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 litigated the case 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 was 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.
In addition to NCLR, the plaintiffs were represented by Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP; Lambda Legal; the ACLU; and the Law Office of David C. Codell.