California Proposition 8: Timeline of Perry v. Brown (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger)

Nov. 4, 2008

California voters approved Proposition 8 to prohibit same-sex marriage. The so-called “California Marriage Protection Act” amends the state constitution to recognize only marriage between a man and a woman, thereby denying gay and lesbian couples the right to legally marry. 

The ballot initiative passed with 52.3% of the vote (7 million votes in favor and 6.4 million votes against).

Proposition 8 was supported by:

Visit the California Secretary of State’s website for the full list of committees formed to support or oppose the measure in 2008.


May 22, 2009

A lawsuit against Proposition 8 was filed in federal court by two same-sex couples. Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley, who raised four children together and Jeffrey Zarrillo and Paul Katami of Burbank argued their constitutional rights were violated when they were denied marriage licenses because of Proposition 8.

The suit was defended by proponents of Proposition 8 after then-Attorney General Jerry Brown declined to defend the voter-approved measure.


Jan. 11 – Jan. 27, 2010

A 12-day trial was held for Perry v. Schwarzenegger before U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker.

The trial featured testimonies from Perry, Stier, Zarrillo, Katami, and others who described the discrimination they’ve suffered as a result of their sexual orientation. The plaintiffs’ witnesses also included experts, psychologists, historians, and an economist who testified about the adverse social and economic impacts resulting from discriminatory policies against gay and lesbians. The plaintiffs also called Hak-Shing William Tam, an official proponent of Proposition 8, who testified about his negative campaign against same-sex marriage.

None of the Prop 8 proponents’ designated witnesses testified during the trial, citing personal safety concerns. The two witnesses who testified in favor of Prop 8 were David Blakenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values, and Kenneth P. Miller, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

Testimony transcripts:


Aug. 4, 2010

Judge Walker struck down Proposition 8, ruling that the law is unconstitutional because it violates both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

“Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights gay men and lesbian women,” Walker wrote in his decision. “The evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

Walker’s ruling prohibited Prop 8 from being enforced.

Click here to download Judge Walker’s decision.


Feb. 28, 2011

Judge Walker retired after 22 years of service in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Following his retirement, Walker dismissed accusations of bias in his ruling on same-sex marriage because he was gay.

“If you thought a judge’s sexuality, ethnicity, national origin (or) gender would prevent the judge from handling a case, that’s a very slippery slope,” Walker told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I don’t think it’s relevant.”


June 14, 2011

U.S. District Court Judge James Ware upheld Walker’s decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

In their appeal, Proposition 8 proponents argued that Walker’s sexual orientation disqualified him from making an impartial decision on same-sex marriage because he was presumed to have a vested interest in the outcome. The proponents contended that Walker should have recused himself because Walker did not disclose his same-sex relationship while presiding over the case.

Ware rejected those arguments, and he wrote, “The sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of the public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification.”

Click here to download Judge Ware’s decision.

Prop 8 proponents appealed Ware’s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Sept. 6, 2011

At the request of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court held a hearing to determine whether the Proposition 8 proponents have legal standing to defend a lawsuit filed against the state of California after the governor and state attorney general declined to defend the suit.


Nov. 17, 2011

The California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 8 proponents have legal standing to defend Perry v. Brown.

“Allowing official proponents to assert the state’s interest in the validity of the initiative measure in such litigation…assures voters who supported the measure and enacted into law that any residual hostility or indifference of current public officials to the substance of the initiative measure will not prevent a full and robust defense of the measure to be mounted in court on the people’s behalf,” wrote Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye in the unanimous decision.

Click here to download the California Supreme Court’s ruling.


Dec. 8, 2011

A Ninth Circuit three-judge panel heard the case. Click here to watch the oral arguments and rebuttals.


Feb. 7, 2012

The Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court’s ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Click here to download the court’s decision.


June 5, 2012

The Ninth Circuit refused to hold a rehearing en banc to reconsider its Proposition 8 ruling.

March 26, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Proposition 8 in Hollingsworth v. Perry

June 26, 2013
U.S. Supreme Court rules against proponents of Proposition 8 for lack of standing.


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3 Comments on “California Proposition 8: Timeline of Perry v. Brown (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger)

  1. Pingback: California Proposition 8: Ninth Circuit refuses to rehear suit on same-sex marriage | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: California Proposition 8: Reactions from supporters of same-sex marriage | What The Folly?!

  3. Pingback: California Proposition 8: Ninth Circuit rules ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional | What The Folly?!

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