Aug. 4, 2010 A federal judge in San Francisco rules that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, striking down Proposition 8, the voter approved ballot measure that banned same-sex unions. U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said Proposition 8, passed by voters in November 2008, violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians to marry the partners of their choice.. His ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and then up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
October 14, 2009 A federal judge refuses to dismiss a constitutional challenge to Proposition 8, ruling the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage raised legal and factual issues that required a trial.
May 27, 2009 Opening a new front in California's gay marriage battle, prominent attorneys working for a project of the American Foundation for Equal Rights announce they will file suit in federal court. The suit calls for an injunction against Proposition 8 and the immediate reinstatement of marriage rights for same-sex couples.
May 26, 2009: The California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8's ban on same-sex marriage but also rules that gay couples who wed before the election will continue to be married under state law. The decision virtually ensures another fight at the ballot box over marriage rights for gays. Gay rights activists say they may ask voters to repeal the marriage ban as early as next year, and opponents have pledged to fight any such effort. Proposition 8 passed with 52% of the vote.
March 5, 2009: The California Supreme Court strongly indicates it will rule that Proposition 8 validly abolished the right for gays to marry but will allow same-sex couples who wed before the November election to remain legally married.
March 2, 2009 The California state Senate approves a resolution calling Proposition 8, the voter-approved ban on gay marriage, an improper revision of the California Constitution because it was not approved by the Legislature.
November 19, 2008: The California Supreme Court votes 6 to 1 to review legal challenges to Proposition 8, but refuses to permit gay weddings to resume pending a final decision.
November 4, 2008: California voters pass Proposition 8 -- which amends the state Constitution to ban gay marriage -- with about 52% of the vote. A 2000 ballot initiative banning gay marriage, Proposition 22, had passed with 61% of the vote but was later struck down by the state's high court.
July 16, 2008: The California Supreme Court rejects arguments that Proposition 8 -- which if passed by voters would amend the state Constitution to ban gay marriage -- is an illegal constitutional revision. Justices also reject the argument that voters had been misled when they signed petitions to put it on the ballot.
June 16, 2008: County registrars and clerks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda, Sonoma and Yolo counties keep offices open to allow at least two dozen same-sex couples the distinction of being among the first to wed. Seven Southern California Roman Catholic bishops, including L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony, reaffirm their opposition to same-sex marriage.
June 2, 2008: More than one million signatures are submitted for a ballot measure that would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as a union "between a man and a woman" and undo the California Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriages.
May 15, 2008: The California Supreme Court rules that the state Constitution protects a fundamental "right to marry" that extends equally to same-sex couples. The three dissenting justices argue that it is up to the electorate or the Legislature to decide whether gays should marry.
March 4, 2008: The California Supreme Court considers four lawsuits brought by same-sex couples after San Francisco issued marriage licenses in 2004. Three of the court's seven justices indicate they will uphold state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Ruling expected within 90 days.
October 12, 2007 California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes a bill approved by state lawmakers that would legalize gay marriage. He says the courts need to rule on the legality of Proposition 22, the gay marriage ban passed by voters.
September 19, 2007: An emotional Mayor Jerry Sanders abruptly reverses his public opposition to same-sex marriage. Sanders, tears welling and voice breaking, says he realizes that he can not tell his daughter Lisa, who is gay, that her relationship with a partner is not as important as that of a straight couple.
June 5, 2007: A measure to legalize marriage for gay couples easily passes the California Assembly after a respectful debate. As he did in 2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to veto the measure.