Thursday, August 12, 2004

Cal. Supreme Court - Gay Marriages Null & Void 

The California Supreme Court has issued its decision in the case as to whether Mayor Gavin Newsom exceeded his authority in disregarding the state statute defining marriage as being only for opposite sex couples because of his belief that the statute was unconstitutional. Without passing on the question of the constitutionality of the statute, the court has declared that the mayor indeed overstepped his authority. They further declared that the more than 4,000 marriage licenses issued and marriage ceremonies performed are null and void. The court did specify that should the constitutional question be decided in favor of gay marriages in the future, the couples will then be able to apply for valid licenses at that time. The court summed up its decision in the following orders (on page 80 of the opinion):

  1. Identify all the couples who received licenses.
  2. Notify the couples that same sex marriages are null and void, and that the records will be corrected to reflect this.
  3. Provide the couples the chance to prove that they are actually opposite sex couples and that therefore their particular records should not be amended.
  4. Offer to refund marriage related fees, upon request, to the couples.
  5. Make corrections to all affected records.
The California Supreme Court has a handy reference page for the gay marriage related cases that have been brought to them. They include an archive audio of the oral arguments from the May 25 hearing, as well as the various documents in the cases.

The opinion is authored by Chief Justice George, with Justices Baxter, Chin, Brown and Moreno concurring.

A separate concurring opinion was written by Justice Moreno, who focuses on the court's actions in the face of an unresolved question of constitutionality.

A concurring and dissenting opinion written by Justice Kennard agrees that the licenses are invalid, but states that the validity of the solemnized marriages themselves should be determined at the time the question of constitutionality is addressed.

A concurring and dissenting opinion by Justice Werdegar agrees that officials should be precluded from continuing violation of the statute until the question of constitutionality is addressed, but disagrees with the invalidation of the existing marriages prior to the constitutionality question being addressed.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:55 PM