California court voids 4,000 gay marriages

Couples wed in San Francisco in spring 2004
California’s Supreme Court has voided the marriages of nearly 4,000 gay couples who wed in San Francisco last spring, ruling that Mayor Gavin Newsom did not have the authority to flout state marriage laws.

The court said August 12 that local officials are not permitted to ignore laws they disagree with. It sidestepped the larger question of whether it is unconstitutional to deny civil marriage to gay couples. That decision would have to come in a separate case, the court said.

“In actuality, the legal issue before us implicates the interest of all individuals in ensuring that public officials execute their official duties in a manner that respects the limits of the authorities granted to them as officeholders,” Chief Justice Ronald George wrote for the court.


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