Anniversary of San Francisco gay marriages: Where are we now?

Four years ago, same-sex couples started flocking to City Hall for marriage ceremonies.

Both sides of the same-sex marriage debate claim Feb. 12, 2004, as a watershed day in efforts to either advance gay marriage or maintain the union as only between a man and a woman.

It was then that newly elected Mayor Gavin Newsom allowed the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Before the state Supreme Court ended the practice a month later, roughly 4,000 same-sex couples took the plunge only to have their marriages nullified by the court later that year.

In early February, it was announced that the state Supreme Court would hear oral arguments on six cases, including a lawsuit filed by The City after it authorized same-sex marriages in 2004.

One of those to marry in 2004 was Paul Boneberg, the executive director of the GLBT Historical Society in The City, who called the move an “extremely positive action.”

In the wake of Newsom’s decision and a Massachusetts Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage, states began jumping at the chance to define marriage as that between a man and a woman, according to Glen Lavy, the senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization working to preserve that status.

According to polls from the Pew Research Center, opposition to same-sex marriage did spike in February 2004 with 63 percent polled opposing gay marriage and 30 percent in favor. But according to the same group, those numbers have slowly grown together, until a poll in August revealed

55 percent of Americans oppose gay marriage and 36 percent in favor of it. Newsom said taking action has intended and unintended results but action was the only way to affect change.

dsmith@examiner.com

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