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50 years in 50 weeks: 2000, Anti-gay Prop 22 wins

by BAR staff

Photo: B.A.R. Archive
Photo: B.A.R. Archive  

In the March 7, 2000 California primary, the anti-gay Proposition 22, known as the Knight initiative, cruised to victory with about 61% of the vote. The initiative limited marriage in the state to between one man and one woman. The No on 22 campaign conceded hours after the polls closed, but LGBTQ advocates said the fight for marriage equality was just beginning. They were right. Four years later, then-mayor Gavin Newsom ordered San Francisco officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, transforming the issue from being about litigation and laws to the personal plight of LGBTQ people wanting to marry the person they love. Ultimately, the California Supreme Court ruled in May 2008 that Prop 22 violated the state constitution and was therefore invalid. Later that year, Prop 8 was approved by voters, banning same-sex marriage, after a brief period during which same-sex couples could legally wed. Prop 8 was ultimately found to be unconstitutional by a federal judge and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, allowing same-sex marriages to resume in the Golden State in 2013. Prop 22 was officially repealed in 2015, after then-governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1306, authored by gay former state senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). To view the issue, click here.

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