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Tenth Winter of Love: California Celebrates a Decade of Love and Commitment

Post submitted by Chloe Stokes, HRC Digital Media Intern

The achievements of the LGBT movement can only fully be appreciated when looking at the entirety of the progress made and the rise in public opinion for marriage equality. In honoring these accomplishments, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the "Winter of Love," when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom married over 4,000 gay and lesbian couples in violation of state law. The Mayor has created a Pinterest board for the occasion, where couples and organizations can share wedding photos and other moments of love from the last 10 years. Anyone is welcome to share their own messages of equality as we celebrate the progress of the last decade.

As of January 2014, a total of 18 states and Washington, DC have legalized same-sex marriage, while half of these states were added in 2013 alone. The accomplishments of the LGBT movement are more staggering when considering the progress made in the last decade, as we look back at 2004’s Winter of Love and the continued celebration of California’s same-sex couples ten years later.

Massachusetts became the first state to recognize same-sex marriages in 2004, and 262 couples were married on the first day that licenses were handed out. The joyous celebrations were met with backlash across the nation, as 13 states banned same-sex marriages in their constitutions that year.

In 2008, California became the second state to introduce marriage equality. With the first marriages performed in June of that year, the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples was stopped in November, a result of the passage of Proposition 8, an amendment to the constitution of California that restored an opposite-sex definition of marriage.

Marriage equality didn’t return to California until the summer of 2013, with the Supreme Court ruling in the landmark case of Hollingsworth v. Perry. The court determined that Proposition 8 had been unconstitutional, restoring marriage equality in the state. The end of Prop 8 coincided with the decision in another landmark case, United States v. Windsor, when the Supreme Court concluded that the federal interpretation of “marriage” as only applying to heterosexual couples was unconstitutional.  This definition had been introduced with the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, otherwise known as DOMA, in 1996. DOMA effectively barred married same-sex couples from recognition as “spouses” under federal laws, which further prohibited them from receiving marriage benefits.

Nearly 38% of Americans now live in marriage equality states, partly because of California’s size, serving as a statistic that reflects the state’s growing contribution to the LGBT movement. California has paved the way for states that are fighting for marriage equality, and we commemorate the 10 years of love and commitment that California’s same-sex couples continue to celebrate during this 10th Winter of Love.

 

The tenth anniversary of the "Winter of Love" is only four weeks away, celebrate the occasion by sharing your wedding photos from the past 10 years using the #WinterOfLove hashtag.

Share your memories with HRC on Pinterest.

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