Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

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In re Marriage Cases

NCLR was lead counsel on behalf of same-sex couples, Equality California, and Our Family Coalition in In re Marriage Cases, the marriage equality case decided favorably by the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008. NCLR has been litigating this case for four years, step by step:

  • In April 2005, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard A. Kramer ruled in favor of the couples, holding that California's exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage discriminates on the basis of sex and violates the fundamental right to marry.

  • On November 13, 2006, the California Court of Appeal overturned Judge Kramer's ruling in a 2-1 decision, saying that California may continue to bar same-sex couples from marriage.

  • On December 20, 2006, the California Supreme Court unanimously granted review. Oral argument were heard on March 4, 2008.

  • On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court issued a historic decision in In re Marriage Cases which challenged the constitutionality of state laws that discriminate against same-sex couples in marriage.

  • On June 4, 2008, the California Supreme Court also denied all petitions for rehearing of the case, and ordered that its decision from May 15 become final on June 16, 2008 at 5 p.m., clearing the way for same-sex couples to begin applying for marriage licenses and marrying on June 17, 2008.

NCLR’s co-counsel in the case were Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP; Lambda Legal; the ACLU; and the Law Office of David C. Codell.

read the case fact sheet (pdf)

In re Marriage Cases | victory!

On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court issued a historic decision in In re Marriage Cases which challenged the constitutionality of state laws that discriminate against same-sex couples in marriage.

read the court’s opinion (pdf)

read the press release from the California Supreme Court summarizing the decision (pdf)

read about the couples that we represent

listen to the archived audio arguments online

watch the archived video arguments online

meet the couples

The represented couples have made life-long commitments to each other. The couples come from throughout the state and from all walks of life, with some working in business, some in education, and others in health professions. Many are raising children together. Others are retired.

key allies | amici

Scores of religious and civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, California Council of Churches, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and National Black Justice Coalition, filed 30 briefs urging the court to put an end to state laws that deny same-sex couples the protections of marriage

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