Waldlaw Blog

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Which California Same-Sex Marriages Are Valid and Recognized?

Hello Dear Readers!

I have not blogged in forever, having been very much occupied with other things -- and, in all honestly, I guess I also needed a vacation from blogging.  But since the Windsor and Perry decisions, I have been receiving so many questions that it clearly is time to blog again.  I will do my best to answer the most common questions as they come in, and appreciate that you still are tuning in after my extended break from blogging!

SO -- this week's top question is:  which California marriages are now recognized as marriages?  I will do my best to answer this questions briefly, but comprehensively, here:

(1)  THE 2004 SAN FRANCISCO CITY HALL MARRIAGES:  From February 12 - March 11, 2004, San Francisco issued marriage licenses to approximately 4000 same-sex couples.  On August 12, 2004, the California Supreme Court ruled that San Francisco had lacked legal authority to issue these marriage licenses, and declared all 4000 marriages void.  Nothing that has happened since has implicated these 4000 marriages.  Having been declared void by our state Supreme Court, they remain void.

(2)  THE 2008 CALIFORNIA MARRIAGES:  From June 16 - November 5, 2008, same sex couples were able to marry throughout the state of California as a result of our Supreme Court's ruling in In re Marriage Cases.  The passage of California's Proposition 8 on November 4, 2008, stopped the state from issuing any more marriage licenses, but the approximately 18,000 same-sex couples who already had married during the 2008 window remained married for all purposes.  Therefore, all 2008 California marriages should be recognized as valid in any state that recognizes marriages between same-sex couples, and as of now also should be recognized by the federal government.

(3)  OUT OF STATE MARRIAGES:  From November 5, 2008 - June 28, 2013, California was not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  However, during this time the state of California recognized the out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples as providing all the benefits -- and imposing all the responsibilities -- of marriage, even though we could not recognize them as marriages.  These out-of-state marriages WERE NOT treated as domestic partnerships; they were recognized as "marriage equivalents" pursuant to California Family Code section 308(c).  With Proposition 8 now having been declared unconstitutional, I believe that ALL marriages of same-sex couples are now recognized as marriages in the state of California, as long as they were lawfully entered-into wherever they occurred.

Stay tuned for more answers to frequently asked questions.