In 1993 in Baehr v. Lewin, 74 Haw. 530; 852 P.2d 44, the Supreme Court of Hawaii’s decision to vacate a trial court’s refusal to hear a same sex marriage case, bought the issue of same sex marriage to the forefront. In Baehr, Nina Baehr (Plaintiff) sued the Department of Health (Defendant) because Defendant refused to issue her and her same-sex partner a marriage license. The trial granted Defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, thus dismissing the lawsuit. The Supreme Court of Hawaii vacated the trial court’s decision saying that Plaintiff was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on whether Hawaii Revised Statutes section 572-1 discriminated on the basis of sex by limiting marriage licenses to male-female couples. The court remanded the case to allow Ms. Baehr to pursue her equal protection rights.
In 1996, President William (Bill) Clinton signed a federal law entitled “The Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). The enactment of DOMA provided that no state had to recognize another state’s laws regarding same sex marriage. In other words, Article IV section 1 of the United States Constitution (Full Faith and Credit) no longer applied to same sex marriage. DOMA, also, defined marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” thus providing that same sex marriage would not be recognized under federal law.
In 1999, the California Legislature enacted a statewide domestic partnership registry. Adding FC sections 297-299.6.
Proposition 22 was passed by the California voters in November of 2000. The passing of this initiative added section 308.5 to the Family Code which provides that: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Proposition 22 was one of a number of similar measures that were proposed and adopted in many states in the 1990's and early 2000's in the wake of the decision of the Hawaii Supreme Court in Baehr v. Lewin, supra and of Congress' enactment of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Following the passage of Proposition 22, several lawsuits were filed seeking to have the new marriage laws declared unconstitutional because they violated the California Constitution. The lawsuits were consolidated into one case, In Re the Marriage Cases (May 15, 2008) 43 Cal.4th 757; 76 Cal. Rptr. 3d 683. In a coordinated proceeding, the trial court ruled in favor of plaintiffs’ challengers to California's marriage statutes, and against defendant proponents, holding that the statutes violated the California Constitution insofar as they limited marriage to opposite-sex couples. The Court of Appeal of California reversed the trial court's ruling on the constitutional issue. The California Supreme Court granted further review.
The Supreme Court declared FC § 308.5 law unconstitutional on May 15, 2008 leaving California with no law preventing same-sex marriages, thus making same-sex marriages legal in California. However, shortly...