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The San Francisco 2004 same-sex weddings took place between February 12 and March 11, 2004. Newly-elected San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom gained international attention and attracted controversy when he issued a directive to the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Newsom claimed the California Constitution's equal protection clause as his authority to do so, and decided to perform the marriages after hearing President Bush's State of the Union address.[1] On February 20, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered state Attorney General Bill Lockyer in writing to "obtain a definitive judicial resolution" of the controversy.[2] Lockyer responded saying that he had not taken a stance on the issue, that the letter did not specifically direct Lockyer to sue San Francisco, and that he did not "personally support policies that give lesser legal rights and responsibilities to committed same-sex couples."[3] The weddings were halted by the California Supreme Court on March 11, by which time about 4,000 same-sex couples had been issued marriage licenses. Lawsuits were brought against San Francisco by Lockyer and by the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based fund representing plaintiffs Barbara Lewis, Charles McIlhenny, and Edward Mei. On August 12, 2004, the California Supreme Court voided all of the licenses.

Professional photographs of many of the couples were compiled in an exhibition, "The Photographer's Eye," which premiered in San Francisco before touring the country.

An award-winning documentary film Pursuit of Equality, chronicles the issue.

Political impact

Republican consultant Ed Rollins and California Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte thought scenes from these marriages would help recruit Republican voters to the polls in the 2004 election. On the other hand, Newsom and San Francisco successfully upstaged the Massachusetts marriages that occurred two months later, which would have reflected even more strongly on the Democratic presidential candidate that year, John Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts.

U.S. Representative from Massachusetts Barney Frank, himself openly gay, criticized San Francisco's actions, saying it was a "symbolic point" that diverted attention from the real struggle for gay rights.

Notable marriages


  • The Vienna Teng song City Hall was inspired by the Same-Sex Weddings of February 2004.

See also


  1. THE BATTLE OVER SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. San Francisco Chronicle (2004-02-15). Retrieved on 2007-09-21.
  2. Template:Cite press release
  3. Harriet Chiang; John Wildermuth; Chronicle Staff Writers. "Governor demands end to gay marriage: Lockyer told to act against S. F.'s same-sex licenses", San Francisco Chronicle, 2004-02-21, p. A-1. Retrieved on 2008-05-21. 

External links

  • [2]- Photographs of many of the couples