San Francisco City Hall has been used for performing marriages for many years, but in February 2004, something historical happened. Mayor Gavin Newsom directed the San Francisco City-County clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of the current state law. In August 2004, the Supreme Court of California annulled the marriages that Newsom had authorized since they conflicted with the state law.

 

On May 15, 2008, Mayor Gavin Newsom declared at a gay marriage press conference:

 

“This door’s wide open now. It’s gonna happen - whether you like it or not.”

 

On June 16, the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as a result of the Supreme Court of California which found that barring same-sex couples from marriage violated the state’s constitution. Proposition 8 was put on the ballot to overturn that ruling in November the same year.

 

San Francisco has been my home for many years. This historic event was taking place right in my own backyard. At the time, I was a photography student at the San Francisco Art Institute and started to go to city hall several times a week to photograph the couples and their families. I estimated it would be a year long project. It was not even on my radar that Proposition 8 might pass and put a stop to same-sex marriages. However, it passed and the marriages stopped.

 

The photos in this book were taken between June and November in 2008. Being a witness to this equal rights chapter in our history was heart warming and a privilege. The pictures are a testament to the loving couples that came to have their marriages witnessed and legalized.

 

Little did any of us know that the road to equality in marriage would be a bit longer. Finally, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled the same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, meaning all fifty states must allow it and that all the existing bans are invalid.

 

Seven years after these pictures were taken, these families were given their legal and equal rights to marry in this country.

 

Looking at these families and their children in my pictures, I can’t help but think how old these children would be today. The questions they must have had about whether their moms or dads were married or not. The schoolyard taunting they had to endure must have been relentless. Societal change is not easy.

 

This book is dedicated to all the children that can now proudly state that their parents are being treated equally.