The same-sex marriage roller coaster battle in California

(CBS News) SAN FRANCISCO -- Sunnie and Tori Kaufmann-Paulman share a name, a home and a daughter, Anika.

And if the Supreme Court overturns California's Proposition 8, they will get married immediately.

"I just hope that we can officially have that right and celebrate it with our daughter," Sunnie said.

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For same-sex couples in California, the roller coaster legal battle over marriage began on Valentines weekend 2004. San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsome declared City Hall open for same-sex marriages. In five weeks, 4,000 couples exchanged vows.

"It was really, really powerful," Tori said. "It felt like a once in a lifetime, you know, opportunity. People knew that it probably would be taken away. And yet they did it anyway."

A state court ordered the weddings stopped and they were declared invalid. But then the city of San Francisco joined gay rights groups in a legal challenge of that.

In May 2008, California Supreme Court agreed, making same-sex marriages legal throughout the state.

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, Calif. makes the sign of the cross during the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 in Baltimore.
Salvatore Cordileone
AP Photo/Steve Ruark

But opponents of same-sex marriage had already started gathering signatures to put Proposition 8 on the November ballot. Salvatore Cordileone, now Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, helped raise more than a million dollars for the campaign, driven by this belief.

Only a man and a woman can unite their bodies in a way that is the act that produces new life," Cordileone said.

Proposition 8 passed winning 52 percent of the vote and ending five months of legal same-sex marriage. Eighteen thousand couples had wed, but thousands more like Tori and Sunnie are hoping the appeal to the Supreme Court will allow them to marry too.

Those 18,000 legal weddings, many of which happened at San Francisco City Hall, will remain legal no matter what the Supreme Court decides.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.