California Justices Hears San Francisco Gay Marriage Case

( [email protected] ) May 25, 2004 06:00 PM EDT

The California Supreme Court heard arguments today on whether San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom abused his authority by issuing marriage licenses to some 4,000 same-sex couples earlier this year despite a California State law that defines marriage to be between one man and one woman. Seven justices questioned opponents on the authority of the elected officials to interpret state law.

Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian-law firm, called the issuing of state marriage licenses by San Francisco County Clerk Nancy Alfaro "essentially an act of disobedience.” Touching on the future status of same-sex marriage licenses, Deputy Attorney Timothy Muscat said the marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples were nullified from the beginning because they were issued outside of the law. Therese Stewart, San Francisco's chief deputy city attorney, cited cases dating to 1896 where local officials have properly refused to enforce a state law after determining it was unconstitutional. A final ruling for the case will be announced in 90 days.