While the Supreme Court is hinting that the time has finally come this year for nationwide, federally sanctioned same-sex marriage, the whole idea is yesterday's news for the Bay Area. Literally. Yesterday, February 12, marked the 11th anniversary of the first legal gay marriages performed in the U.S., which happened here at City Hall under the watch of then mayor Gavin Newsom.
Sure, elsewhere in the country gay couples had enjoyed civil ceremonies, and civil unions were already legal here in California, in Vermont, and a number of other states. But in 2004, when Newsom decided go for liberal PR gold and open the floodgates for same-sex couples to be wed at City Hall, he arguably got a ball rolling that has led to the legalization of gay marriage in 37 states. All in 11 years.
Of course Newsom's stunt ended up causing some strife for a lot of other politicians, outrage from the right which then retaliated in 2008 with Prop 8, and not to mention stress for the first couples who got marriage licenses here whose legal status remained an open question until the Supreme Court's decision to let Prop 8 be overturned on a technicality.
But it also put San Francisco front and center in national news broadcasts, showing elated gay and lesbian couples lining up around the block on Valentine's Day 2004 to tie the knot in the only city where that was possible at the time.
In a statement, via the Bay Area Reporter, Mayor Ed Lee said, "San Francisco today remains as deeply committed to the fight for marriage equality today as we were 11 years ago, [when Mayor Newsom] led the charge on one of the most important civil rights issues of our generation to ensure equal protections and rights for all."