Further, entry into a formal, officially recognized family relationship provides an individual with the opportunity to become a part of one’s partner’s family, providing a wider and often critical network of economic and emotional security…. The opportunity of a couple to establish an officially recognized family of their own not only grants access to an extended family but also permits the couple to join the broader family social structure that is a significant feature of community life. Moreover, the opportunity to publicly and officially express one’s love for and long-term commitment to another person by establishing a family together with that person also is an important element of self-expression that can give special meaning to one’s life. Finally, of course, the ability to have children and raise them with a loved one who can share the joys and challenges of that endeavor is without doubt a most valuable component of oneís liberty and personal autonomy….
In light of the fundamental nature of the substantive rights embodied in the right to marry—and their central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all individuals and couples, without regard to their sexual orientation.