Recognized unions: Civil Unions.
On May 26, 2009, California high court upheld the gay marriage ban but allowed existing same-sex marriages to stand.
On Nov. 4, 2008, voters in California approved Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to heterosexual couples. California thus becomes the first state to ban gay marriage after it was legalized.
It was unclear what would happen to the estimated 18,000 gay and lesbian couples, many from other states, who married after same-sex marriage was legalized in California in June. California will still allow same-sex civil unions, which offer many of the legal trappings of marriage.
On June 4, 2008, California's highest court refused to delay finalizing its ruling to legalize same-sex marriage. Conservative religious and legal groups had asked the court to stop its order from becoming effective until voters have the chance to weigh in on the issue.
The court's denial cleared the way for gays and lesbians in the nation's most populous state to get married starting June 17, when counties started issuing new gender-neutral marriage licenses.
On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned a voter-mandated same-sex marriage ban in a ruling that makes the nation's largest state the second one to allow gay and lesbian weddings. The justices' 4-3 decision says domestic partnerships are not a good enough substitute for marriage.