid under the strict scrutiny standard based on a suspect classification of gender. (This NY Times article features a photograph of MEUSA’s John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney.)
  • 24 May 2004, the case was argued before the California Supreme Court by City and County of San Francisco Chief Deputy District Attorney Theresa Stewart, then life partner (now spouse) of future MEUSA President Carole Scagnetti.
  • 12 August 2004, the California Supreme Court ruled holding that Mayor Newsom and other city officials lacked authority to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, invalidating marriage licenses issued by San Francisco to same-sex couples in February and March 2004.
  • The case went to the San Francisco Superior Court and then to the California Court of Appeal, which issued a split decision on 10 October 2006, upholding the constitutionality of marriage laws that discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. Court of Appeal Justice Anthony Kline issued a vigorous dissent, arguing that the CA marriage laws violated the California Constitution's right to privacy.
  • 20 December 2006, the California Supreme Court agreed to review the Court of Appeal ruling.
  • 2007 was spent preparing the case and on 4 March 2008 the California Supreme Court heard oral argument, again argued by Chief Deputy District Attorney Theresa Stewart, whose wife, Carole Scagnetti, was national President of MEUSA at this time.
  • 15 May 2008, the California Supreme Court held that California marriage laws' exclusion of same-sex couples violated State Constitutional rights to privacy, liberty and equal protection.
  • 16 & 17 June 2008, the California Supreme Court's decision in In re Marriage Cases became final and weddings of same-sex couples began again at San Francisco City Hall and at counties across the State of California.
  • Same-sex couples were able to legally wed until the passage of Proposition 8 on 4 November 2008 invalidated the Supreme Court’s ruling. (See Ballot Initiatives – Resolved below.)