California high court voids same-sex marriages

By WND Staff

By a vote of 5-2, the California Supreme Court today voided several thousand same-sex marriages, ruling that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority by issuing licenses to homosexual couples earlier this year.

Six months ago, Newsom began issuing the licenses in violation of the law. The city continued the practice from Feb. 12 until March 11 when the high court issued an injunction – but not until over 4,000 same-sex couples had been wed.

In today’s ruling, the court stated: “We hold only that in the absence of a judicial determination that such statutory provisions are unconstitutional, local executive officials lacked authority to issue marriage licenses to, solemnize marriages of, or register certificates of marriage for same-sex couples, and marriages conducted between same-sex couples in violation of the applicable statutes are void and of no legal effect.”

Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence argued the case Lewis v. Alfaro before the California Supreme Court on May 25.

“The justices have restored the rule of law in California,” Lorence said in a statement. “The decision shows that same-sex ‘marriage’ is not inevitable. Same-sex ‘marriage’ loses whenever a state puts it before voters.”

Voter-passed Proposition 22 defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

“The justices rightly saw the chaos that could ensue if a local official was allowed to defy the law,” Lorence added. “It’s common sense that illegally issued documents cannot be valid. The licenses were null and void from day one.”

County Clerk Nancy Alfaro was the official Newsom directed to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The other case the ruling covers was the one brought by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Lockyer v. San Francisco.

Attorney Richard D. Ackerman of the California-based Pro-Family Law Center, who also was involved in the litigation, warned, “This issue will not die with today’s ruling. The people of the state of California must remain vigilant in preserving the traditional institution of marriage. Our state legislature is filled with anarchistic members who will seek to do an end-run on the court’s ruling. These legislators are voted in by a constituency that does not support gay marriage.”

Brian Fahling is the senior trial attorney for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy.

Fahling says Newsom “behaved like a little tyrant (in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples), and now he has officially been put back in his pen.”

CLP Chief Counsel Steve Crampton believes Newsom should be criminally prosecuted, saying, “The statute of limitations on his criminal actions has not yet run.”

The justices’ decision appears to be in line with California voters. A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters taken at the time Newsom was issuing the licenses found that just 32 percent believed the same-sex couples who received those marriage licenses were “legally married.” Sixty-one percent disagreed, while 7 percent were not sure.

The ruling does not address whether same-sex couples must be allowed to marry under the state Constitution. That issue is under consideration in a separate lawsuit brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the ACLU.

“It is an extreme step to take away people’s marriages and rob them of critical protections without even allowing them to have their day in court.” said Jon Davidson, Lambda Legal senior counsel, according to 365gay.com. “Most Californians can’t even imagine a court taking away their marriages without hearing from them at all. We’re more committed than ever to resolving this issue so these marriages can be restored and couples statewide can have the protections and security marriage provides.”

Said same-sex marriage supporter Cheryl Jacques, president of the Human Rights Campaign: “This is not the end of the fight to make same-sex couples safer and more secure. California families will still have their day in court to challenge their exclusion from marriage

“While we are disappointed that the Supreme Court ruled the city lacked authority to issue the licenses, this case does not speak to the issue of whether California’s discriminatory marriage ban for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. As those cases move forward, we are hopeful that every California family will be able to access the over 1,000 rights and responsibilities that are only conferred by marriage.”

During arguments before the Supreme Court in May, it was clear to observers the panel would ultimately rule against Newsom, but it was unclear what the justices would do with the marriage that had taken place during the city’s one-month wedding spree.

“Wouldn’t that be setting a problematic precedent?” asked Justice Joyce Kennard during arguments. “Presumably, other local officials would be free to say … I don’t like that particular law, be it a ban on guns” or another issue.


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