On May 17, 2004, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts became the first US state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Since that time, same-sex marriage has become perhaps the most contentious social policy issue of the 21st century. Nowhere has the debate been waged more heatedly and on such a scale than in California, where a 2008 ballot initiative called Proposition 8 resulted in an amendment to the state constitution that declared “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
The campaigns for and against Proposition 8 raised $40 million and $43 million, respectively – from over 64,000 people in all 50 states and more than 20 foreign countries – surpassing every campaign in the country in spending except the presidential contest. Since 2008, there have been federal legal challenges that resulted in Proposition 8 being overturned on the grounds that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution, but, due to the long appeals process, same-sex marriages have yet to be performed in the state.