In re Marriage Cases

Landmark Case
May 15, 2008

On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the state to ban same-sex couples from civil marriage. The ACLU Foundation of Northern California and co-counsel represent a group of committed lesbian and gay couples as well as two non-profit organizations, Equality California and Our Family Coalition. Our co-counsel are the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, Heller Ehrman LLP, and the Law Office of David C. Codell.

The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on March 4.

The marriage case is among the most heavily briefed cases in the history of the California Supreme Court, with support from legal community leaders, counties and municipalities, and civil rights and religious organizations.

For example, some of the most populous cities in California; leading legal scholars; and groups ranging from the California Council of Churches to the California NAACP either filed or signed onto briefs in support of marriage for same-sex couples.

History of the Marriage Cases:

After the California Supreme Court ordered San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California and co-counsel filed our case, which became consolidated with other cases into In re Marriage Cases.

In 2005, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer ruled that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violates the state constitution's equal protection guarantees and the fundamental right to marry. The California Court of Appeal then reversed the ruling.

In December 2006, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear our appeal.

The Supreme Court ruled on May 15, 2008, that lesbian and gay couples are entitled to the same fundamental right to marry as heterosexual couples, a right protected by the California Constitution's guarantees of privacy, due process, and equal protection under the law.

Learn more:

ACLU and Marriage Cases Story

Timeline of CA Marriage Cases

Opinion (May 15, 2008)

List of Amicus Briefs in Support of Same-Sex Marriage (CA Supreme Ct.)

Read Amicus Briefs (off-site)

Court's Decision on Marriage Should Go into Effect on Schedule, Says Legal Brief on Behalf of Couples

Lesbian and Gay Couples Win Freedom to Marry in California

Same-Sex Couples Ask California Supreme Court to Strike Down Marriage Ban

California Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Appeal in Lawsuits Seeking Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

Divided California Court of Appeal Rejects Challenge to Discriminatory Marriage Law

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